"If the judges interpret the laws themselves, and suffer none else to interpret, they may easily make, of the laws, [a shredded] shipman's hose!" - King James I of England, around 1616.

“No class of the community ought to be allowed freer scope in the expression or publication of opinions as to the capacity, impartiality or integrity of judges than members of the bar. They have the best opportunities of observing and forming a correct judgment. They are in constant attendance on the courts. Hundreds of those who are called on to vote never enter a court-house, or if they do, it is only at intervals as jurors, witnesses or parties. To say that an attorney can only act or speak on this subject under liability to be called to account and to be deprived of his profession and livelihood by the very judge or judges whom he may consider it his duty to attack and expose, is a position too monstrous to be entertained for a moment under our present system,” Justice Sharwood in Ex Parte Steinman and Hensel, 95 Pa 220, 238-39 (1880).

case illustrates to me the serious consequences to the Bar itself of not
affording the full protections of the First Amendment to its applicants for admission.
For this record shows that [the rejected attorney candidate] has many of the
qualities that are needed in the American Bar. It shows not only that [the
rejected attorney candidate] has followed a high moral, ethical and patriotic
course in all of the activities of his life, but also that he combines
these more common virtues with the uncommon virtue of courage to stand by his
principles at any cos

It is such men as these who have most greatly honored the profession of the
law. The legal profession will lose much of its nobility and its glory if it is
not constantly replenished with lawyers like these. To force the Bar to become a
group of thoroughly orthodox, time-serving, government-fearing individuals is to
humiliate and degrade it.”
Re Anastaplo,
18 Ill. 2d 182, 163 N.E.2d 429
(1959), cert. granted, 362 U.S. 968 (1960), affirmed over strong
366 U.S. 82 (1961), Justice Black, Chief Justice Douglas and Justice Brennan,

“Because the law requires that judges no matter how corrupt, who do not act in the clear absence of jurisdiction while performing a judicial act, are immune from suit, former Judge Ciavarella will escape liability for the vast majority of his conduct in this action. This is, to be sure, against the popular will, but it is the very oath which he is alleged to have so indecently, cavalierly, baselessly and willfully violated for personal gain that requires this Court to find him immune from suit”, District Judge A. Richard Caputo in H.T., et al, v. Ciavarella, Jr, et al, Case No. 3:09-cv-00286-ARC in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Document 336, page 18, November 20, 2009. This is about judges who were sentencing kids to juvenile detention for kickbacks.

"The legal profession must take great care not to emulate the many occupational groups that have managed to convert licensure from a sharp weapon of public defense into blunt instrument of self-enrichment". Walter Gellhorn, "The Abuse of Occupational Licensing", University of Chicago Law Review, Volume 44 Issue 1, September of 1976.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Death sentences in Florida and retroactivity of the U.S. Supreme Court precedents

In Marbury v Madison, a seminal 1803 case, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that an unconstitutional law is void.

"Void" means a nullity - like the law has never been made.

It means that, once a court of law pronounces any law unconstitutional, it is as if that law has never been passed, and has never been legal.

In January of 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court found the Florida death penalty law unconstitutional.

It should mean - under Marbury v Madison - that the Florida death penalty law is void and a nullity, as if it has been never enacted, and that all death sentences under that law are similarly void.

Yet, today the Florida Supreme Court reversed only those death penalty sentences that were made after 2002, or whose appeals were still pending in 2002 - indicating that the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court will not be made retroactive before that date for other death sentences.

Which raises an issue - did the Florida Supreme Court invent a new definition for "void"?

And, how many more people should be unlawfully executed, in addition to the one already unconstitutionally executed (Ronald Bert Smith Jr., in Alabama, even though his death sentence was imposed by a judge and not a jury, in contradiction with the January U.S. Supreme Court precedent), because their sentences were unconstitutionally made "too long" of a time ago?

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