Tuesday, December 04, 2012

In Re Richards (Cal. Supreme Ct. - Dec. 3, 2012)

Read the first five pages of this opinion.  See if you think the defendant is guilty of murder.

Then read the next six pages.  Discussing the evidence that came out during the next two decades.  Do you think there's an innocent man in prison, erroneously convicted of murdering his wife?

The case was far from open-and-shut even at the outset.  It took four trials (and two hung juries) before the defendant was finally convicted.  Whether a jury would convict again -- based upon the existing evidence -- is even less likely than a conviction was the first four times.

But, in a 4-3 opinion, the California Supreme Court concludes that the trial court erred by granting the defendant a new trial.  With Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye (again) providing the dispositive fourth vote.  Justice Chin -- who's far from "liberal" on criminal matters -- joins the dissent.

Justice is either profoundly served, or profoundly disserved, here.  Which do you think prevailed?