High Court Turns Rightward

  • Share
  • Read Later
WASHINGTON: It's going to be tougher for criminals to get off on technicalities. In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled yesterday that illegally gained evidence may still be considered in a parole hearing. Some lawyers are questioning the Court's wisdom in the ruling since it concedes that the same evidence would be considered inadmissible in a criminal trial. "Why should evidence that was unacceptable in a trial be acceptable for a parole revocation?" asked TIME legal correspondent Adam Cohen. "It's the same principle. The person's freedom still hinges on it." But Clarence Thomas, who wrote the majority opinion, felt that burdening "the traditionally flexible, administrative nature of parole revocation hearings" with all the minutiae of criminal proceedings would hinder justice rather than serve it.

A similar commonsense standard seemed to be the factor in another 5-4 ruling by the same Justices: that a for the sexual misconduct of its teachers if the school doesn't know about it. Make sense? There's a downside. The decision leaves few options in the courts for the victims of harassment. "This makes it much more difficult to sue," says Cohen. "Without being able to hold the employer responsible, victims aren't likely to recover much in the way of damages -- especially from a teacher."