Monday, June 11, 2012

"Brutus is an honorable man"

Mark Tushnet

From today's Supreme Court decision in Parker v. Matthews, summarily reversing the Sixth Circuit in a death penalty habeas corpus case:

[T]he Sixth Circuit held that certain remarks made by the prosecutor during his closing argument constituted a denial of due process.... by suggesting that [the defendant] had colluded with his lawyer ... and [his expert witness] to manufacture an extreme emotional disturbance defense. But although the Sixth Circuit quoted a lengthy section of the prosecutor's closing argument which could be understood as raising a charge of collusion, the court did not address the prosecutor's statement that immediately followed the quoted portion and expressly disavowed any suggestion of collusion:
     "And that's not to say that [the lawyer] is unethical. Not at all. He is entitled to the best defense he can get,   but that's the only defense he has, what the doctor has to say, and that's not to say that the doctor gets on the stand and perjures himself. He's telling you the truth. He wouldn't perjure himself for anything. He's telling you the truth, Ladies and Gentlemen."

The heading on this post is not to say that the Court's ultimate legal analysis was incorrect, but only that it's analysis of the prosecutor's rhetoric was overly simple.

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