An opinion should read like the decision-maker wrote it or at least reviewed it. But cut-and-paste thinking can be subtle or piecemeal, sometimes requiring sophisticated tools to lift the fingerprints of thought, such as citation studies, plagiarism detection software and computational linguistics.1 Most obviously, it occurs when judges fail to find their own facts, adopt without qualm the conclusions of the prosecutor, and conduct deliberations behind an ex parte curtain.

The presumption of innocence, the crucible of cross-examination, the right to present a defense are worthless when the final decision is dictated by the grey eminence of the state and acquiesced by the judge. Indeed, it is judicial nullification that tears down walls of constitutional credibility.

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