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SC justices only human, but think so highly of themselves

12:27 AM January 12, 2016

THE LETTER of lawyer Cesar Solis of Millora Solis & Associates caught my attention as he recalled a grave injustice done by the Supreme Court when it simply ignored facts very material to the defense and imposed the death penalty on the accused (“When irreversibility of death imposition becomes tragedy,” Opinion, 1/5/15).

Solis lamented that while parole might have been available for such a convict had the lesser penalty been properly imposed due to the indisputable lack of proof of a qualifying circumstance, that was foreclosed by the lethal injection. Why the Supreme Court ruled in blatant defiance of “well-settled jurisprudence” got him wondering no end.

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Supreme Court justices are just as human as we are. They do commit errors in their judgment. The only problem is, they think so highly of themselves they believe it is too far beneath them to give the views of ordinary mortals more than short shrift. The likes of Solis can shout themselves hoarse or drive truckloads of jurisprudence through its gates; but if the Supreme Court has made up its mind, nothing can make it take a pause—except perhaps threats of impeachment in cases where it really pisses off the legislative or executive branch!

Take, for instance, the case of a young man (People vs Feliciano, Soliva, et al.) convicted on the lone testimony of a witness who, when asked by policemen just moments after the attack, said he couldn’t recognize any one of those who attacked him and his companions (one of whom died) because they were all wearing masks; and then months later in court, said he recognized Soliva as one of the attackers! What right-thinking man, even with only common sense to go by, would ever find that kind of testimony as “proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt”? And yet, there it was, the Supreme Court took that fabricated story hook, line and sinker! As an alleged conspirator, Soliva was sentenced to life in jail together with the rest. He was only in his 20s then; now in his 40s he still languishes there!

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Is Soliva still lucky he only got life (instead of the death penalty which has been abolished)? Solis might find consolation in the thought that at least there is still the prospect of parole for him (after more than 20 years of incarceration)! But the more important question is, why was he convicted of any crime at all when, except for one flip-flopping witness, no other prosecution witness had placed him anywhere near the scene of the crime? Again, whatever happened to “well-settled jurisprudence” which holds that a statement made during or immediately after a “startling occurrence” is more believable than that made after a clear opportunity to make up a story?

—MARGIE MEGAN LIBRANDO, [email protected]

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TAGS: Cesar Solis, law, lawyer, letter, opinion, Supreme Court
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