ShareThis Page

A Supreme rebuke: 9th Circuit's backfire

| Thursday, March 24, 2011

In its 10th reversal of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in five months, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a dressing-down much like a frustrated parent would give to a stubborn, misbehaving child:

"That decision is as inexplicable as it is unexplained. It is reversed," the high court said in a unanimous per curiam ruling that restored the conviction of a California rapist.

Now, most children know when they've crossed the line. Does the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit• Probably not.

The Supreme Court's exasperation is understandable. In this case a black defendant was convicted for the rape and robbery of a 72-year-old woman. But during jury selection, the defense questioned why the prosecutor acted to remove two black jurors. The trial judge sided with the prosecutor, agreeing that the prosecution had race-neutral reasons for removing the jurors based on specific aspects of their backgrounds.

A California appeals court agreed there was no discrimination. So did the state's Supreme Court. As did a U.S. district judge in a 40-page opinion.

But guess what happened when the appeal eventually landed at the 9th Circuit, that bastion of liberal interpretations , despite a 1996 law that makes it difficult for federal judges to overturn state courts without a darn good reason?

This time the 9th Circuit's fully loaded bombast went off in its face.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.