Tuesday, December 07, 2004

More on Miller-El

One more post on Thomas Miller-El, whose case was argued -- for the second time -- before the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday.

Reading the Houston Chronicle's article summarizing the case, one can anticipate that this is not going to be a close call for the court. Here's how the article starts out:

Court majority finds discrimination

Justices say prosecutors left blacks off jury deliberately in death penalty case
Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - Faced with a Dallas County prosecutor's old training manual advising against choosing jurors who are black, Jewish, Hispanic, Italian-American, bearded, fat or female, a U.S. Supreme Court majority said Monday that a black defendant clearly suffered discrimination when blacks were excluded from his 1986 jury.

Antonin Scalia was the only justice to speak in favor of the state of Texas, which executes more killers than any other and is defending the way Thomas Miller-El was sentenced to die for capital murder.

For the second time in two years, the high court heard legal arguments from the state and the convict's lawyers Monday. A decision on Miller-El's move to overturn his conviction is expected by July.

Most of the justices Monday were openly critical of the lower courts that handle Texas death penalty cases. Court-watchers predicted the court will again try to corral what is considered a rogue appeals court, the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Perhaps the only question now involves how strong the rebuke will be.

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