Thursday, March 12, 2009

People v. Garcia (Cal. Ct. App. - March 12, 2009)

Do I think that Mario Garcia is guilty of murdering Christie Wilson? Yeah. Probably. (Though the evidence is far, far from clear on this point. Indeed, there's not even a body, and the evidence of Christie's death is a lot less than in many no-body cases.) Do I think that reversal of his conviction is required on the basis of any of the alleged errors in the trial court? Maybe not. Though the failure to instruct on possible third party culpability -- there's at least a possibility that Wilson's volitile no-good boyfriend, Daniel Borlando, might have committed the crime -- worries me a bit.

That said, today's 61-page opinion by Justice Cantil-Sakauye seems one-sided and relentlessly results-oriented to me. I think that a number of the issues raised by Garcia are at least close ones, and yet the opinion addresses them almost always in a perfunctory fashion -- in an opinion that almost reads like a brief for the prosecution. Something that'd I would not have been surprised to see from Tani back when she was a D.A. in Sacramento, but in the present context, from a judge, I expect a little more. Particularly when 59 years to life is on the line.

I'm not saying the result is wrong. But I think a little more neutral thought and analysis would definitely help.