Monday, April 23, 2012

Meras v. Sisto (9th Cir. - April 23, 2012)

Two quick points about this opinion by Judge Kozinski.  Identifying one part of the opinion I somewhat like and one I somewhat don't.

I like the introduction.  Which reads:  "Edward L. Meras, a California state prisoner, appeals the district court’s order denying his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. He claims that testimony introduced during his trial violated his Sixth Amendment right to confrontation. He’s probably right, but he loses anyway."  That's a somewhat funny way of putting it (though I doubt Mr. Meras will agree).  It's also accurate.  Judge Kozinski goes through AEDPA and correctly notes that you don't get relief unless it's clear, and here, it wasn't.  One could even change the word "probably" in the last sentence of the introduction to "virtually certainly" given the existence of recent precedent.  But it doesn't change things.  No habeas relief.

So that's the good part.  Not super good, but worthy of mention, I think.

The bad part's similar minor.  It's a matter of taste, I know, but I don't really like using the term "cert" in an opinion.  It's fine as a citation abbreviation -- "cert. denied" -- but Judge Kozinski repeatedly uses it in the text (e.g., "had Meras filed a cert petition after the California Supreme Court denied review . . .").  I know that Judge Kozinski likes to be informal, and I'm on board for that, but not on this end.  Abbreviating Latin words seems unnecessary.  Even if we all know what you mean.  Judge Kozinski spells out the term in this (and other) opinions.  I think that "certiorari" is a fine word.  No need to shorthand it.

Nor -- just to make clear -- is there any need for Judge Kozinski to make up a different word for it.  Stand pat with "dissental," Alex.  "Certiorariooni" need not appply.