Wednesday, May 09, 2007

People v. Reyes (Cal. Ct. App. - May 9, 2007)

On the merits, I initially agreed with the majority opinion by Justice Woods in this case. Which involves an extremely disturbing rape. As well as an example of both the impact of a rape on the victim and why there is sometimes a delay in reporting the crime to authorities.

At the end of the opinion, I was more than happy that the guy got spanked for 47 years in prison. Entirely right. I'd have given him more if I could.

But, notwithstanding that sentiment, I think that Justice Johnson is right in dissent. Defendant -- entirely appropriately -- got the upper term, pre-Cunningham. Yes, as Justice Woods mentions, defendant had priors, and those could potentially have justified the selection of the upper term. But where, as here, it's crystal clear from the record that the trial court selected the upper term was because of the large violence and other things -- not the defendant's (relatively scant) prior record -- Justice Johnson persuades me that you can't affirm just because the defendant had priors. You've gotta remand.

Mind you, on remand, I'm sure that Reyes will still get 47 years. But the process is important. You can't short circuit it just because you want -- as I do -- Reyes to spend the rest of his life in prison. That'll happen. It just has to happen in the right, and meaningful, way.