Wednesday, February 02, 2005

People v. Young (Cal. Supreme Ct. - January 31, 2005)

Here's a 90-page opinion in which the California Supreme Court -- surprise, surprise -- unanimously upholds a death sentence. The only reason the opinion is particuarly memorable is because Justice Brown concurs (to her own opinion) and argues that African-American women may well not be a cognizable group for purposes of Batson, and that judicial recognition of this group may actually strengthen pernicious stereotypes.

I don't have any particularly insightful thoughts about either the opinion or the concurrence. I just wish that I didn't have this overrarching sense that the motivations for both are far from pristine: that the members of the Court approach death penalty cases with a keen eye on the risk of becoming the next Rose Bird, and that Justice Brown has a separate agenda of her own as well. That these cases -- perhaps more than all the others combined -- get decided with a very jaundiced eye, far from entirely on the merits.