Friday, June 24, 2011

People v. Moore (Cal. Supreme Court - June 23, 2011)

How do you stay on death row for 37 years in California?  Like this.

Remember:  It's not even over yet.  He's still got state habeas petitions to file.  Then first (and potentially successive) federal habeas petitions.

Murders were committed in 1977.  The guy's going to die a natural death in California.  After we spend how many millions of dollars?

Not good.  On any level.

There's also an interesting attorney-related wrinkle I've never seen before, and that's also not mentioned anywhere in the Court's opinion.

Oral argument in the California Supreme Court is initially in December 2008.  The California Supreme Court appoints attorney Cynthia Thomas to represent Moore on appeal (he wants to represent himself, but we don't do that), and she does the oral argument.

One problem.  Ms. Thomas was suspended from the practice of law in 2007 and ordered to take the MPRE.  She didn't do so.  So, shortly before oral argument, was again suspended from the practice of law.

In short, a non-attorney argued a death penalty case in the California Supreme Court.


Once she told the Court this (about a month after the argument), the Court appointed a new attorney, there was a new round of briefs, etc.  And Ms. Thomas hasn't practiced law since then.

And remember, this wasn't a retained attorney.  This was someone appointed by the Court.

Nothing about this case exactly gives one confidence in how the death penalty gets applied, eh?