The Elusive Memo by U.S. Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Sotomayor -- What is Her Position, Today, on the Death Penalty?

As I'm sure you know, Sonia Sotomayor has been nominated by President Obama to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter. For those concerned about capital punishment, it hasn't been that easy to determine exactly what the nominee's position is on the death penalty.

The Elusive Sotomayor Memo.

Judge Sotomayor did not include something she wrote over 20 years ago as part of her confirmation submission. While that may have been oversight, some are suggesting that it means something more - particularly when, for a time, it was hard to find the memo itself to read its full text. (It's been found.   Here's a copy if you would like to review it, provided by the folks over at Crime and Consequences.)

Prosecutors worry about her.

Check out 22-year law enforcement veteran Bruce Castor's concerns, as he discusses the Pennsylvania case of Joseph Kindler in an editorial he wrote for The Patriot News.

Defense attorneys worry about her.

Check out Jeff Gamso's concerns - which also include a review of Sotomayor's precedent and past history dealing with the police - at his blog, Gamso for the Defense.

And, over at Crime and Consequences, they try and take an undecided approach to the issue - viewing the memo as neither a supporter nor an opponent of the death penalty - to see what this memo tells us. It's a lengthy analysis, and worth the read.

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scott huminski - June 26, 2009 1:25 PM


Sotomayor flunks on getting the most basic principle of appellate law wrong – the Standard of Review.

In Huminski v. Haverkoch, 11/5/04, 03-7036 2d. Cir., Sotomayor reveals an ignorance of the law by failing to apply the correct standard of review to an important civil rights case. She found appellate review was for reversible error when the correct standard of review for such a case (summary judgment) is De Novo.

A simple google on, “standard of review for summary judgment de novo” supplies tens of authorities on the issue. I guess Sotomayor would rather be wrong than google on such a rudimentary issue. She also could have assigned her flock of law clerks to research the issue. Further, on a motion for rehearing specifically pointing out her error she did not act and correct it.

Here is the link to the Sotomayor summary order from this case in which she presided over.

See also,

Where the order states “For the Court”, it refers to Sotomayor and the 2 other judges on the case.

Empathy, not much empathy for this wrongly convicted and incarcerated citizen,

See a different case of mine, Huminski v. Corsones, No. 02-6201 (2d Cir. 10/07/2004) (“We review a district court's grant or denial of summary judgment de novo.”)

-- Scott Huminski
(202) 239-1252

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