“To hear that a judge who put procedure over innocence could be moving to a higher court is very upsetting to me.”

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

That’s a quote from Jeffrey Deskovic, who served 16 years for a rape and murder he didn’t commit. He was finally exonerated by DNA testing.

When Deskovic appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, Judge Sonia Sotomayor co-wrote a two-page opinion that refused to even consider the evidence of Deskovic’s innocence because his lawyer was four days late filing the petition. So Deskovic spent an extra six years in prison awaiting a DNA test.

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35 Responses to ““To hear that a judge who put procedure over innocence could be moving to a higher court is very upsetting to me.””

  1. #1 |  SJE | 

    As I’ve said before, there is a lot that one could criticize her for, notably her excessive deference to authority. However, the GOP still wants to paint her as a liberal activist, which she certainly is not.

  2. #2 |  CHRISC | 

    She will fit right in with Scalia’s new professionalism, because the whole point of a criminal justice system is justice, right?

  3. #3 |  Michael Chaney | 

    To hear that a judge who put procedure over innocence could be moving to a higher court is very upsetting to me.

    Pray to God the poor man never finds this website…

  4. #4 |  ktc2 | 

    Biden to Law Enforcement Groups, “Sotomayor has your back”.


    So much for even the pretense of objectivity.

  5. #5 |  Mattocracy | 

    And to think that cops are given a benefit of a doubt when they fuck up their procedures. So much anger! Argh!

  6. #6 |  Salvo | 

    Hmmm. Congratulations Radley. You’ve taken this unabashed liberal and convinced him to oppose the nomination.

    I found that sentiment abhorrent when Scalia does it, and I find it abhorrent here. She shouldn’t be on the court.

  7. #7 |  Nick T | 

    People are only convicted or kept in jail based on “technicalities.” It’s simply never the other way around.

    While I often am on here defending judges for making technically accurate legal rulings, this is just not acceptable. 4 days late is total crap when you’re talking about someone’s life.

    So wait a second, Obama sold something as X, Y and Z but really it’s A, B, and C?? I am shocked. What a liar.

  8. #8 |  Steve Verdon | 

    I say we just skip the confirmation process and just put her on the bench, she’s obviously deserving of the title ‘Justice’.


  9. #9 |  Zargon | 

    To hear that a human being who put procedure over innocence exists is very upsetting to me.

    Or at least it would be, if I weren’t so thoroughly desensitized to this sort of evil.

  10. #10 |  Dave Krueger | 

    An objective judge is almost an oxymoron. They’re part of the government team.

    Condensing the view of the public:

    Cops, prosecutors, judges = good guys.

    Defendants = bad guys.

    Any questions?

  11. #11 |  Mike T | 

    Even “primitive and barbaric” legal codes like the Old Testament always allowed exonerating evidence to be submitted at any time.

  12. #12 |  Chance | 

    “Hmmm. Congratulations Radley. You’ve taken this unabashed liberal and convinced him to oppose the nomination.”


  13. #13 |  Dave Krueger | 

    So much for thinking a Democratic president would at least get us better Supreme Court picks.

    What’s the difference between Democratic and Republican presidents again? I keep forgetting.

  14. #14 |  randomdink | 

    My attorney is fond of saying ‘the law is an ass.’ It has little to do with justice, and everything to do with procedure. The best lawyers argue the technicalities of the law, not the situation itself. In fact, the law doesnt care about the reality of any situation, it only cares about rules.

    How does Soto rank on this compared with other judges? A part of me thinks that this is really, super common. Cases are ruled on technicalities all the time. “Did you get that thing I sent you?” “No.” “CASE DISMISSED”

  15. #15 |  randomdink | 

    #13 Dave

    Democrats tax and borrow and spend, republicans borrow and spend and tax.

  16. #16 |  JP | 

    #10 You forgot to add the most evil of bad guys – defense attorneys. Sigh.

  17. #17 |  Kristen | 

    Boy howdy she’s empathetic! Her empathy is so strong it blew my skirt up! Her empathy outshines all the quasars in the universe!

  18. #18 |  Michael Chaney | 

    What’s the difference between Democratic and Republican presidents again? I keep forgetting.

