This book examines the right to a neutral and detached decisionmaker as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court. This right resides in the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment guarantees to procedural due process and in the Sixth Amendment’s promise of an impartial jury. Supreme Court cases on these topics are the vehicles to understand how these constitutional rights have come alive. First, the book surveys the right to an impartial jury in criminal cases by telling the stories of defendants whose convictions were overturned after they were the victims of prejudicial pretrial publicity, mob justice, and discriminatory jury selection. Next, the book articulates how our modern notion of judicial impartiality was forged by the Court striking down cases where judges were bribed, where they had other direct financial stakes in the outcome of the case, and where a judge decided the case of a major campaign supporter. Finally, the book traces the development of the right to a neutral decisionmaker in quasi-judicial, non-court settings, including cases involving parole revocation, medical license review, mental health commitments, prison discipline, and enemy combatants. Each chapter begins with the typically shocking facts of these cases being retold, and each chapter ends with a critical examination of the Supreme Court’s ultimate decisions in these cases.
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About the Author
Eric T. Kasper is an associate professor of political science for the University of Wisconsin Colleges and serves as the municipal judge in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, where he lives with his wife Julie and their two children, Madison and Jackson. This is his third book, having previously written Don’t Stop Thinking About the Music: The Politics of Songs and Musicians in Presidential Campaigns (with Benjamin Schoening) and To Secure the Liberty of the People: James Madison’s Bill of Rights and the Supreme Court’s Interpretation.
Table of Contents
Introduction: A Short History of What It Means to Be a Neutral, Impartial, and Unbiased Decisionmaker
Part One: An Impartial Jury Trial in Criminal Cases
1. Prejudicial Pretrial Publicity: Sheppard v. Maxwell (1966)
2. Avoiding Mob Justice: Frank v. Mangum (1915) and Moore v. Dempsey (1923)
3. Racial Discrimination in Jury Selection: Batson v. Kentucky (1986) and Miller-El v. Dretke (2005)
4. Sex Discrimination in Jury Selection: Hoyt v. Florida (1961) and Taylor v. Louisiana (1975)
5. Death-Qualified Juries: Witherspoon v. Illinois (1968) and Lockhart v. McCree (1986)
Part Two: Due Process and the Right to an Impartial Judge
6. Mayor-Judges with a Financial Stake in the Outcome: Tumey v. Ohio (1927) and Ward v. Village of Monroeville (1972)
7. A Judge Hearing a Contempt Proceeding after Being Vilified by the Defendant: Mayberry v. Pennsylvania (1971)
8. Non-Lawyer Judges: North v. Russell (1976)
9. The Judge Who Was Bribed in Other Cases: Bracy v. Gramley (1997)
10. A Judge Deciding a Case Involving a Major Campaign Supporter: Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co. (2009)
Part Three: Due Process and the Right to an Impartial
Decisionmaker in Quasi-Judicial, Non-Court Settings
11. Parole Revocation: Morrissey v. Brewer (1972)
12. Medical License Review: Withrow v. Larkin (1975)
13. Mental Health Commitments for Juveniles: Parham v. J.R. (1979)
14. Prison Discipline: Edwards v. Balisok (1997)
15. Enemy Combatant Cases: Hamdi v. Rumsfeld (2004)
Catalog of Cases
What People are Saying About This
Without due process and impartial adjudication, none of our constitutional liberties could be secure. Yet the imperative importance of such rights is not considered as often as it should be. Eric Kasper’s engaging and important Impartial Justice provides an excellent remedy to this situation. After tracing the historical development of the concept of due process, Kasper—a noted scholar as well as a municipal judge—presents a host of noteworthy and telling case studies that illuminate the importance of due process and impartial justice, while also showing how these foundational principles can be disturbingly denied in practice. Well-written and instructive, Impartial Justice is a great place to learn about these core principles, and, equally important, what it takes to secure them in the real world.
This is an exceedingly timely book given high profile cases such as the Newtown and Aurora shootings, Guantanamo habeus corpus petitions, and Wall Street financial corruption. In the United States, all have a right to fair judicial proceedings no matter the rage and vitriol of the public or the press. Kasper's compelling examples and argument remind us why fair judicial proceedings are as crucial to our constitutional democracy today as they were at the American Founding.