Neil Gorsuch on Crime



Police can't knock-and-talk if you post No-Trespassing signs

Ordinarily a police officer has an implied license to approach a home, knock on the front door, and ask to speak with the occupants. Carloss, however, claims that "No Trespassing" signs posted around the house revoked that implied license. The court concluded, to the contrary, that the officers did not exceed the implied license to knock on the front door.

Gorsuch, dissenting, said police can "knock and talk" only with the homeowner's consent, or a warrant, [and Carloss' officers had either]. Officers sometimes use knock and talks in ways that test the boundaries of the consent on which they depend. Carloss curtilage--that area "immediately surrounding the home"--is protected by the Fourth Amendment much like the home itself. So not only do officers need a warrant or consent to enter a home, they also need one of those things to reach the home's front door in the first place. Carloss removed the license to enter the curtilage by the numerous "No Trespassing" signs.

Source: ABC News on SCOTUS confirmation hearings , Jan 31, 2017

Police tasers aren't excessive force, even if person killed

In 2013, the 10th Circuit threw out a lawsuit against the city of Lafayette, Colorado, and its police. The parents of Ryan Wilson, a 22-year-old who died after being stunned with a Taser as he ran from officers, brought the suit. Gorsuch ruled that an officer didn't use excessive force when he hit Wilson in the head with the stun gun--and killed him--in 2006. The court upheld a District Court's decision that the officer had qualified immunity. "We sympathize with the Wilsons over their terrible loss," Gorsuch wrote. "Given the direction we have from the Supreme Court and this court's precedent, and in light of the state of the law as of 2006, we cannot say the district court erred in its decision to grant qualified immunity." The Supreme Court, he said, "has directed the lower federal courts to apply qualified immunity broadly" to protect all officers except "the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law."
Source: Newsweek magazine on SCOTUS confirmation hearings , Jan 27, 2017

Very strict reading of relief criteria for death penalty

Gorsuch has not been a friendly vote for death penalty petitioners pursuing relief from their sentences through federal habeas. This makes plenty of sense in light of Gorsuch's commitment to reading statutes according to their plain text. During the 1990s, Congress passed a statute called the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act that--true to its name--was intended to limit federal habeas in order to make the death penalty easier to carry out. Strict readers of AEDPA are unlikely to find many cases in which a petitioner qualifies for relief. This is particularly true in the courts of appeals, where many of the death penalty habeas cases are uncontroversial--or at least not nearly as close as the cases that make their way to the Supreme Court. Whatever the source of the position, however, it is clear that Gorsuch's position in death penalty cases is likely to be quite close to Scalia's, and very unlikely to make the court any more solicitous of the claims of capital defendants.
Source: ScotusBlog.com on SCOTUS confirmation hearings , Jan 13, 2017

Jurors have ability to impartially apply death penalty

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals split 2-1 to uphold the Oklahoma death sentence of Scott Eizember, who went on a deadly crime spree in 2003.

Eizember was sentenced to be executed for the bludgeoning death of A.J. Cantrell, 76, and to 150 years in prison in the shotgun slaying of Patsy Cantrell, 70, at their Depew home. "Scott Eizember left a Tulsa jail intent on settling a score," Judge Neil Gorsuch of the Denver-based appeals court wrote in a 34-page decision. "He was upset with his ex-girlfriend, Kathy Biggs, because she had tipped off authorities about his violation of a protective order." Eizember had broken into the Cantrells' home to watch and wait for his ex-girlfriend to return to her mother's house across the street.

One judge on a three-judge panel said the death sentence should be overturned. In a 30-page dissenting opinion, the Chief Judge wrote that one juror's views in favor of the death penalty raise doubts about her ability to be fair and impartial.

Source: The Oklahoman on death penalty appeal , Sep 15, 2015

Other Justices on Crime: Neil Gorsuch on other issues:
Samuel Alito(since 2006)
Amy Coney Barrett(since 2020)
Stephen Breyer(since 1994)
Neil Gorsuch(since 2017)
Ketanji Brown Jackson(nominated 2022)
Elena Kagan(since 2010)
Brett Kavanaugh(since 2018)
John Roberts(since 2005)
Sonia Sotomayor(since 2009)
Clarence Thomas(since 1991)

Former Justices:
Merrick Garland(nominated 2016)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg(1993-2020)
Anthony Kennedy(1988-2018)
Antonin Scalia(1986-2016)
John Paul Stevens(1975-2010)
David Souter(1990-2009)
Sandra Day O'Connor(1981-2006)
William Rehnquist(1975-2005)

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Page last updated: Mar 21, 2022