Monday, February 04, 2013

People v. Whalen (Cal. Supreme Ct. - Feb. 4, 2013)

Read Justice Liu's concurring opinion in this one.  He's absolutely right.  The trial court clearly treated pro-death penalty jurors differently than anti-death penalty jurors, and tried valiently to rehabilitate the former while kicking off the latter.  What transpired here is really striking.

None of which particularly helps the appellant, Daniel Whalen.  Who wants the state to kill him and who will (likely) get his wish.  Everyone on the Court agrees that his death sentence gets affirmed.  Despite the conduct of the trial court below.

But it's still telling to look at what the trial court did.  The next time you wonder whether some judges don't put a "thumb on the scale" even in high-profile criminal cases, remember this one.

P.S. - The majority opinion's worth a read as well.  If only to see (1) what a long criminal history Mr. Whalen had, and how incredibly destructive drug addiction is for everyone involved (Whalen, the sex-for-drug trading Michelle Joe, etc.), and (2) how utterly senseless it was for Whalen to kill the victim -- Sherman Robbins -- who was an elderly diabetic and a veritable modern-day Mother Theresa, who welcomed "street people" into his home for food, a bath or rest.  Leading to his death.