As we draw near the annual ‘election day’, most of us are getting bombarded by political campaign advertisements and candidate interviews. I found myself considering a couple such instances the other day and caught my ‘critical thinking’ mode kicking in and thought they would make for worthy examples of the topic.
The first time I noticed myself doing it was after hearing an advertisement for two Michigan justices, Robert Young and Mary Beth Kelly.
The ad starts out commenting about the ‘wrongs’ of ‘legislating from the bench’. But then in the middle of the ad they extol as a virtue the fact that Young fought to keep a man behind bars who was being let off on a technicality. Although this is not an immediate sign of a hypocrisy, it is cause for question. i.e. if someone is facing a technicality that may overturn their verdict, those are generally resulting from laws that protect everyone against violations of rights. To seek to circumvent such ‘technicalities’ may well constitute ‘legislating from the bench’.
Shortly after I heard this and drew those conclusions, the morning host Frank Beckmann was interviewing the democratic candidate for Michigan’s attorney general post, former Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton. Leyton drew criticisms upon his opponent, Court of Appeals Judge Bill Schuette, for ‘lack of legal experience’. He then went back to the same theme condemning Schuette for throwing out a confession for a conviction made by Leyton while prosecutor resulting in the charges being overturned on a murder charge.
The thought then struck me that ‘Court of Appeals’ is not only ‘legal experience’ but a problem with a confession is not a flaw of an appeals court judge. A judge on the appeals court that overturns a conviction based on a technicality is doing his job. (no where in the example did Leyton say that the ruling of Schuette was overturned by a higher court)
On the contrary, a problem with a confession used in getting a conviction that can be judged as subject to a violation of the defendants rights (a ‘technicality) is a prosecutorial error. He was condemning himself by the statement.
I couldn’t help but wonder how many people would have caught either of those two issues. Thus I bring them up as example. That thing on your shoulders is meant for more than a great place to put hats! Use it!