Tuesday, February 07, 2012

People v. Latham (Cal. Ct. App. - Feb. 7, 2012)

I know that everyone wants to read the Ninth Circuit's gay marriage decision that came down today.  I know that because of the number of phone calls I've received and the fact that the Ninth Circuit's website has been swamped for the last couple of hours.

But I'll let the opinions in Perry speak for themselves.  They'll get a lot of commentary (and rightly so) even without me.

Meanwhile, if you want a break from the lofty constitutional discourse -- or simply the 128 pages of text -- in Perry, here's an opinion from the California Court of Appeal today that's worth reading.

Sure, sometimes you have evil parents who maliciously kill their infant children and get convicted of murder.  Rightly so.  But what you don't usually see is an opinion in which two parents are convicted of murder of a 17-year old child who died from diabetes.  Seventeen year olds are usually capable of largely caring for themselves (as well as their diabetes), and it's a rare case in which parents are charged with murder when they haven't smacked the kid around or simply left an infant to rot.  Plus, the evidence of malice here (if any) is very, very slim.  The parents definitely didn't act as I'd wish, and I too would have hoped that they'd have taken their daughter to the hospital several days earlier, but there's basically no evidence that they wanted her to die.

Nonetheless, their sentences are severe:  17 years to life for the father and 15 years to life for the mother.  I've seen gangland killings with lower sentences.

Read Justice Aaron's opinion and see what you think.  I think it's a much closer case than she makes it out to be, but at the same time, I can also read between the lines.  It's a case from Riverside County, and the father had pled guilty to using a minor to transport methamphetamine.  So you might have a sense of why the judge and jury -- who got a look at the defendants -- responded the way they did.