Tuesday, April 27, 2010

No justice in America

In 1990, Charles Hood was convicted of multiple homicide and sentenced to death by a Texas court. Long after the trial ended, it was discovered that the prosecutor and the judge had been in a covert relationship for some time. In most countries (including New Zealand), this would have led to an immediate retrial, on the grounds that it fatally undermined the defendant’s right to a fair trial. But not in the United States. The Texas court of appeal denied Hood's request for a retrial on the procedural grounds that it was too late to appeal the issue, even though Hood did not know about it at the time. And the US Supreme Court, which just last year ruled that a judge who has accepted $3 million in electoral donations from a party appearing before him should have recused himself,has denied leave to appeal without even giving a reason.

This is what passes for "justice" in America. And quite clearly, it isn't. The impartiality of judges is a fundamental requirement for any fair trial. But the United States courts will not enforce it. And as long as they refuse to, as long as they allow biased judges to sit on cases without penalty or remedy, then there is no justice in America.

[Hat-tip: Slate]