Average Joe SCOTUS: United States v. Zubaydah

So, remember 9/11? Al Qaeda and those merry band of assholes who flew planes into places planes aren’t supposed to be flown, and killed a lot of innocent people? Well, if so, you probably also remember they were lead by the king of all assholes, Osama Bin Laden.

Well, Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn who goes by the name Abu Zubaydah was a former friend of that scumbag. And his dumb ass got caught by American troops in Pakistan. They sent him on an all-expenses paid trip to Gitmo.

While he was enjoying the hospitality of the United States military, he claims to have been the victim of enhanced interrogations at a CIA site in Poland, known as a “black site.” If you’re unfamiliar, “enhanced interrogations” is supposedly code for torture. But torture these days is more about causing distress, than physical harm, and I think being reasonable and fair, should not be considered the same as things like electrocuting someone’s balls while they sit in a bath of water or something.

Anyway, he complained and said that they were mean to him, and he felt that was cause for releasing him. He asked they compel the CIA operative in Poland at the time to come testify on what happened. But the CIA was like, “You know, there’s this thing called state secrets privileges, where we can keep our fucking mouths shut if we can clearly show the country could be harmed if we opened them.”

In opening remarks, US counsel pointed out that what happens at these sites, could cause irreparable harm to our allies, since they occurred in their countries. Further bolstering his argument about why state secrets privilege plays a roll here.

In a 7:2 decision, SCOTUS sided with the United States, Gorsuch and Sotomayor, the dissenters. This allows the United States to keep it’s secrets from Zubaydah, and everyone else, regarding a black site in Poland, because it could harm both the US and Poland if the CIA and it’s peeps were to publicly testify about it.

Gorsuch and Sotomayor were just like, “This shit happened two decades ago, the shit’s been declassified, and there’s all kinds of books and movies about it already. What fucking secret are we protecting here exactly?

I’m guessing that the majority were like, “Yeah, but if we set precedent here, we open up a whole can of worms for the future. So STFU Neil and Sonia.

Hear oral arguments and read about the case here.

Average Joe SCOTUS: Brown v. Davenport

Back in 2008, all round scumbag, Ervine Lee Davenport was convicted of murder. During his trial, he was restrained with shackles and shit, presumably because someone thought he was dangerous enough to require as much.

Here’s the rub. In  Deck v. Missouri, SCOTUS ruled that shackling a criminal during a trial, biases the jury against the shackled person, and thus violates their right to a fair trial. So the state is required to show some reason why the dude must be shackled up, which didn’t happen in Davenport’s case.

When Davenport challenged his conviction, a Michigan appellate court argued that his shackling was harmless in biasing the jury, as he admitted he killed the person. His argument was self-defense, but prosecutors were also trying to prove premeditation, not whether he was the killer.

While Davenport’s section was curtained off in court to hide the shackles and such, the jurors admitted seeing that he was shackled, and discussing it. But they all suggested it did not affect their decision to convict.

Other precedents are involved here, though. In 1993,   in Brecht v. Abrahamson, the court adopted a harmless error review, the court ruled that in order for someone to win on appeal in such a situation, they have to show that the thing in question did harm them. So like, did these jurors seeing the shackles, form an opinion they wouldn’t have, had they not seen that shit.

Years after Brecht, congress passed the AEDPA, which basically limits the “Get out of jail free” card for someone, on a technicality such as this. Even if there is some constitutional violation, like shackling a defendant for no good reason, unless they can show that it definitely poisoned the jury, that conviction stays in place.

As the case made its way to the 6th circuit court of appeals, they were like, “Woah, Michigan. Clearly, these shackles would have poisoned the jury against Davenport. That’s why there’s a case specifically about this shit. We aren’t just going to take your word that it didn’t poison the jury. Those dumb fucks were poisoned to the point of being brainwashed, and would probably say they weren’t, just so this mother fucker would rot in jail. Overturned, bitches!”

In a split 6:3 decision along political lines, the conservative justices sided with Brown though, overturning the 6th circuit’s decision. They argued that while the 6th circuit’s decision jived with the Brecht ruling, it failed the AEDPA’s standards miserably, and unless it passes both tests, no habeas relied is to be granted. As such, the 6th circuit are a bunch of dumb fucks.

The difference being that Brecht test is basically that the action must show, “substantial and injurious effect or influence on the verdict.” But the AEDPA is basically saying, “you only get relief if the decisions was either totally the opposite of what established law says, or based on some bullshit determination of the facts presented.”

In the liberal justices dissent, they argued that if it fails the Brecht test, it has to fail the AEDPA test, presumably because it it “contrary to established law” as outlined in the Brecht precedent. That’s a bit of a stretch, since precedent isn’t law.

But anyway, Davenport may continue to rot in prison, enjoying his prison food, and reading his prison books.

Hear oral arguments and read about the case here. https://www.oyez.org/cases/2021/20-826