01 November 2010

Who Says Judges Can't Get Learned?

The federal 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in US v. White (No. 09-7933) considered whether Ms. White should be forcibly returned to competency through medication (it ruled she should not).  As part of the Court's consideration it discussed the amount of time her guidelines called for her to serve. Then as an aside, it said in this paragraph
Likely sentence aside, we note that our entire analysis pre- sumes that White will be found guilty. Of course, this assumption belies our judicial system’s fundamental and criti- cal presumption of innocence. Flouting such a seminal aspect of our law is particularly troubling considering that the government must show that important government interests are at stake in prosecuting White, and they must show it via clear and convincing evidence. Our assumption, although necessary to proceed with this analysis, is particularly unsettling in light of our recent precedent in Evans, where we permitted the forcible medication of Evans, a schizophrenic, for the purpose of standing trial, United States v. Evans, No. 06-4480, 2006 WL 2604843 at *1 (4th Cir. Sept. 12, 2006), and separate juries of Evans’s peers found him not guilty of threatening to kill a federal judge and of assault on a federal employee. Judgment of Acquittal, at 1, United States v. Evans, No. 1:07CR00043 (W.D. Va. Nov. 15, 2007). Thus, although we have estimated White’s likely sentence to be 42-51 months, there is some possibility that she would be found not guilty and that the entirety of her pre-trial detention will remain uncredited time.
Not sure if that means they wish they'd not let Evans be forcibly medicated so that he'd still be in the mental ward or if its a concern that they don't want to seem like they're assuming White is guilty, or both.

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