Thursday, May 21, 2009

People v. Cadogan (Cal. Ct. App. - May 20, 2009)

So I'm reading this case, and my eyes flitter to the line that contains the name of counsel for the defendant. I notice that it's another case where the appellate counsel is appointed by the court -- nothing unusual there -- and I read the name: Marcia R. Clark.

Wait a minute. You mean that Marcia R. Clark? (Who looks like this now, not this.) Yep, the one and only. No longer prosecuting O.J., or writing books, but instead doing court-appointed appellate work.

So that's a big lifestyle change, eh? Which obviously is what it is. But what I further thought was: How long has she been doing it, and how good is she? Since obviously prosecuting high-profile cases at trial is quite a piece different than doing appointed appellate work.

So I checked it out. This is only her third case in which she's had a published opinion, but she's had a ton of unpublished decisions. Her first appellate case (to which, again, she was appointed, as she was in most of 'em) was back in 2006. So she's been doing this for roughly three years. And, in that time, she's had 52 cases in the Court of Appeal.

So that answers the first question. She's apparently doing this a lot, and had been doing so for a while. What about the second question? What's her track record?

She's won three cases, in whole or in part, in which the Attorney General has admitted that the defendant was entitled to relief. So at least she can win when the other side rolls over. She's also obtained minor relief in five of the cases; i.e., getting one of four counts dismissed, getting an enhancement dismissed and so cutting a year off her client's 28-year sentence, etec. Today's case is one of those: Like the others, she largely loses, but she's at least able to win on a particular issue that cuts off 3 years from her client's 37-year sentence. So that's the result in five cases; which, parenthetically, is smaller than the number of cases in which she filed a Wende brief (basically, "Here are the facts: I don't see anything even arguable, but you decide") and lost.

So what about the rest of the cases? Of the 52 cases in the Court of Appeal, how many wins?


Back in 2007, she got a reversal in a case where a guy had his car towed from Scripps Clinic down here in San Diego, went into the reception area to figure out what happened ("Dude, where's my car?), got pissed off, and ended up throwing a glass flowerpot near the receptionist. Remanded for a new trial on the ground the court should have given a lesser-included offense instruction.

So if you've got a flowerpot case, Marcia Clark's apparently the attorney of choice. Bloody glove? Not so much.

So welcome back, Marcia. I probably should have noticed your name in one of the other couple of cases, but missed it. Regardless: Glad to see you're in the California Court of Appeal in addition to on E.T. Less glamor and fun, but at least the possibility -- however theoretical -- of victory.