Friday, September 30, 2016

People v. Bell (Cal. Ct. App. - Sept. 29, 2016)

Michael Bell committed a horrible crime.  Which the Court of Appeal describes in chilling detail.

He was nine days short of his 15th birthday at the time, and no one actually died, so he's got to have at least the possibility of getting out of prison.  So, after lots of procedural wrangling, he's sentenced to 43 years to life, making him eligible for parole when he's 55.  He appeals, but the Court of Appeal affirms.

On a minor note, one of the downsides of cranking out tons of opinions every year is that they're not all perfect.  Fortunately, you've got plenty of people -- both in and outside of chambers -- to review the thing before it gets published forever in the California Appellate Reports.

So Justice Rubin might want to take a quick look at the following sentence on page 7:

"Bell filed a habeas corpus petition with the trial court contending that his sentence of 54 years to file amounted to cruel and unusual punishment because it was a defector sentence of life without parole."

I'm pretty sure he means 54 years to life, not 54 years to file.  Spell check won't catch that one.  The computer also probably doesn't know Latin very well either.  So I think that by "defector sentence" he meant "de facto sentence".

Not one this helps Mr. Bell.  But at least we can get the words right.