    The Republicans are honest about where they stand…

  19. #19 |  Kristen | 

    @ #18 Errrr…..sarcasm? I hope?

  20. #20 |  KT | 

    The best review I’ve seen of U.S. jurisprudence:
    “America’s Injustice System Is Criminal”
    by Paul Craig Roberts

  21. #21 |  J sub D | 

    I guess Ms. Sotomayor didn’t have Jeffrey Deskovic’s back.

  22. #22 |  Lorraine Sumrall | 

    Okay, procedure over innocence.That’s all I ever need to know about Sotomayor. It’s enough for me.

  23. #23 |  seeker6079 | 

    “Investigators focused on him in part because he seemed unusually distraught over the killing.”

    That’s all you need to know about cops, right there. If had been calm, they would have focused on him because what sort of freak is calm when his classmate is brutally killed? And if you think that I’m joking then check this out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Baltovich. The cops admitted afterwards that they were sure it was him because he was so cool under all the pressure.

  24. #24 |  Michael Chaney | 

    #18 is not sarcasm at all. Let me put it another way: what has Obama changed since taking office? What did he promise to change? He’s got congress behind him.

    You may not have liked Bush, but you knew where he stood.

  25. #25 |  just some guy with an opnion | 

    “The Republicans are honest about where they stand…”

    Well that one made me spit milk all over the monitor.

  26. #26 |  freedomfan | 

    Michael Chaney, I agree to the extent that Republicans aren’t generally claiming to be champions of 4th and 5th amendment rights, so it’s less of a shock when they nominate authoritarian judges.

    However, Bush (and others, but he’s a good example) did claim to be for free markets and he wasn’t (TARP, auto bailouts, Medicare prescription drugs, etc.). He claimed to be for a “humble” foreign policy and he wasn’t (though I’ll admit it’s a little tough to know exactly what that was supposed to mean). He claimed to be for free trade and he wasn’t (steel tariffs, etc.). He claimed to be for federalism, and he wasn’t (No Child Left Behind, expanding AmeriCorps, etc.). Heck, he even said that he thought McCain-Feingold was outright unconstitutional, but he still signed it. So, one has to ignore a lot of stuff to conclude that Republicans are honest about where they stand.

    Let me be clear: Obama and the Democrats are not generally honest about where they stand, either. That’s been true since day one, it’s true now with Sotomayor, it’ll be true tomorrow with some other issue, and I expect it to be true the day Obama leaves office. In fact, I think a compelling case can be made that he’s worse because he is keeping all of the government power Bush had and adding to it. In all likelihood, the President after Obama – whether he’s a Democrat or a Republican – will be worse yet.

    But, the fact that politicians of either stripe are not only 1) pretty bad on many of the things they say they stand for but 2) outright awful on what they actually do is sort of the point. Thinking these guys can be judged according to their own spin or the stereotypes that may apply to some of their supporters is just foolhardy. Many real Democrat voters are concerned about civil liberties, but elected Democrats, regardless of what they say, almost always support authoritarian programs, just like the Republicans they decry. And, many real Republican voters are concerned about free markets and limited government, but elected Republicans support government intervention and nanny statism, just like their counterparts on the “other” side of the aisle.

    And, both parties will continue to behave like that until they see it is costing them votes. If they think they can say X and do Y, but still get the votes of those who supported X, they they will never do X. The people who support X need to wise the hell up and stop voting based on the politicians’ marketing and start voting on the reality of what they do.

  27. #27 |  Gimme a break | 

    If it has to do with profit, politics or law it’s corrupted. Dems vs Rep, who cares, they are stupid little shits playing with fire and one day HOPEFULLY they will get burned. Folks say they are tired of this kind of crap but like #9 said, there are to many “thoroughly desensitized” sheeple (me included). If you take a stand and fight for change those same sheeple sit around and condemn. Then they log in and act exasperated over the injustices.

    I wonder what our society would be like if everyone just treated others like they wished everyone treated others. Put that in your pipe and toke on it next time you feel like screwing with someone or something that you have no business screwing with but DO just because you can!

