Friday, May 23, 2008

Thumbs Up for Procedural Safeguards

The Seattle Times reprints an editorial from the Spokesman Review applauding the state Supreme Court for a ruling that reversed a drug conviction because of procedural issues.

A cynic will call procedural errors technicalities. A civil libertarian will exalt them as bedrock constitutional protections.

They're both right.
Opinion | Editorial views from across the state | Seattle Times Newspaper, May 23, 2008.

The case in question was State v. Montgomery, No. 79564-9 Wa Courts majority (Chambers, J.), concurrence (Madsen, J.), concurrence (J.M. Johnson, J.) (May 15, 2008). The majority summarizes:
Virgil Montgomery challenges both his conviction for possession of pseudoephedrine with intent to manufacture methamphetamine and his standard range 51-month sentence. Among other arguments, Montgomery asserts his trial was tainted by improper opinion testimony, an improper missing witness instruction, and improper argument about missing potential defense witnesses. We agree with Montgomery that the State's opinion testimony was improper, as was the missing witness argument and instruction. Although we find some of the error harmless, we agree that Montgomery was denied a fair trial. We reverse his conviction, and remand for a new trial.

No comments: