Monday, December 19, 2016

People v. Mickel (Cal. Supreme Ct. - Dec. 19, 2016)

There are no published opinions from the Ninth Circuit today.  Pre-Christmas lull.  There's only one published opinion from the California appellate courts thus far today.  Perhaps inconsistently with the holiday spirit, it's from the California Supreme Court, and it's a case in which the Court unanimously affirms a death sentence.

Not that the prosecution was all that hard.  Defendant admitted that he ambushed and killed a police officer as a "political" statement.  He left a homemade flag next to the officer's body with the phrase "This Is A Political Action. Don‘t Tread On Us‖" written below the image of a snake.  Then he flew to New Hampshire, talked to a reporter, and turned himself in.

He also represented himself at trial.  Or at least sort of did.  He didn't put on any actual defense.  He said he would "sit in silent protest during the guilt phase" and that "not speak or raise any issues until the penalty phase," and during his brief closing statement, he told the jury that he'd explain during the penalty phase why he had killed Officer Mobilio.

Needless to say, it took the jury only 45 minutes to find him guilty.

Then there's the penalty phase.  "During the penalty phase, defendant also testified that he had acted out of a sense of patriotism. Defendant ultimately presented the theory that he had killed Officer Mobilio in order to defend constitutionally guaranteed liberties that he believed the government was infringing, including the right to bear arms. Defendant explained that he came to California to kill a police officer because he wanted his actions to make a national statement. He believed California to be the least gun-friendly state in the country, and where "the war on drugs is fought the hardest." Defendant traveled to California in September 2002 to find a location where he could ambush a police officer, drive back to Washington, and then fly to New Hampshire without being arrested. He explained that he had intentionally chosen New Hampshire as the location where he would be arrested because he believed the New Hampshire Constitution guaranteed the right of revolution."

Yeah. Okay.  Anyway, you can figure out the rest.