WASHINGTON -- A calculator thief did not deserve the long prison sentence given to him by a Texas judge, the Supreme Court said yesterday. But the justices ruled against the man anyway.
The court could have used Michael Haley's case to add a new way for habitual offenders to appeal their sentences in federal court. Instead, the justices said they would address that issue later.
Haley was sentenced to more than 16 years in prison for stealing a calculator from a
''The unending search for symmetry in the law can cause judges to forget about justice. This should be a simple case," wrote Justice John Paul Stevens, joined by Anthony M. Kennedy and David H. Souter. Souter was back on the high court bench following an attack while jogging in Washington last weekend. He had no visible bandages, but above his robe, his neck appeared to be bruised. Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said the justice, a member of the court since 1990, would not discuss the attack or his injuries.
The Haley case touched on issues addressed by the court last year, in ruling that repeat offenders may be locked up for long periods for relatively minor crimes. The court decided then, in a test of California's three-strikes law, that a term of 50 years to life was not out of bounds for a thief who shoplifted videotapes from
In other action yesterday, the high court:
Refused to consider an appeal from two musicians who contend they were cheated by rocker Ozzy Osbourne. Bassist Robert Daisley and drummer Lee Kerslake sued in 1998, seeking royalties for their work on the Osbourne albums ''Blizzard of Ozz" and ''Diary of a Madman."
Refused to consider whether a Montana man's foul language to a law enforcement officer was free speech protected by the Constitution. Malachi Robinson was fined $50 for calling a deputy a ''[expletive] pig."