Tuesday, June 05, 2012

People v. Mason (Cal. Ct. App. - June 5, 2012)

I appreciate the fact that appointed counsel have to raise on appeal (and the Court of Appeal has to decide) any nonfrivolous argument in favor of the criminal defendant.  It's a worthwhile rule.

But this opinion begins:  "Defendant Jeffrey Allen Mason was convicted of residential burglary and sentenced to life in prison. On appeal he challenges a $129.75 '[c]riminal justice fee' the court ordered him to pay to the City of Sunnyvale pursuant to Government Code section 29550.1."

Which makes me think:  "Seriously?!  Life in prison and the only thing we're briefing is a $130 fee he's never going to pay anyway?"  A fee that's also totally swamped by the cost of briefing and deciding the issue.

Were one designing a criminal justice system from scratch, it seems to me one might want to create some sort of exception for issues like this.  Ones that might well not be worth the transaction cost to litigate.