Sunday, November 30, 2008
At first glance this case to me seemed as though it had been decided with little regard for the protections of those accused. As I read on I could not help but notice all the nice little exceptions of “reasonableness” that are added to the six hour time period before which an accused must be presented to a magistrate and the voluntariness of the confession. I can see how under certain circumstances such as traveling far distances n order to reach a magistrate, as could be the case in rural Alaska, but the term “reasonable” to me seems too broad when it comes to the protection of personal liberty. I know that often times the public sees these protections (the six hour time limit) as loopholes that keep criminals on the street and allow them to avoid punishment, but when there is a well established rule and the extension in the allotted time before presenting the accused to a magistrate is used in order to elicit a confession, I can not help but be put off by the reasonable bending of these safeguards of liberty in order to obtain the confession. These protections not only help protect the innocent, but also help to professionalize and maintain the integrity of the Justice system by raising the standards of care and treatment of the accused in order combat the mistreatment or corruption of the system.
The issue in this case that grabbed my attention was the debate over whether the Ninth Circuit should apply its own interpretation to the issue of fill materials or whether there should be a greater emphasis placed on the language and interpretation of the agency from the construction of the statute. The brief that I read was obviously that of the side of Coeur Alaska, which I thought I would disagree with just on the basis of pollutants, but then as I read the brief further and really looked at the question presented I started to really see the dilemma as to whether the decision should be that of one based on principles and the desire to protect and preserve the environment, as it was when heard by the Ninth Circuit, or whether the decision should be strictly held to the application and enforcement of statutes that may not be the greatest good or most desirable goal. The Ninth Circuit obviously did not just come out and say well we think this is wrong so we will rule this way, but I do believe that the Ninth Circuit had a lot more discretion and emphasis on principle while using certain facts from the case to steer their principle laden agenda. I really am not to sure how the Supreme Court will rule on this case, but I do believe they will be leaning more towards the application and defining of the statute through the interpretations and statements of the actually agencies.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The case from Monday involving the case where the defendant entered two pleas, guilty and guilty but mentally insane, was pretty confusing when it came to the chronology of the case. I was really intrigued not so much by the double plea allowed by California but more by the case remanded by the Supreme Court to the Ninth Circuit. I thought that the case the Supreme Court wanted the Ninth Circuit to review was very difficult to make connections between. I did not find the case to be very on point with the issues of the case at hand. I thought this case was going to be a bit more exciting than it was because I thought the court would be arguing over the guilty but mentally insane plea, but rather it was dealing largely with jurisdictions and whether the federal court could find new facts after the state court had already held such a hearing and established facts of law. I am not very up on my legal knowledge but I had thought that facts were to be determined by juries so I was confused at how the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals was able to find new facts of law. This case seems to have turned into more of a power struggle than that of what I had hoped for. That said it does address the constitutional right to counsel, even if briefly, and that was an interesting topic to consider. So the right to an impartial jury and trial as well as counsel are guaranteed rights, but I kind of ventured off of this case onto a tangent about cases in which a judge and attorney are bribed. I read about a case in which the defendant, who was the one providing the bribe, was awarded a new trial after it became known that the judge had been fixing cases. I see the conflict with the impartial trial, but I also could not help the feeling that this ruling was offending another principle. That said, I do believe that the ruling granting the defendant another trial was the right decision and holds to a stronger set of principles grounded in fairness than the opposite argument that the defendant should be punished for trying to side step justice.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
The distinction of rights and to who the overriding or more pertinent right falls was very intriguing to me in Coase’s article titled “The Problem of Social Cost”. As Coase begins, he talks about how a sort of agreement can be made between parties in order to obtain an equitable or favorable agreement for both parties, and as his first example applied to marketing and financial gains I was not sure how this equal responsibility to acquire this happy profitable medium would work in legal situations. I thought the case, Bryant v. Lefever held a very interesting decision. The judge reasoned that because the fire was started by the plaintiff and there for the actual cause of the smoke was due to the plaintiff’s actions that he be held responsible for the problem, even when the Defendant had built a structure that trapped the smoke prior to the existence of the fireplace. The decision placed great emphasis on the right to have that free flowing air or whether the defendant was within his right to erect new structures on his land. The problem of the smoke is actually a problem only due to the actions of both parties and because of this it is necessary to review the legal rights of the parties. The distinction made between an economist view on the fair resolution and that made by a judge is an interesting observation because the reasoning behind both come at the issue from quite different angles.