Patterico's Pontifications


Ron George Surprised Chemerinsky Got Yet Another Basic Fact Wrong . . .

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:16 pm

Apparently California Supreme Court Justice Ron George was shocked that the eminent Erwin Chemerinsky made an egregious mistake in an op-ed that came out the same day Chemerinsky was fired:

n an interview Friday, George said Chemerinsky made a “gross error” that was “very troubling” to the court in an Aug. 16 article that criticized U.S. Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales. Drake offered him the job that same day.

George, an appointee of Gov. Pete Wilson, said that Chemerinsky wrote incorrectly that only one state, Arizona, provided lawyers for death row inmates who want to file a constitutional challenge, known as a habeas corpus petition, to have their sentences or convictions overturned.

George said he was surprised Chemerinsky would make such a mistake. The court asked Court Clerk Frederick K. Ohlrich to write a letter to the editor to The Times to correct the piece.

“None of us could understand how somebody, let alone someone who is very bright and a fine legal scholar, could get that wrong,” George said.

Mr. Chief Justice, the emperor has no clothes. You should not have been surprised at all. He gets it wrong all the time, as the links in this post of mine prove.

By the way, Matt Welch had previously questioned the existence of right-wing bogeymen opposing Chemerinsky’s nomination, but he now acknowledges that some have been located. Matt also kindly links my post; thanks, Matt.

Despite the bogeymen, the university is apparently in negotiations to lure Chemerinsky back. I think that’s all to the good — for the school, for Chemerinsky, and for morality. They signed a contract and should live up to it.

7 Responses to “Ron George Surprised Chemerinsky Got Yet Another Basic Fact Wrong . . .”

  1. I don’t know the first thing about the formal requirements for law school hierarchies. Just as a very casual observation… I have heard Chemerinsky many times on the radio and on the news. He may be a first rate legal scholar but he comes across as a person who would not be a very inspiring or dynamic leader. My impression of him has been one of more or less as sort of a wimpy ideologue. Would he be a good leader for the new law school?

    Milan (90006e)

  2. If I were any more cynical, I’d say that Chemerinsky should be definitely hired (again) to ensure he “rises to his highest level of incompetence” in the most public and transparent manner possible.

    If I were any more cynical…..

    MarkJ (8ac3d8)

  3. For those of us who know nothing about these legal issues, could you please tell us exactly what the error was?

    LTEC (77c169)

  4. I think this might be an example of “efficient breach.”

    Daryl Herbert (4ecd4c)

  5. LTEC,

    I’ll try to respond but I don’t do this for a living so don’t rely too much on it.

    Defendants accused in death penalty cases (and other serious crimes) have a right to counsel – at state expense, if they are indigent – under the Supreme Court case Gideon v Wainwright. Convicted defendants can appeal in state court and, if that fails, they can bring a habeas corpus proceeding in federal court. These are called post-conviction proceedings.

    This 2006 Cornell law review article states that every death penalty state except Alabama provides counsel to indigent death row inmates in post-conviction proceedings:

    “Notably, every active death penalty state today, with the exception of Alabama, provides for the prefiling appointment of counsel to assist indigent death row inmates in the preparation of postconviction petitions challenging their convictions and sentences.”

    The author of the law review article gives citations in footnote 45 to various state statutes that support his statement.

    If this law review article is correct, and it might be given the statement by Justice George in the LA Times’ article, then it seems Chemerinsky was wrong to say only one state provides post-conviction counsel. In fairness, though, the Cornell law review article discusses a Supreme Court case that has been construed not to require counsel in some cases. In addition, I can’t tell if these state statutes provide counsel specifically for habeas corpus proceedings.

    DRJ (4725f3)

  6. I think Chemerinsky is relying on the fact (at least he *says* it’s a fact) that only Arizona has been certified by a federal court as having met the federal requirements for appointed counsel in capital habeas proceedings. But the fact that a court has certified only one state doesn’t mean that all the other states have actively decided not to bother — and that’s what Chemerinsky said in his op-ed. And he’s just flatly wrong about that.

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  7. Browse through this, for example, to read a little about California’s procedures for appointed counsel in capital habeas proceedings.

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

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