Friday, September 14, 2018

In re Sims (Cal. Ct. App. - Sept. 14, 2018)

There are lots of opinions that arise out of convictions for murder.  There aren't many opinions that arise out of convictions against an attorney for murder.

This is one of the latter.

It's indeed a sad tale.  I'll recount just some of the facts:

"Defendant and petitioner Karen Sims, a former attorney with serious mental illness of longstanding, was convicted of murdering her husband Henry Sims in 2006 and was sentenced to prison for a term of 50 years to life. . . .

Defendant has a history of mental illness that includes at least one prior hospitalization lasting two years and had manifested itself in violent knife assaults against her husband and her daughter while the family lived in Colorado. After being released from an extended psychiatric hospitalization in Colorado, the family moved to California where defendant practiced immigration law.

In 2005, when defendant’s daughter was home from medical school for the summer, defendant was behaving combatively and secretively, refusing to take her medication. She was suspicious of conspiracies, convinced that she was God’s daughter fighting demons, or the daughter of an alien fighting some sort of intergalactic war on earth. She accused her husband of adultery, occult practices, and devil worship. Defendant also accused her husband of carrying on with prostitutes and drugging her at night. She also behaved erratically with her office staff and clients, and sometimes missed court appearances.

Things came to a head in September 2005, when there was an incident at Lake Evans in Riverside. After the incident, defendant and her husband drove to Blythe, where defendant shot her husband several times, killing him. . . .

Defendant made bizarre statements during the hearing on her request to represent herself and during trial. [Footnote: "The record is replete with bizarre statements by defendant. The fact we limit the number of her delusional statements here is not intended as a comment on the significance or relevance of other statements."] In her opening statement, she talked about the Greek word for devil, the biblical story of Jezebel, and described her 25 years of marriage as “very colorful” and “a lot of joy.” She denied killing her husband, asserted that he was alive when the coroner’s photographs were taken, and proposed he was beaten and murdered by someone else while defendant was in custody."

A sad tale indeed.