Tuesday, June 09, 2009

People v. Haller (Cal. Ct. App. - June 9, 2009)

It's one thing to say that a sentence of 78 years to life (for which the defendant will be eligible for parole, at the earliest, when he's 119) isn't "cruel and unusual" for a defendant who left threatening messages for his ex-wife and then drunkenly showed up at her house with a knife, only to be promptly shot in the groin by her shotgun-toting husband. It's another thing to say that he totally got what he deserved.

Justice Sims repeatedly says the latter. (E.g.: "[Defendant] made [his ex-wife's] life (and her husband's life) a living hell and deserves the sentence he received.")

I do gotta say that it somewhat bothers me -- or at least bothers me more than it appears to bother Justice Sims -- that this dude receives a longer sentence than most premeditated murderers. And I know that Justice Sims is entirely correct that the fact that the guy took a shotgun blast to the groin -- which resulted in the loss of one of his favorite friends -- doesn't technically matter for sentencing purposes. Still. There's something there. In the end, I think I have a slightly different view than Justice Sims on this guy being let out of prison when he's, say, 80 years old.

I'm not saying that Justice Sims is wrong and I'm right. And I totally get his disposition on the merits, since it takes a fair piece for a sentence to be unconstitutional. Nonetheless, I think that had I written the opinion, I might not have been as over the top about Haller fully deserving to be 119 before being released.

Maybe I'm too much of a softie in that regard. Could easily be.