Monday, June 01, 2009

People v. Davis (Cal. Supreme Court - June 1, 2009)

The California Supreme Court issued its opinion today in the case against Richard Davis, who was the person who kidnapped and killed 12-year old Polly Klass. It's a case familiar to anyone who was cognizant of current events in the early 90s -- particularly in California, and especially parents. Your little girl is having a slumber party with her friends and an intruder who slips into your home kidnaps and eventually kills her. Chilling.

It doesn't take much to figure out what the California Supreme Court's going to do in this one once the resulting death sentence comes up on automatic review. This is an extremely high profile case. The possibility of being recalled -- or defeated for reelection -- is a distinct possibility if you vote to reverse. So I hope it comes as no surprise to anyone that the California Supreme Court unanimously affirms the conviction and death sentence.

And if doing so requires the court to hold (as it does here) that the public safety exception to Miranda applies and allows the police to continue to question a suspect -- and use the resulting testimony against him at trial -- even after he's invoked his right to counsel, so be it. Because even though nine full weeks have gone by after the kidnapping, I'm sure the questioning was motivated not to obtain evidence against the suspect, but due to the concern for Polly Klass's safety and the belief that she might be alive and in jeopardy. Yep, that's why the police went back in and questioned Davis after he invoked -- and why they waited four full days to do so. Not to obtain evidence, but because they were desperately concerned for the immediate safety of Klass. Yep. I'm certain of it.