Head scratching ruling

Marvin the Martian

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The Supremes previously ruled that it was unconstitutional to convict without a unanimous verdict. So prisoners so convicted sued, and the court ruled the previous ruling was not retroactive.

How? If it violates a person's right to be convicted by less than unanimous jury, how can the people in jail via that route not deserve relief.

The one answer is that the court is suggesting this is a new right, but the originalists all voted to not make this retroactive. So are they granting new rights?

What sort of logic is involved here?
 
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Marvin the Martian

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BradStevens

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The Supremes previously ruled that it was unconstitutional to convict without a unanimous verdict. So prisoners so convicted sued, and the court ruled the previous ruling was not retroactive.

How? If it violates a person's right to be convicted by less than unanimous jury, how can the people in jail via that route not deserve relief.

The one answer is that the court is suggesting this is a new right, but the originalists all voted to not make this retroactive. So are they granting new rights?

What sort of logic is involved here?
I haven't read the decision, just the linked article so I can't offer any opinion on the soundness of the opinion. But I can say this: in most cases that are appealed (and nearly always when you reach the SCT), you are dealing with competing interests. One of those interests here was is in the finality of decisions. It's an important interest in the law and one that is very difficult to overcome.
 

TheOriginalHappyGoat

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Margaritaville
The Supremes previously ruled that it was unconstitutional to convict without a unanimous verdict. So prisoners so convicted sued, and the court ruled the previous ruling was not retroactive.

How? If it violates a person's right to be convicted by less than unanimous jury, how can the people in jail via that route not deserve relief.

The one answer is that the court is suggesting this is a new right, but the originalists all voted to not make this retroactive. So are they granting new rights?

What sort of logic is involved here?
It's the twisted logic of procedure. While we often think that the law should seek justice, that's only one goal in our old legal tradition. Another value that's been around for centuries is procedure - specifically, the ability to understand and count on procedure, so that a legal process follows specific rules, and is never arbitrary.

This particular fetish predates the Normans. It goes back to the Athenians and Babylonians, in fact. But we still revere it. So we end up getting lost in technical arguments that revolve around making sure that a particular judicial process followed the rules. Whether it found justice can often become cast aside. And whether or not it upheld rights is basically unimportant. As you astutely note, if this is a Constitutional right, it should apply to all since the Constitution was promulgated, and not only those convicted after this particular unfortunate defendant. But that's not how it works, because that would disrupt the predictability of procedure.
 

BradStevens

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It's the twisted logic of procedure. While we often think that the law should seek justice, that's only one goal in our old legal tradition. Another value that's been around for centuries is procedure - specifically, the ability to understand and count on procedure, so that a legal process follows specific rules, and is never arbitrary.

This particular fetish predates the Normans. It goes back to the Athenians and Babylonians, in fact. But we still revere it. So we end up getting lost in technical arguments that revolve around making sure that a particular judicial process followed the rules. Whether it found justice can often become cast aside. And whether or not it upheld rights is basically unimportant. As you astutely note, if this is a Constitutional right, it should apply to all since the Constitution was promulgated, and not only those convicted after this particular unfortunate defendant. But that's not how it works, because that would disrupt the predictability of procedure.
Predictability and finality are important.
 

BradStevens

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So we've decided.
My point wasn't to be glib, it was just to point out that you have competing, important interests and values in that case (and most SCT cases) and reasonable minds can disagree about the result without it being a part of some partisan battle or the product of "twisted" logic.
 

TheOriginalHappyGoat

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My point wasn't to be glib, it was just to point out that you have competing, important interests and values in that case (and most SCT cases) and reasonable minds can disagree about the result without it being a part of some partisan battle or the product of "twisted" logic.
Understood, but it's hard to take the importance of finality and predictability seriously in a case that actually hinged on a Constitutional right, as Marvin pointed out originally.
 

Marvin the Martian

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I haven't read the decision, just the linked article so I can't offer any opinion on the soundness of the opinion. But I can say this: in most cases that are appealed (and nearly always when you reach the SCT), you are dealing with competing interests. One of those interests here was is in the finality of decisions. It's an important interest in the law and one that is very difficult to overcome.

It strikes me as Scalia's point that actual guilt is irrelevant once the case is decided. Maybe it is a left-right thing but to me actual guilt is more important and it isn't close. Yes, we don't want 100 years of appeals, but if legit new evidence is found than we have no choice. Keeping an obviously innocent person locked up is a crime against humanity.
 
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NPT

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The Supremes previously ruled that it was unconstitutional to convict without a unanimous verdict. So prisoners so convicted sued, and the court ruled the previous ruling was not retroactive.

How? If it violates a person's right to be convicted by less than unanimous jury, how can the people in jail via that route not deserve relief.

The one answer is that the court is suggesting this is a new right, but the originalists all voted to not make this retroactive. So are they granting new rights?

What sort of logic is involved here?
Wouldn't this be similar when the court ruled that when someone is arrested they must be read their rights? That didn't result in everyone previously arrested getting a new trial or overturning the verdict. So, like you said, is this granting a new right?
 

CO. Hoosier

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It's the twisted logic of procedure. While we often think that the law should seek justice, that's only one goal in our old legal tradition. Another value that's been around for centuries is procedure - specifically, the ability to understand and count on procedure, so that a legal process follows specific rules, and is never arbitrary.

This particular fetish predates the Normans. It goes back to the Athenians and Babylonians, in fact. But we still revere it. So we end up getting lost in technical arguments that revolve around making sure that a particular judicial process followed the rules. Whether it found justice can often become cast aside. And whether or not it upheld rights is basically unimportant. As you astutely note, if this is a Constitutional right, it should apply to all since the Constitution was promulgated, and not only those convicted after this particular unfortunate defendant. But that's not how it works, because that would disrupt the predictability of procedure.
Civil and criminal procedure and due process of law are inextricably intertwined. Procedure is not twisted, is not a fetish, and is not simply a technicality.