Brett Stuff
Judging the Judges
Term Year: 2018

Russell Bucklew, Petitioner v. Anne L. Precythe, Director, Missouri Department of Corrections, et al.

Summary Analysis

DATE: 2019-04-01
DOCKET: 17-8151
NAME: Russell Bucklew, Petitioner v. Anne L. Precythe, Director, Missouri Department of Corrections, et al.

   AUTHOR: Gorsuch
   JOINING: Roberts, Thomas, Alito, Kavanaugh
   GOOD: Yes

OPINION: Concurring
   AUTHOR: Thomas
   JOINING: None
   GOOD: No

OPINION: Concurring
   AUTHOR: Kavanaugh
   JOINING: None
   GOOD: No

OPINION: Dissenting
   AUTHOR: Breyer
   JOINING: Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Kagan
   GOOD: No

OPINION: Dissenting
   AUTHOR: Sotomayor
   JOINING: None
   GOOD: No

Case Commentary

Can a punishment be Cruel and Unusual for one person and not the next?

Personally, I find the question retarded. But we give retards special treatment in the Legal System. So, why not give those with special medical needs special treatment while executing them, as well?

In short, Mr Bucklew believes Lethal Injection will be particularly painful for him. And as such, asks for an exception to be made.

First, I don't believe him.

Second, I don't believe in exceptions.

Case Dismissed!

Maybe I was in a morbid mood, but I liked reading The Court's Opinion.

In theory, Mr Bucklew did all sorts of nasty stuff. Killing. Raping. He even escaped from jail and attacked his Mother In-Law (or someone with a similar relationship to him as that) with a hammer.

Good Times!

A person could write a book.

Now, as always (and even when the disclaimer is not there explicitly, it's there implicitly), I'm a bit of a Legal Moron. And thus, I should get special treatment as you read these pages. And/or one should realize that I probably don't know what I am saying. This is not a Legal Discussion. And if you really care about the case from a Legal Perspective, you'd best be served by going elsewhere.

After all, I'm about to define two legal terms, because I didn't know what they meant 24-Hours ago.

Facial: means on the face (or so I presume); but as concerns this case, it means something is always Unconstitutional.

As Applied: means we are talking about a Special Case and it is only this application which may be Unconstitutional.

Most folks in America are familiar with the phrase Cruel and Unusual Punishment. The Constitution forbids it.

But what exactly is forbidden?

As a working definition, I like the prohibition against adding gratuitous 'terror, pain, or disgrace' to a punishment.

It doesn't mean the absence of pain.

The question before the court concerns whether we care about whether a mode of execution may be more painful to one person than the next.

Eh, I don't care.

Also, we are talking about somewhere in the range of 0-240 Seconds of Pain. It's not a lot. Also, keep in mind, the subject will be sedated at this point. And per the arguments in this case, it is the sedative itself that is believed to be the agent of pain.
So, um, like, as he stops feeling stuff, he won't be able to control his breathing, and like, as he stops breathing, he'll probably feel like he's choking to death for however long the sedative gets in the way of his breathing but not feeling... of course, that won't matter once he's unconscious.
Yeah, sure. It might be as long as four minutes if one believes the outside figures. But most accounts indicate consciousness will be lost at under thirty seconds, which is less than how long the typical person can hold their breath.
But, dude, how can you be so uncaring? He'll be busy dying. No doubt scared out of his wits. Therefore, hyperventilating... and more focused on his breathing than he has ever been before in his entire life!
So, he'll be in a state of fear for his life?
Exactly! And it will not be pleasant!
No shit! He'll probably piss himself and crap his pants, as well. But as we are talking about a sedative, I doubt he'll care much.

I have been accused of lacking a certain degree of empathy.

Actually, I have a great deal of empathy. And it is easy to put myself in Mr Bucklew shoes.

Personally, I'd much rather kill myself than die by any of the traditional methods of execution. I have a much greater fear of someone else killing me than of dying at my own hands. Not just because I believe suicide will be a highly unlikely event in my life (or should that be death), but because control is important to me.

And thus, if I have the choice of someone else injecting me or injecting myself with some of that New Fangled Fentanyl (that I've been hearing so much about, lately), I'll choose the later.

