Boston Legal takes on the Supreme Court

Last night on ABC’s “Boston Legal,” an attorney at the fictitious firm of Crane, Poole & Schmidt argued a death penalty case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Material for the episode was likely derived from the actual case of Patrick Kennedy, a black man from Louisiana sentenced to death for the rape of his then 8-year-old stepdaughter. The real Supreme Court heard Kennedy’s appeal last week.

Beyond that, though, this was hardly a case of art imitating life. The laughs are few and far between in the 73-page transcript (PDF) of the Kennedy proceedings (though R. Ted Cruz, solicitor general for the amicus state of Texas, has a good line about Saxon law and William the Conqueror’s “kinder, gentler” version on page 52.)

Things were much livelier on the show, where Alan Shore, known for his persuasive closing arguments and inappropriate courtroom comments, took the opportunity to lambaste several justices individually and the court as a whole. Here are a few choice tidbits, as well as a clip on YouTube:

  • “You all testified under oath that you never actually considered how you would rule on abortion. You must be kidding! Never gave it a thought! No perjury there?”
  • “Justice Scalia, you went duck-hunting with Vice-President Cheney while he was a named defendant in a case before this court. Congratulations on not getting shot by the way.”

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My favorite part was when Shore’s speech prompted a response from Justice Clarence Thomas, who sits silently during most arguments.

Notwithstanding the fact that the court would never let this happen (nor would any attorney I know ever speak like this to the Supreme Court of the United States), what do you think about Shore’s argument, or his comic-insult advocacy?

CHRISTINA DORAN, Assistant Legal Editor

Wanted: Law-related license plates

Seen on Charles Street yesterday: a cool law-themed license plate. It was an out-of-state plate, possibly from Ohio or North Carolina, bearing the letters “PRO BONO.” I guess the owner must be big on doing free legal work for the needy. Either that or it’s someone who really, really likes U2.

Anyway, the car attached to the plate was pulling into one of the University of Baltimore’s parking lots, so maybe the driver was heading to an event at the law school. Anyone out there, maybe someone at UB, know who the driver was?

While we’re at it, what’s the best law-related license plate you’ve seen? Snap a picture of it and send it my way, and maybe we’ll post it on the blog.

CARYN TAMBER, Legal Affairs Writer

Providing peace of mind through GPS

A proposal to use GPS to track people who violate protective orders gained ground last week, when the Illinois House passed the measure and sent it on to the state Senate.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the innovative monitoring program is modeled on one that’s been in use in Massachusetts for more than a year in domestic violence cases, and since 2005 for sex offenders.

The program uses a GPS-fitted cell phone that checks where the person is once a minute, then sends the data to three central tracking centers every five minutes. An ankle bracelet is wirelessly connected to the phone, which alerts authorities if the wearer attempts to move into an excluded zone, cut the bracelet or leave the cell phone behind.

According to the article, if the Illinois legislation becomes law, victims would be contacted automatically if the violator goes into an excluded zone. However, in Massachusetts, the victim is only contacted if a court order requires it.

What do you think about this legislation? Do victims deserve the peace of mind, or does it unconstitutionally infringe on the privacy of rights of the accused?

CHRISTINA DORAN, Assistant Legal Affairs Editor