Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor could sometimes rule with the top court’s conservatives on questions of criminal justice, reports the Wall Street Journal based on an examination of her record. The high court’s five conservatives in January held that it was acceptable for prosecutors to use evidence seized by police who mistakenly thought they had a warrant to arrest a suspect. Justice David Souter dissented with other liberals on the court; Sotomayor ruled in favor of the police in a similar case 10 years ago.
New York criminal-defense lawyers say she is surprisingly tough on crime for a Democratic-backed appointee — a likely byproduct of her tenure as a prosecutor. “The reputation of Sotomayor was that sentencing was not an easy ride,” says Gerald Shargel, a criminal-defense attorney. Sotomayor tends to see relatively few grounds to overturn criminal convictions, says John Siffert, a New York attorney who taught an appellate advocacy class with the judge at New York University School of Law from 1996 to 2006. On the trial bench, he says, “she was not viewed as a pro-defense judge.”