Tuesday, May 19, 2009

People v. Burgener (Cal. Supreme Ct. - May 7, 2009)

Tell me it makes sense to keep pushing this one.

This is already the third time the case has been back up to the California Supreme Court, not to mention the time in the California Court of Appeal. Justice Baxters says this appeal "may not be the last," but I can add to that: It definitely won't be the last.

It's a death penalty case. The conviction was almost three decades ago, back in 1981. The California Supreme Court has reversed and remanded twice previously, and this time makes Number Three (unanimously). Which will only give yet another appeal to the California Supreme Court after the present remand has concluded. If not multiple appeals, depending on what transpires below.

None of this even mentions the state habeas petitions, the federal habeas petition(s), and all the other stuff that you totally know will come in the future with any reimposed death sentence.

I'm telling you this right now: Michael Burgener will die in prison, but it won't be from an antiseptic needle in the arm. At this point, it'll be 40+ years after the conviction before there'd actually be an execution. And the justice of such a penalty -- though understandable in all its individual components -- seems far from clear.

Burgener shot and killed a 7-11 clerk an emptied the cash register of $50. He's not a nice man. He deserves to live the remainder of his life behind bars, and that's what will happen. Why -- at this point -- we're spending the millions and millions of dollars I'm sure is being spent to keep this one going is beyond me.

I know the counterarguments. They're not frivolous. I appreciate them. I truly do. But this one, in my view, you let go.

Throw away the key, declare victory, and be done with it.