Presented with an appalling set of facts, the North Carolina Supreme Court unanimously upheld the defendant’s convictions for murder, kidnapping, sex offense, and felony child abuse. The majority affirmed a sentence of death. Justice Berger’s concurring opinion, addressing only a Miranda issue, was joined by four other justices, making it “the supplemental opinion of the Court.” Justice Earls dissented with regard to capital punishment, concluding the defendant was entitled to a new sentencing hearing. This post summarizes the 225-page opinion in Richardson.
In her concurring opinion in Samia v. United States, No. 22-196, 2023 WL 4139001 (U.S. June 23, 2023), Justice Barrett makes a startling admission: “[W]hy not simply say that the history is inconclusive?” Justice Barrett, remember, clerked for Justice Scalia, author of the watershed confrontation clause case, Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004), which relied heavily upon a historical analysis. See id. at 43 (“We must … turn to the historical background of the Clause to understand its meaning.”). In reciting this history, making it central to interpretation of the Sixth Amendment, Scalia rejected the view that the framers’ intent cannot be recovered from the remaining sources. Cf. California v. Green, 399 U.S. 149, 174 (1970) (Harlan, J., concurring) (“History seems to give us very little insight into the intended scope of the Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause.”). Indeed, Justice Thomas, writing for the majority in Samia, likewise makes “historical practice” a pillar of the Court’s analysis, albeit a history Justice Barrett finds disposable. Samia, 2023 WL 4139001, at *6. This post summarizes opinions issued by the United States Supreme Court on June 23, 2023 (Samia v. United States) and June 27, 2023 (Counterman v. Colorado). These summaries, written by Joseph L. Hyde and Brittany Bromell, respectively, will be added to Smith’s Criminal Case Compendium, a free and searchable database of case summaries from 2008 to present.