Monday, December 02, 2019

People v. Beck & Cruz (Cal. Supreme Ct. - Dec. 2, 2019)

Imagine that someone asked you to write a book.  An entire book.  How easy would that be?

Now imagine that the person told you that nothing you said in the book would matter.  Plus, as a bonus, you'd be discussing events that occurred 30 years ago, and that currently concern very few people.  How excited would you be to take on such a task?

I ask this after spending quite a bit of time -- trust me, quite a bit -- reading this opinion from earlier today. Which spans 185 pages.  Which affirms the convictions and sentences for a 1990 murder in which several people were sentenced to death but in which the probability of these defendants actually being executed is essentially nil.

Do you want to do a good job on the opinion?  I'm sure you do.  There are lives at least allegedly at stake, and these are serious crimes.  Nonetheless, I suspect that as you're writing the opinion and hit pages 100 or 120, you start to just want it done and over with.  If only because, as a practical matter, none of this will make much of a difference in the end.  The defendants will die in prison, a natural death, either way.

But read the entire thing if you'd like.  It's a unanimous opinion, and a horrible crime to be sure.

From 1990.  In which the defendant's fate is already set.