This is yet another of the plethora of cases in which the Governor -- here, Gray Davis -- reversed the recommendation of parole for someone convicted of murder. And you can tell how it's going to come out on appeal merely by reading the first couple of paragraphs of the Ninth Circuit's opinion. In front of a panel, by the way, that includes Chief Judge Kozinski. Who's not exactly a bleeding heart leftie:
"On December 15, 1978, Hayward, with other members of the Vagos motorcycle gang, traveled to the Buccaneer Bar in Sierra Madre, California. There, he confronted a man who, according to conflicting accounts, had either slapped or battered and attempted to rape Hayward’s girlfriend (who would later become Hayward’s wife). The confrontation turned physical and ended after Hayward stabbed the man twelve times, killing him. In 1980, a California jury convicted Hayward of second degree murder, and the court sentenced Hayward to state prison for a term of fifteen years to life.
Hayward has spent the last twenty-seven years in prison. He is now sixty-four years old. He retired from the Vagos motorcycle gang in 1981. In the twenty-seven years Hayward has spent in prison, he has completed substantial vocational training in the fields of plumbing, mechanics, welding, meat cutting, and shoe repair. Hayward obtained a GED in 1981 and has developed typing and computer skills through job assignments in prison. For the last twenty years, Hayward has led prison tours for university students studying criminal justice. He has not had a major disciplinary violation in prison since 1989, and his last minor disciplinary infraction was in 1997."
Even before addressing the merits, the opinion then continues with a legion of factual recitations in the same vein. Which make the intended result pretty darn clear. A result that ends up reversing my former colleague (and all-around great guy) Gary Feess.
So Ronald Hayward gets out of prison. And I think the majority is right that the probability that the sixty-four year old Hayward will stab someone a dozen times in a bar fight upon his release is pretty much nil.