Monday, February 25, 2008

Wilson - The Lost in the Shuffle Post

Once CAAFlog posts his thoughts on Wilson you can discard this footnote to the case from your short term memory. Here goes . . .

After reading Judge Ryan wax philosophically for 24 pages and Chief Judge Effron write 11 pages on a topic with which no one could be more familiar than he, Judge Baker's 5 page dissent in Wilson seems out of place. Yet, it is perfect in its simplicity, especially after reading the prior two works of art.

Essentially, Judge Baker argues that if great minds can differ so greatly regarding the key issue of whether a statutory-regulatory scheme assigns a particular intent level to the elements of an offense (and elements they are my friend!), ought we not use the rule of lenity and construe the ambiguous criminal statute in favor of the accused . . . until the President of Congress fix the ambiguity? While Judge Baker had me at Apprendi, the simple writing style in this dissent (no woodland creatures, ocean adventures, or Dolly Sods here) really hits the mark. Reasonable minds might differ on the substance of the issue in the case, but it is hard to argue with Judge Baker's logic that the tie goes to the guy whose liberty is one the line (though I note for posterity that this accused only got an SPCM, big chicken dinner, and 80 days confinement out of this case).

3 comments:

John O'Connor said...

No Man:

That argument is reminiscent of the sophistry that if a contract clause has been construed more than one way by courts over the years, is is therefore ambiguous and should be forever treated as such by the courts. Sort of the "if one dumb court gets it wrong, then that dumb court controls the result forever" argument.

I hope you do better work for your law firm (wink).

No Man said...

Lots of law firms have plenty of dumb Associates, but I don't find Judge Baker's argument to be short on legal reasoning at all. I also don't find CAAFlog or Chief Judge Effron's analysis short on legal reasoning either---the source of the ambiguity. If you think that just because I am a slave to the billable hour I somehow can't have an independent thought of my own, I refer you to my posts on Apprendi---with which only a handful of people agree, and an even smaller group feel the argument to be dim witted.

John O'Connor said...

Settle down Francis. It was a joke (hence the (wink) at the end).