Friday, February 04, 2005

People v. Baker (Cal. Ct. App. - February 2, 2005)

Here's a case that could easily have been rendered in 1855 rather than 2005. It's entirely about what the proper amount of restitution is for cattle rustling. Does the court calculate merely the value of the cows themselves, or does it also include the value of the calves that were likely born from these cows during the period in which the cows were stolen?

I'll leave you in suspense about the result reached by Justice Wiseman.

Just when you think that California appellate law has radically changed over the past 150 years. . .

LATER NOTE: Actually, after I posted, I had an additional thought. So I'll leave the original but add a subsequent comment. I actually think that the case may well have been decided differently were one to utilize 21st century economic principles rather than treating the case as if it were still 1855. For example, under any modern economic theory, the monetary value of a cow should already include the present discounted value of any anticipated calves, so adding a value of the calves would entail double-counting. Plus, in any era, isn't it a crock that Justice Wiseman apparently holds (in the last paragraph of Section I) that -- in any case (not merely those involving cows) -- a court can order restitution for the full value of the stolen property even if that property is recovered and returned to the owner? Why should the owner get paid twice?