Thursday, March 30, 2006

U.S. v. Mix (9th Cir. - March 30, 2006)

I'm actually somewhat glad that I couldn't find the briefs on this one. Defendant commits a series of violent sexual and physical assaults against his live-in companion between 1998 and 2000. As far as I can tell, the defendant has no prior criminal record. But he's nonetheless sentenced to life in prison.

What justifies such a sentence? Even though the heart of the appeal is defendant's claim that his life sentence is unreasonable and excessive, Judge Alarcon's opinion doesn't contain virtually any concrete deatails about the nature of defendant's offenses. And, as I said, the briefs apparently aren't yet online, so I haven't been able to ascertain what precisely justified the life sentence.

That said, Judge Alarcon's opinion contains two sentences that are both telling and compelling. At least to me. Judge Alarcon notes: "[The victim's] physical injuries . . . were so severe that her examining physician testified that she had never seen so much trauma to a sexual assault victim who had survived. The physician was so distressed by the severity of the victim’s injuries that she had to leave the room to cry and compose herself before she could administer medical treatment." Further, during sentencing, the district court said "that Mr. Mix’s violent acts against women were 'perhaps one of the most brutal, if not the most brutal, set of circumstances that the [district] Court has had the misfortune to preside over.'”

How depressing. Given those sentences, I'm really not sure I even want to learn more. Affirmed.