Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Texas Justice Redux

Here is some more recent "Texas Justice" from the Fifth Circuit. Read that together with this from UK judges remarking on efforts to install an federal style sentencing "grid" system across the pond. Wow, Professor Berman, good work. If you thought judges should curb excesses of the legislature that have proven to be very, very foolish you'd be wrong respecting the Fifth.

And then, updating the topic there is this from Grits, who is devoted to the topic, on something as mundane as a data entry error that caused SCOTUS to have to weigh in. That would be the Rothgery decision (the opinion is at the link) from the current Supreme Court term. Here is analysis from Grits:
What's the significance? In the past, a defendant was not entitled to counsel at their bail hearing unless they couldn't make bond or bail was denied. In that case they had counsel appointed fairly quickly. But in the case where a defendant makes bond but also requests a lawyer, Texas courts previously held the defendant could not get a court appointed lawyer until they were indicted, leaving indigent defendants for weeks in limbo with no legal adviser. Now SCOTUS has said courts must appoint counsel for indigent defendants at their bail hearing.

That's how most other states do it; Texas had just been skimping by not appointing counsel earlier. According to the opinion, "The Court is advised without contradiction that not only the Federal Government, including the District of Columbia, but 43 States take the first step toward appointing counsel before, at, or just after initial appearance. To the extent the remaining 7 States have been denying appointed counsel at that time, they are a distinct minority."
Here is my earlier verbose-but-important post on Rothgery.

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