aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,
aefenglommung
aefenglommung

Last words

The Supreme Court has upheld the admissibility of a dying person's last words as evidence in a criminal prosecution. The vote was 6-2, with a blistering dissent by Antonin Scalia. (Ruth Ginsberg also dissented.) I don't understand Justice Scalia's point of view.

Sure, the right to confront one's accuser is important, but historically, dying declarations have been deemed important and been given much respect. Yes, someone could lie at that time; likewise, one could be in error as one accuses someone with one's dying breath. But last words are facts, like any other facts, and should be weighed by a jury.

In Indiana, a dying declaration ended the political ascendancy of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s. Grand Dragon D.C. Stephenson, who bragged that he ran Indiana from the shadows, took a fancy to a young woman named Madge Oberholtzer. When she rejected his overtures, he lured her to his home, kidnaped her, raped her, and finally poisoned her. It took her two weeks to die (of mercury poisoning and kidney failure). During that time, she gave a detailed statement before witnesses of what had happened to her. Stephenson was sent to prison and the Indiana KKK went from political powerhouse to virtually nonexistent overnight.

Would Justice Scalia say that Oberholtzer's sworn testimony from beyond the grave should have been excluded at trial? Much as I admire his legal acumen in most things, I think he's way off base in this case. I'm with the majority on this one.
Subscribe

  • Time Warp

    I’ve been researching old tunes to match the lyrics of “The Wife of Usher’s Well,” an old British ballad about a woman whose three sons who were lost…

  • The Eccentric and the Weirdo

    Many years ago, I read an essay in TIME magazine by Pico Iyer called, “The Eccentric and the Weirdo.” This followed upon some outrage committed by…

  • The diagnosis is the easy part

    A world dominated by China will be an uglier world. To keep China from bullying other nations, the US and our friends and allies need to decide where…

  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 2 comments