    I don’t look for Utopia but damn the judge should have been forced to forefitted their freedom as compensation. Eye for an eye thing. Well that would never work either since so many of the sheeple are back-stabbing selfish pricks. Oh well, no solution here…short of genocide I don’t have anything left but anger…

    Never underestimate the stupidity of people to prove over and over again the stupidity of people.

  28. #28 |  Gimme a break | 

    Hell everyone should just not vote period and see what happens…make a point

  29. #29 |  Salvo | 

    Speaking as a judge (well, administrative law judge), I hate other judges who rely too much on procedure, who hide behind procedure. Too many times, I get people before me arguing for the agency I oversee who’ll say something like “well, technically our action was correct. The procedure allows it.” And at that point, I’ll respond, “yes, but could you have done it the other way?” And they’ll respond “well, yes, but that would have required more work, and again, technically we’re within the law”.

    And then I’ll say, “technically yes, but you’re still an ass. Reversed.”

    Well, except I say it more legal sounding.

    The same principal here. Those who put procedure over justice, especially when the law allows for exceptions (which it almost always does), should be placed under serious scrutiny. I know far too many other judges who just shrug and affirm, because it’s easier to write a 2 page order saying that the agency was within the law instead of a 20 page decision explaining why an exception applies, and besides, the claimant was probably a bad person anyway.

    Procedure over justice is no justice at all. And the thing I want most out of my SCOTUS justices is, you know, justice. Empathy. Clear understanding of the law. I have no doubt she is great on the latter. It’s the first two I worry about.

  30. #30 |  Bill | 

    I was going to post a reply to Michael Chaney, but all I have to do is point at #26, freedomfan, and say, “What he said, except he said it better than I would have.”

    All I would add is that I’m afraid that they don’t even care if it does cost them votes, since they pretty much know that if you get disgusted with X and vote for Y instead of X, you’ll probably be just as disgusted with Y and vote for X again in a few years. After all, nobody would vote for the rest of the alphabet, since they’ll never win, since nobody’s voting for them…

  31. #31 |  josephdietrich | 

    I second #6 above. I’m more liberal than most (although, or perhaps therefore, no Democrat), and if this is Sotomayor’s MO, then I oppose her.

    Jesus, Republicans are incompetent dumbasses. If they just highlighted bulljive like this, their case would have been made. Instead, we get the identity politics stuff.

    Incompetent dumbasses.

  32. #32 |  Salvo | 

    Well, the GOP wouldn’t highlight stuff like that, because a) they agree with it, and b) it’s not a particularly winning argument.

    As disheartening as it seems, a large majority of people are what the D+D geek in me refers to as “lawful neutral”. Don’t question authority. If a law is in place, it justifies itself by being a law, and you’re a bad person for not following it or even criticizing it. If you’re being tasered by the cops, you did something to deserve it. These people are every where. They’re the bureaucrat who will cut a disabled person off of medicaid because they didn’t check the right box. It’s the cop who shoots a 5 pound dog and says it was in department policy. It’s Scalia who writes an opinion that says actual proof of innocence doesn’t matter as long as there was a trial.

    All this is is that sentiment being taken to a conclusion. Yes, it’s unfair that he was incarcerated for so long…but his lawyer did screw up…and it’s the law. There’s a large section out there who confuse what’s legal with what’s right.

    I hate lawful neutral with a passion.

  33. #33 |  nicrivera | 

    Michael Chaney wrote: “You may not have liked Bush, but you knew where he stood.”

    Yep. Like when Bush stated during the 2000 election that he supported smaller government, opposed running up deficits, supported a state’s rights position on medical marijuana, and opposed nation-building.

    I’m sure glad Bush “stood” his ground on those issues.

  34. #34 |  pam | 

    kt@20, thanks for posting the link to that article. In writing, everything I’ve known and encountered since I got involved. It made my day in a very depressing sort of way.

  35. #35 |  supercat | 

    //As disheartening as it seems, a large majority of people are what the D+D geek in me refers to as “lawful neutral”. //

    The irony is that many of those actually in power are anything but lawfully inclined, preferring instead totalitarian anarchy (absolute power, not bound by legitimate authority).