Wednesday, March 03, 2010

People v. Nitschmann (Cal. Ct. App. - March 3, 2010)

Until today, I hadn't thought about the fact that the Court of Appeal might well have repeated, non-remand-based exposure to a particular defendant. But Justice Yegan reminds me that in California, the same division may indeed see appeals from a particular defendant on different charges over time. Morever, if the defendant is memorable -- say, has a unique name, like "Ralph Helmut Nitschmann" -- memory (or a reminder in the briefs) might serve them well.

"Fifteen years ago we said: 'Ralph Helmut Nitschmann has lead a life of crime.' (People v. Nitschmann (1995) 35 Cal.App.4th 677, 679.) Nothing has changed except the victim's name . . ."

Nitschmann must have had a pretty good sense that this was the way things were going to come out immediately once he saw the panel. His panel this time consisted of Justices Yegan, Gilbert, and Coffee. Guess who was on the panel 15 years ago? Two of the three same people: Justices Yegan and Gilbert. With the same person -- Justice Yegan -- writing the opinion in both cases. Both of which affirmed and both of which started out by referring to Nitschmann by name and in a way that was not especially positive.

Sometimes you can predict the future pretty well. This was one of those times.