Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Chief Justice of Intentionally Bad Crime Fiction

As you may have heard (perhaps even from the last episode of Saturday Night Live, no less) Chief Justice Roberts made his comedic opinion writing debut last week, in a dissent to the Court’s denial of certiorari in a case where the Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out a drug bust for lack of probable cause.  Here’s how the Chief began his opinion:

North Philly, May 4, 2001. Officer Sean Devlin, Narcotics Strike Force, was working the morning shift. Undercover surveillance. The neighborhood? Tough as a three dollar steak. Devlin knew. Five years on the beat, nine months with the Strike Force. He’d made fifteen, twenty drug busts in the neighborhood.

Devlin spotted him: a lone man on the corner. Another approached. Quick exchange of words. Cash handed over; small objects handed back. Each man then quickly on his own way. Devlin knew the guy wasn’t buying bus tokens. He radioed a description and Officer Stein picked up the buyer. Sure enough: three bags of crack in the guy’s pocket. Head downtown and book him. Just another day at the office.


Roberts went on to attack the PA court’s decision as contradictory to SCOTUS precedent.  Interestingly, Justice Kennedy joined the dissent.

A good try at lightening things up, but, no disrespect to Chief Justice Roberts, but I still prefer those Gilbert and Sullivan stripes.

rehnquist stripes

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