Supreme Court's ruling makes little sense
Published 5:17 am Monday, January 19, 2004
In this country -- and especially in a state like Alabama, where common sense is an ingrained part of our heritage and culture -- we expect justice to be administered with both wisdom and mercy. But a ruling by the Alabama State Supreme Court Thursday was apparently made with neither of those virtues in mind.
There's little other way to explain the court's going with a more lenient sentence for Ethan E. Dorsey, a man who brutally shot three people -- one a 13-year-old boy -- during the course of a hold-up in Conecuh County seven years ago. The court's ruling defies the "common sense" approach to the rule of law Alabamians have rightfully taken pride in over the years, and also robs the victims' families of a justice they believed was theirs.
The case in question stems from Dorsey's 1998 conviction for the murders of 13-year-old Timothy Bryan Crane, Richard Cary and Scott Williams during the robbery of a Conecuh County convenience store in 1996.
A jury gave Dorsey the death penalty for Crane's murder, and life in prison for killing Cary and Williams.
But in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court last week threw out Dorsey's death sentence, replacing it with one of life in prison, which includes an eventual shot at parole. The court ruled that the Conecuh jurors who heard Dorsey's case effectively acquitted him of capital murder -- a death penalty offense -- when they also found him guilty of felony murder in the same case.
That's what five of the court's justice's believed. Four however, didn't agree, feeling that the court should have upheld the death sentence because the jurors made clear their intent to convict Dorsey of capital murder for murdering young Timothy Bryan Crane.
But majority -- and in this case a baffling interpretation of the law -- rules. One of the most frequent complaints about the judiciary is that judges often make decisions that seem to go against the way most of think and believe. This appears to be yet another such case.