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Interesting Dissent from Denial of Certiorari, handed down today in Pennsylvania v. Dunlap, by Chief Justice Roberts and joined by Justice Kennedy. It begins:
North Philly, May 4, 2001. Officer Sean Devlin, Narcotics Strike Force, was working the morning shift. Under­ cover 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.
* * *
That was not good enough for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which held in a divided decision that the police lacked probable cause to arrest the defendant. The Court concluded that a “single, isolated transaction” in a high-crime area was insufficient to justify the arrest, given that the officer did not actually see the drugs, there was no tip from an informant, and the defendant did not at­ tempt to flee. 941 A. 2d 671, 679 (2007). I disagree with that conclusion, and dissent from the denial of certiorari.
Roberts. Kennedy. Correct on the law? You betcha. Just error correction though. Two votes less than four. No dice.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Literary Style of the Opening Paragraph in Pennsylvania v. Dunlap:
  2. Interesting Dissent from Denial of Certiorari,
35 Comments

Literary Style of the Opening Paragraph in Pennsylvania v. Dunlap:

This dissent from denial of certiorari that Orin noted is obviously noteworthy less for its legal analysis and more for the opening paragraph's amusing departure from normal Supreme Court style. This was implicit, I'm pretty sure, in Orin's posts, but I thought I'd make it explicit, and explicitly solicit comments about it.

In particular, are there other examples of such self-conscious stylistic departures in Supreme Court opinions? I can't think of any off the top of my head, though of course there are a few instances (including whole opinions in rhyme, invariably very bad rhyme) in lower courts.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Literary Style of the Opening Paragraph in Pennsylvania v. Dunlap:
  2. Interesting Dissent from Denial of Certiorari,
43 Comments