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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

SCOTUS Grills California's Hired Appellate Counsel in Landmark Prison Case

Justice Sonia Sotomayor
Ok, we've seen this one coming down the tracks.  The ABA Journal is reporting that Justice Sonia Sotomayor told the managing partner of Sydney Austin's Washington, D.C. office, Carter Phillips, to "slow down from the rhetoric", as Phillips began his argument before the High Court on behalf of the State of California in the Schwarznegger -v- Plata  prison overcrowding case.

Justice Sotomayor also had a series of hard questions for California's appellate attorney such as how his client could possibly explain recent prison deaths and why these prisons are choking with dazed, deranged inmates sitting in their own feces.  She wanted to know what California's plan will be.

 As you can imagine, the present Justice-mix soon erupted and the debate was carried on, heatedly, among the jurists themselves.  The high-powered lawyers were rendered oddly silent, as the intra-jurist discussion was occasionally refereed by Chief Justice John Roberts.

According to eye-witness accounts from among the professional-stocked galleries, Justice Samuel Alito was visibly agitated pondering the prospect of newly released inmates cruising the streets of California and, eventually, the nation.

Court watchers once again believe that the Court will line-up along their classic "ideological" lines, neutralizing each other, 4 votes to 4; and setting up Justice Anthony Kennedy to write the tie-breaking concurring opinion.

Even if the Court's opinion amounts to a mere plurality (less binding on subsequent couts), a landmark prisoner's rights opinion is heralded.  We will, of course, update you on the SCOTUS opinion.  You'll know when this decision hits (March/April?) as it will be all over your evening news.

Meanwhile, the SCOTUSblog has posted two fascinating segments from yesterday's oral arguments. 

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