ABA: "Alito’s first opinion favors murder defendant"

It is undoubtedly good politically that Alito start off with a decision such as this because it will slightly take the edge off attacks on his later decisions. Personally, I also don't think that this particular case is troublesome to conservatives either.

In his first opinion for the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., a former federal prosecutor, overturned a South Carolina Supreme Court ruling restricting a murder defendant’s right to produce evidence that another person committed the crime.

The South Carolina Supreme Court had ruled that since the state had strong forensic evidence of the defendant’s guilt, he was precluded from introducing his evidence of third-party guilt.

Writing for a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court in Holmes v. South Carolina, No. 04-1327, Alito said the state court erred in evaluating only the strength of the prosecution’s case and not the defendant’s evidence. Criticizing the South Carolina rule as "arbitrary," Alito said it violated the defendant’s constitutional right to present a complete defense.

"The true strength of the prosecution’s proof cannot be assessed without considering challenges to the reliability of the prosecution’s evidence," wrote Alito, who served in the office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey and in the Justice Department. His opinion vacated the judgment of the South Carolina court and remanded for further proceedings. . . .


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