Monday, April 27, 2015

People v. Smith (Cal. Supreme Ct. - April 27, 2015)

Everything about this is depressing.

Defendant has an incredibly sad -- indeed, at times, monstrous -- childhood.  You can see how a kid raised in that environment might well go bad.

But the murder he commits is also incredibly heinous.  Which is why there's an entirely appropriate special circumstance of torture.

The California Supreme Court correctly reverses the death sentence.  Unanimously.

But given the defendant's conduct in prison, particularly alongside the circumstances of the murder, I think there's more than a decent chance that he'll get resentenced to death on remand.

But even the first round took 17 years.  A round that doesn't include any state or federal habeas proceedings.

Is it really worth it to try again?  Just to have him die in prison long before the sentence gets carried out?

The murder was a terrible one.  Defendant is a guy a large majority of people would want to kill.

But the practical reality is that it ain't gonna happen.