Friday, February 11, 2005

People v. Long (Cal. Ct. App. - February 10, 2005)

Ouch. Michael Long allegedly punches his girlfriend -- now wife -- in the face and gets charged with corporal injury on a cohabitant. Nine months later, the prosecution offers a deal: plead guilty in return for five year's probation and 120 days in a batterer's treatment program. Not bad, right? But Long tells 'em to stick it. One month later, a new prosecutor comes in, and Long decides he wants to take the offer. But now it's off the table. The new prosecutor's offer: 10 years in prison, no less. Long again says no. Gets convicted and sentenced to 15 years. Appeals claiming prosecutorial vindictiveness. Conviction and sentence affirmed. So Long's got 15 years to think about the probation deal that he far-too-quickly rejected. That's gotta hurt.

Justice Robie gets the case right; there's no impermissible vindictiveness. Still, I'm not too psyched about the randomness of a system in which the difference between probation and 15 years in the clink depends upon the spin of a prosecutorial wheel.

P.S. - There certainly aren't many active lawyers are out there who graduated -- as Long's appointed appellate counsel (William Parks) did -- from the New College of California School of Law. The school has been around for 30 years, and typically less than a dozen of its graduates pass the Bar every year.