Friday, September 28, 2007

Bockting v. Bayer (9th Cir. - Sept. 27, 2007)

You don't see many non-death penalty cases bouncing around the courts for almost twenty years. But this one has. And it's still got a little way to go still.

It's a child molestation case, and if you choose to read it, I warn you, it's got some disturbing facts. If only because it seems so concretely real -- the child's reaction to the abuse, her statements and unwillingness to testify at trial, her desire to hug and kiss the abuser when he was confronted with the abuse and asked to leave the home, etc. Chilling.

I'm not going to recount the entire tortured procedural history of the case. Suffice it to say that this case has been before the Nevada Supreme Court repeatedly and twice remanded by the United States Supreme Court. As well as previously discussed in this very blog back in early 2005. Which is perhaps why the name of the case sounds familiar.

Back in 2005, Judge Noonan was in the majority, which found in favor of the defendant. Judge Wallace dissented, and I presaged that Judge Wallace's views "may well command the views of . . . a majority on the Supreme Court." Which, of course, it promptly did, in an opinion written by Justice Alito.

On remand, the Ninth Circuit then had to address the defendant's challenges in light of the Supreme Court's opinion. And, this time, it's Judge Wallace who's writing the majority opinion and Judge Noonan who's the one in dissent. And Judge McKeown, who wrote the original opinion -- perhaps chastened by the Supreme Court's subsequently unanimous reversal -- this time joins Judge Wallace.

Interesting history. Of one of the longest-running non-death penalty cases I've seen in the Ninth Circuit in a while.