"The concern for the truth is no longer the central concern of the justice system," a critic of criminal law told an audience of about 25 students at the Law School last night.
According to William Tucker, author of Vigilante: The Backlash against Crime in America, this concern for truth recently "has been superseded by the concern for the procedural aspect of criminal law."
Tucker referred to a California federal judge who was voted out of office earlier this week, partly because she consistently voted to overturn death sentences.
Rose E. Bird, the 49-year-old former chief justice of the California Supreme Court, and the other liberal justices on the court have used the exclusionary rule alone to prevent the executions of more than 40 convicts on California's death row.
On Tuesday, California voters soundly rejected Bird and two of her liberal colleagues on the court, Associate Justices Joseph Grodin and Cruz Reynoso, marking the first time in the state's history that any justices of the state's Supreme Court have been removed from office.
The campaign against Bird centered on her refusal to uphold the death sentences in all 61 capital cases that came before the court during her nine-year tenure. A coalition of political conservatives, county prosecutors, and relatives of murder victims lobbyed to remove Bird and her associates, empowering Republican Governor George Deukmejian to pick conservatives to fill the vacant judicial seats.
"These people don't want to enforce the death penalty," Tucker said, referring to the defeated justices. "They're obstructing the public will."
"That is why Rose Bird was defeated and I think that was perfectly justified," the frequent contributor the Atlantic Monthly added.
Under the provisions of the exclusionary rule, "the police have to describe in precise detail what they expect to find," Tucker said. "They have to say 'When we go to this person's house, we have to find this and this.' If not, the case is thrown out as invalid."
"The point is that the exclusionary rule doesn't put punishment where it belongs," Tucker said. "It violates the 14th Amendment because it only protects the guilty."