I could easily go down my list of preferences, but as the number one preference is dying of old age in my sleep after spending all of my money, I feel the need to add that if I am ever found dead, if I have a single penny left to my name, it was not me... or at least, it was not deliberate.

Now, I go into my preferences, because The Court (in Glossip, I believe) has decided that if the condemned wishes to challenge the Method of Execution, they must propose a Counter Method.

OK. Heroin... or like I said, some of that Famously Fantastic Fentanyl.

Truthfully, if the goal is a humane death (and I'm not quite sure why this is the goal), locking someone in a room with all the normal methods of suicide (guns, razors, pills, drugs, and so on and so forth) sounds pretty humane.
'Well, there you are. All the things a person could want in life... or death. Sorry, a little gallows humour, there. Anyhow, you got your knives, your guns... No, you won't get access to those until after we leave. But by golly, I think you've got access to everything a person could ever want to do themselves in with. Heck, there's even a pair of sharp scissors if you want to run around your cell for awhile.'

'But I always wanted to die in a parachuting accident.'

'Say no more...'

Heck. A last request is traditional. And although being dunked in blood and towed behind a boat near The Great Barrier Reef so as to be better eaten alive by sharks is not my dream come true, wouldn't it make for great TV?

Let's see...

What's important out of what remains of my notes?

If given a preferred Method of Execution by the condemned, I'm pretty sure I can fill in the details. After all, I'm a pretty handy guy.

Thus, when The Court (and when I say The Court, I almost always mean the Primary Decision of The Court) holds that a prisoner has to provide all the details, I think they are being too picky.
Yes. Yes. Death by Firing Squad. I understand that part. But it's not that simple. What caliber bullets are we using? Distance? Number of guns? Exploding Rounds or Armor Piercing? And how do we count it all down? From five? Ten? Quietly? Outloud? Or should we maybe drop a hankerchief?
It gets a little ridiculous... unless one is, indeed, proposing that the Condemned gets to decide their own fate?

But then, nobody but me is seriously considering this.

It shows how backwards, unfeeling, and (dare I say) un-empathetic everyone else is. It would appear that I am alone in my righteousness... yet again.

Ironically, in many ways, I view Life Imprisonment as the more Cruel Punishment.

If executed quickly, one dies as they were.

But a lifetime in prison changes one... and hardly ever for the better.

Also, while we are on the subject of Cruel and Unusual Punishment (as that is the subject of this rant and/or Review of a Supreme Court Decision, so call it what you will), I wonder if many would not prefer Five Minutes of Unbelievable Cruel and Excruciating Pain... over the loss of Five Years of Their Life.

That is to say, how many would prefer a swift thwack with a paddle (or several whacks with a paddle) over a fine or imprisonment?

By honouring this Pain Avoidance Fetish, we are likely being more cruel.

I am told (by the Dissent, if I recall correctly, even if I can't recall which Dissent) that the average stay on Death Row is Eighteen Years.

Meh. It's not as long as I would have guessed.

Though, I do believe the Dissent is right (if this is, indeed, part of what the Dissent intended) when it highlighted the opposing factors of Speed & Justice. Pick one or the other. You can't have both.

Finally, this case was about whether there would be a trial (call it an Appellate Proceeding) concerning the issues I have discussed. Is there merit enough to look into this stuff? Or can the matter be dismissed via a Summary Judgement?

In Granting Summary Judgement, tie goes to the Opposition. So, if one side asks for Summary Judgement, the Judge (or Judges) are supposed to assume all the Facts are as the Opposition Claims. And if the case would still go against the Opposition (as a Matter of Law), then Summary Judgement should be granted.

I grant no weight to Mr Bucklew's arguments. And so, I would grant Summary Judgement against him, which is what The Court did... much to the chagrin of the Dissent.

So sorry.

Sucks to be wrong.

Judging the Judges

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But I have this rare condition that causes me to fear death and avoid it at all costs.

I can't even watch Horror Movies.

Worse! It induces me to Obey the Law, lest I get caught...

© copyright 2019 Brett Paufler
A Personal Opinion/Editorial