Tuesday, October 30, 2007

People v. Stevens (Cal. Ct. App. - Oct. 29, 2007)

I was in DC on Monday, so missed this opinion when it first came out. But it's not one that should be overlooked. There's a great debate between Justice Reardon (who writes the majority opinion) and Justice Ruvolo (who authors the dissent) about whether, in a jury trial, having a uniformed, armed deputy sheriff sitting immediately beside the defendant during his testimony -- and no one else's -- is impermissible. It's obviously okay when there's a history of violence or the like, but is it okay when, as here, there's nothing out of the ordinary that would justify such a practice.

I'll leave you in suspense as to which side wins out, as I want you to read the respective opinions. One of them, I think, is fairly superficial. The other one -- the one I agree with, not surprisingly -- seems far more cogent and persuasive.

See what you think.