Wednesday, May 22, 2013

People v. Pizarro (Cal. Ct. App. - May 21, 2013)

I am exhausted.

Not over the stuff you might think.  Though that might assuredly play a part.

Rather, I am spent -- spent, I tell you -- after reading this opinion by Justice Kane.

There is some interesting stuff in the opinion about juror misconduct.  Which is what ultimately gets the defendant, Michael Pizarro, a new trial in the first-degree muder of his 13-year old half-sister.  A trial that will be required notwithstanding the fact that the murder was nearly a quarter-century ago and Pizarro has already been unanimously convicted for this offense twice.

No one is happy out this result.  Not me.  Not Justice Kane.  No one.

But that's what happens when a juror goes on the Internet and reads the published decision by the Court of Appeal in the case that's the exact one the juror's deciding on remand.

Cannot do that.  Improper.  Likely criminal.  Reversible error.

So for any jurors who may be reading the California Appellate Report while you are still a juror:  Stop now.  Turn off the computer.  You can come back and read all you want after you are discharged from service.  Do everyone -- everyone -- that favor.

But the majority of Justice Kane's opinion actually concerns a different issue.  DNA evidence.  That is the part that has literally exhausted me.

It is not just that the topic is complicated.  As well as, commendably, addressed at intellectual depth in the opinion.  All that's tiring, for sure.

It's also pure volume.  The opinion spans over 115 pages.  In, again, incredible depth.

Yikes.  You just don't see that usually in the Court of Appeal.

For me, it felt less like reading an opinion than reading a dissertation.  A science dissertation, no less.

I learned a lot.  A ton.  But I'm exhausted.  Spent.  Done.

So go ahead and read this one if you want to learn a lot about DNA evidence.  Which is, admiringly, a fascinating as well as critical field.

But I warn you ahead of time.  It's going to take you forever.  As it did me.

And, at the end, you're going to need a nap.