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