The Dead Can Vote (at least on the Massachusetts Supreme Court)—UPDATED
Today the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts decided Commonwealth v. McCalop, in which the court concluded that the trial court erred in denying Khamal McCalop’s motion to investigation allegations that racial bias tainted the jury. What is particularly interesting about this case, however, is that the opinion was authored by Chief Justice Ralph Gants.
Under normal circumstances, it is hardly a surprise when the Chief Justice of a court writes an opinion. What is odd about the McCalop opinion, however, is that Chief Gants died on September 14, ten days before the opinion was issued. This is noted in the first footnote of the opinion, which reads: ” Chief Justice Gants participated in the deliberation on this case and authored this opinion prior to his death.”
As readers may recall, there was some controversy when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued opinions in which Judge Stephen Reinhardt participated and, in at least one case (Altera Corp. v. Commissioner, cast the deciding vote on a divided panel. The Supreme Court ultimately took notice, rebuking the Ninth Circuit and reminding its judges that “federal judges are appointed for life, not eternity.”
McCalop is apparently not the only decision released by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court since September 14 to include the late Chief Justice Gants, but it appe
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