Monday, February 7, 2011

More on the Goddess of Justice

After our recent post about images of justice, someone asked whether anyone had challenged courthouses exhibiting statutes of Themis, the goddess of justice, on establishment grounds. He speculated that a challenge would probably fail because Themis is part of our civic religion.

Well, I haven't found a case objecting to a statue of justice (and I agree that it would probably fail), but when I was looking I came across this explanation of a standard of review. It's colorful, but how much does it really help you figure out the standard?

cartoon of statue of justice falling over
Our standard of review for a challenge to the weight of the evidence is as follows. "A new trial should be granted only where the verdict is so contrary to the evidence as to shock one's sense of justice." When "the figure of Justice totters on her pedestal," or when "the jury's verdict, at the time of its rendition, causes the trial judge to lose his breath, temporarily, and causes him to almost fall from the bench, then it is truly shocking to the judicial conscience."
Commonwealth v. Davidson, 860 A.2d 575, 581 (Pa. Super. 2004)(citations omitted).

Graphic: mw, using Microsoft Paint. My attempt to draw at a judge losing his breath and almost falling from the bench failed. You'll have to imagine it.

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