Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Friday, December 10, 2004

Another Reason Not to Move to Washington

As if you needed another reason. It appears that they're all insane.

Okay, not all of them. Carmen Dixon seems like a perfectly rational person. It seems that she recognized that her daughter was having problems, so she started listening in on her phone calls. In one of those snooping sessions she heard her daughter's friend, Oliver, planning a robbery. Ms. Dixon informed the police. The police arrested Oliver. A jury convicted him. The state Supreme Court threw the case out.


"The Supreme Court ruled that Dixon's testimony against a friend of her daughter should not have been admitted in court because it was based on the intercepted conversation. The justices unanimously ordered a new trial for Oliver Christensen, who had been convicted of second-degree robbery in part due to the mother's testimony."

Okay, to be perfectly fair, it doesn't look like the unanimous Supreme Court are the insane ones. The story also reveals that they based their ruling on a statute that requires the consent of all parties before a telephone conversation can be intercepted. In other words, it is the state legislature that is insane. I think it is perfectly reasonable for the state's Supreme Court to apply the law, even when it is outrageously ridiculous. I also must admit that the ACLU, which defended Christensen on appeal (surprise, surprise) was doing what they have an ethical duty to do: zealously advocate on behalf of their client. That doesn't mean they aren't a bunch of barmy moonbat fools, but this ruling is not evidence of that foolishness. No, the real blame here rests with the legislature that decided parents shouldn't be able to actually, ya know, take some responsibility in their children's lives.

Okay, the Supreme Court isn't entire without blame, here. Vacating a jury verdict is not the only remedy on appeal. The rationale behind draconian measures, such as reversing convictions based on police misconduct, is not that the criminal should get away with the crime, but that the police shouldn't benefit from their misconduct. There should be no incentives, in other words, for cops to violate the Bill of Rights.

But does that rational really apply to parents monitoring their teen-age children? The mother's incentive, if she is responsible at all (and here it seems she is) is the well being of her child. That incentive is neither advanced nor diminished by the Supreme Court's throwing out a jury verdict; her primary motivation is to protect her daughter, and getting her scumbag friend chucked in jail is pure gravy. For that reason, and for that reason alone, I might have decided the case differently. But I might not have, and it's simply because a statute is a statute, even when it's an astronomically stupid statute.