I was the lead defense attorney in People vs. Memro, a capital case recently reversed by the California Supreme Court. The majority of the citizens who do not support our current Supreme Court bench have never read an opinion written by these jurists. It is not the Supreme Court that is responsible for the high reversal rate of capital cases. Ineptitude of trial judges and prosecutors is the blame. The above-cited case is but one example.
Like other citizens who complain about the "intellectuals" on the Supreme Court bench, many of our trial judges and prosecutors fail to read and learn from earlier cases. It is always the poorly informed conservative that is anti-intellectual. Responsible conservatives and liberals alike support bright leaders.
Blaming the Supreme Court for the high reversal rate is like blaming the umpires for Dodger strikeouts. I spend hours each month reading cases and studying ways to improve my skills in capital cases. These cases are the major leagues of the criminal justice system and I suggest that our trial judges and prosecutors take extra batting practice rather than complain about the umpires.
Our Supreme Court justices could be earning higher salaries, working shorter hours, and taking less flak in the private sector. They have families and homes like most of us and don't want to turn criminals loose. Crime is a threat to them as much as us. Their courage to follow the rule of law despite the political attacks from anti-intellectuals among us is commendable.
The most disturbing aspect of the controversy over our Supreme Court is that our elected legislators and governor seek politically motivated media attention by pointing an accusing finger at the Supreme Court. The fact is that the court is given the role of trying to make sense out of the hundreds of poorly written and hastily concocted laws generated by the more politically sensitive branches of our government.
There has never been a major scandal associated with the Supreme Court. The same cannot be said for our executive and legislative branches. Any outrage at the reversal of a few cases per year should be directed at the amateurish lawmakers in Sacramento whose first priority is to get reelected. Just because they too continue to strike out, I, for one, don't wish to "kill the ump."
PETER M. WILLIAMS