Tuesday, October 22, 2019

People v. R.C. (Cal. Ct. App. - Oct. 22, 2019)

Justice Yegan begins this opinion by saying:

"An attempt to commit armed robbery is extremely dangerous. Appellant is lucky he was not shot to death by the store clerk who resisted his attempt to commit this offense. He would not have been the first attempted robbery culprit to meet this fate."

I'll add that such would have been a particularly tragic result because the appellant (1) is a 14-year old child; (2) who attempted to rob a 7-11 with a BB gun.  Fortunately, all that happened was that appellant was arrested and placed on probation.

It's also a neat little appeal because it's one that's basically based on a law review article:  Northrop & Rosen's piece entitled “Kids Will be Kids: Time for a ‘Reasonable Child’ Standard for the Proof of Objective Mens Rea Elements.” (69 Me. L.Rev. 109 (2017)).  Appellant's counsel takes that academic argument and turns it into a concrete legal one.

But the Court of Appeal says that you can lead an appellate tribunal to water, but you can't make it drink.  The law review article says:  “Based on the goals of the juvenile system, significant advances in adolescent development research and recent Supreme Court holdings on juvenile culpability, we argue here that the juvenile code should be amended to explicitly refer to a reasonable child standard for any mens rea element that relies on a reasonable person as the measure for criminal culpability.” The Court of Appeal responds:  "No, thanks."

So there you have it.