(The Return of) Ignatz, by Sam Heldman

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

short items
(1) Read DeLong on obvious things.

(2) My old friend Richie Stearns, who is the Picasso of old-time banjo (in that he can play beautifully in the traditional ways, and can also break the traditional patterns brilliantly), has a nice solo album out; it consists of some great banjo playing, and some guitar-accompanied songs that he has written. Check out streaming audio of the songs and tunes at this site.

(3) If anyone is interested in how the Supreme Court prediction thingy is going, here's an update. The Court has disposed of a little more than a third of the Term's argued (or to-be-argued) cases, 27 in all. Two have been dismissed without a decision. Of the remaining 25, I've gotten 20 correct according to my calculations, which is a bit better than both the computer (18 correct) and the human expert panels (17 correct) at Washington University's fascinating project. I fully recognize the element of luck in this, and also recognize that I'm not playing exactly the same game as they are (they're trying to predict Justices' votes, while I'm not). Ted at Supreme Court Blog is a bit behind, but definitely still in the game.

(4) The Supreme Court's decisions this morning in the 3 strikes cases are not exactly the end of the line on this issue. In the Ewing case, the Court did decide on the merits that a sentence of 25 to life for a $1200 theft was constitutionally allowable. But in the Andrade case, the Court did not really uphold the constitutionality of a 50-to-life sentence for a more piddly crime; the Court instead held only that it was not so obviously unconstitutional as to allow federal habeas corpus relief under the stringent rules applicable to such cases. This practically begs litigants to keep pressing the question, on direct review, when their sentences are stricter than Ewing's.

posted by sam 1:56 PM 0 comments


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