Jurisprudence noir

15 Oct

Personal confession time: I dodged law school at least in part because of a lack of enthusiasm for case law. But I might have changed my mind if more judges emulated Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’ brief foray into Hammett-esque noir:

Officer Sean Devlin, Narcotics Strike Force, was working the morning shift. Undercover surveillance. The neighborhood? Tough as a three  dollar steak. Devlin knew. Five years on the beat, nine months with the Strike Force. He’d made fifteen, twenty drug busts in the neighborhood.

Devlin spotted him: a lone man on the corner. Another approached. Quick exchange of words. Cash handed over; small objects handed back. Each man then quickly on his own way. Devlin knew the guy wasn’t buying bus tokens. He radioed a description and Officer Stein picked up the buyer. Sure enough: three bags of crack in the guy’s pocket. Head downtown and book him. Just another day at the office.

Yes, that’s an honest-to-Chandler quote from an otherwise normal dissent from denial to review issued by the court with regards to Pennsylvania v. Dunlap, a rather run of the mill drug case. Check out the full story at the LegalTimes blog.

Apparently some members of the court aren’t satisfied with merely coming to nonsensical decisions that abridge basic human rights; they’re gonna subject us to their derivative writing efforts along the way. Which, I’ll grant, is sort of a hoot.

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One Response to “Jurisprudence noir”

  1. Lorraine Porcello October 15, 2008 at 4:38 pm #

    Maybe you should read some of Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes’ opinions sometime. I’ve heard him referred to as the poetic judge. ;)

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