Friday, February 17, 2006

People v. Platz (Cal. Ct. App. - Feb. 15, 2006)

I'm certain that the murder of a nine-year old child can evoke strong emotions in even the most jaded jurist, and don't at all mind it when opinions are written from the heart.

Nonetheless, with all due respect to Justice Raye, my strong take is that this opinion is overly melodramatic and a bit over the top. To get a sense of what I mean, here's the first paragraph:

"Defendant Lisa Ann Platz will spend the rest of her life in prison for the death of her nine-year-old daughter. She alone is criminally liable, although many others set in motion or contributed to the events that led to her daughter’s tragic death. Those participants and their decisions, however, are not before us. [Justice Raye is primarily referring to the fact that another person responsible for the child's death killed himself in prison.] We must affirm the jury’s verdict convicting Lisa of murder [] and finding true the special circumstance that the murder occurred during the commission of a kidnapping [] because her legal challenges are without merit and we cannot say any of the evidentiary or prosecutorial errors resulted in a miscarriage of justice. If there was a miscarriage of justice in this case, it preceded the kidnapping and death of the child and therefore is not one we have the ability to review or to rectify."

Read the remainder of the opinion to see if you agree with my assessment. Sorry, Justice Raye. I don't think this is your best work.