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Thursday, March 01, 2007


Supreme Court denies Writ of Habeas Corpus and Constitutional rights.

Mathew Musladin was denied the petition of habeas corpus by the Supreme Court earlier this month. He was convicted for the murder of Tom Struder in the case of Carey v. Musladin. Musladin thought he was denied a fair trial because family members of Struder wore buttons bearing the victims picture. He had asked the judge to have the family remove their buttons, but the judge would not comply. According to the article (link attached); One could argue, on the one hand , that when jurors observe the grief and solidarity of a victim's family members- evident in the buttons they wear- each day of the trial, the jurors are likely to feel obligated to do something to acknowledge and ameliorate the grief (Colb, 1).

The Supreme Court stood by the judge. It felt that the actions of the family were not within the control of the court system. The only way to effectively petition the court for writ of habeas corpus is to prove state action. The state action doctrine says that a person must be acting on behalf of the government to compel bias towards a defendant. As the families were not under the employ of the state, their actions did not violate Musladin's constitutional rights. This distinction, however, should not carry much force in the context of a trial... A judge controls a courtroom, so once a defendant has specifically asked the judge to order that some display be stopped, the judge's refusal to grant the defendant's request qualifies as state action (Colb, 2).

The Supreme Court failed to protect Mathew Musladin's Constitutional rights. It could be argued that his right to due process of law was violated under the fourteenth and possibly fifth amendments. One may not speak out of turn in court, as this could lead to a contempt charge. The same follows for the actions and attire of the courtroom audience. The Judge could have made the family remove the buttons. Once the judge opts to act in any way which effects the court, the state has intervened. State intervention is almost implied when a person stands trial. If a person such as Musladin must face punishment by the state, the state must have the responsibility to make sure that punishment is meted appropriately.

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