Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Smith v. Baldwin (9th Cir. - Oct. 24, 2006)

This is a longie but a goodie.

The appeal involves a not-too-surprising fight between Judge Reinhardt (who write the majority opinion) and Judge Bybee (who dissents) in a criminal habeas case. It's pretty obvious, even without reading a single word of the opinions, which side each of them is going to support.

Still, the depth of their disagreement is unusual, even for two such strong-willed individuals. I know it's going to be hard to convince anyone to read a case that tops out 87 single-spaced pages. But I'll try to entice you to do so by quoting merely a small portion of a single paragraph of Judge Bybee's dissent, in which he writes: "I disagree with nearly every word the majority has written, including 'and' and 'the.' My profound disagreement is not limited to the facts, but runs throughout the majority opinion." Nice!

There's a lot more in here, including a very interesting (and extremely well done) discussion of the felony murder rule as applied to burglary; e.g., whether every -- or even most -- burglaries "likely" result in death sufficient to justify a murder conviction under the felony murder rule.

Good stuff. And a great debate between Judges Reinhardt and Bybee.

Worth the length.