Friday, January 29, 2021

Ass'n for LA Deputy Sheriffs v. County of Los Angeles (Cal. Ct. App. - Jan. 29, 2021)

I'm torn about this one.

The 107 Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs definitely got overpaid.  Sometimes for years.  They should definitely pay the money back.

But many of those overpayments were a long time ago.  They started back in 2012.  At some point, it'd be unfair to deduct those overpayments from the employee's current wages.  Even if -- and, to me, this makes the deductions much more reasonable than they would otherwise be -- the deductions are limited to 15% of the relevant deputy's weekly pay.  The statute of limitations for mistake, for example, is three years.  Is it really okay to recoup overpayments that one side unilaterally made a decade or so later?  At some point, isn't it unfair?

The Court of Appeal holds -- among other things -- that statutes of limitations don't apply to administrative remedies like those applied here.  Which seems likely correct as a matter of leagl doctrine.

But, man.  At some point, doesn't equity come into play?  Maybe not after 8 years.  But at some point?

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

People v. Williams (Cal. Ct. App. - Jan. 27, 2021)

Justice Petrou begins this opinion with the following paragraph:

"Defendant Malik Williams appeals from a judgment after a jury found him guilty of felony burglary of a home. The entire case against defendant was based upon latent fingerprints found at the crime scene and identified as a match to those of defendant. No witness identified defendant, there was no other evidence of defendant having been on the scene, defendant was not found to own a car consistent with the getaway car, and defendant was never found to be in possession or otherwise connected with items stolen from the home."

Given that opening, I thought that she was going to say that the evidence was insufficient as a matter of law, which would have been a bold holding given prior precedent.  But in the end, she just says that since the evidence of guilt was far from clear (which is definitely true), the trial court's prejudicial comments about the defense's cross-examination of the expert were prejudicial and required reversal.  Which also seems definitely true.

The opinion is a fairly damning indictment of the trial judge, Dan Healy (up in Solano County).  You've got to read the whole thing to get the proper flavor, but it suffices for now to say that Judge Healy went out of his way to interject himself in the defense counsel's cross-examination of the prosecution's critical fingerprint expert and assist the prosecution in making its case.  Improperly.

The Court of Appeal's opinion doesn't mention it, but Judge Healy was previously formally admonished by the Commission on Judicial Performance for improperly denigrating various litigants in family law court, calling some of them "rotten," "stupid and thuggish" and a "total human disaster."  Judge Healy was subsequently moved out of family law court and into criminal court.

Which doesn't look like it's necessarily working out awesomely either.

Monday, January 25, 2021

People v. Taylor (Cal. Ct. App. - Jan. 22, 2021)

There are already numerous opinions from the California Court of Appeal -- and a resulting split -- as to whether Proposition 64 applies to the possession of marijuana in prison.  The California Supreme Court has granted review of a couple of those cases; indeed, briefing in the lead case started in 2019, and it is now fully briefed (as of June 2020) and simply awaiting oral argument and decision.  So we'll shortly know the definitive answer.

Notwithstanding that fact, Justice Elia writes a 26-page opinion saying how he thinks the issue should be decided.

I get it.  Defendants who appeal are entitled to an answer.  They don't necessarily want to wait until the California Supreme Court decides the issue.  Nor does the Court of Appeal want its timeliness statistics distorted by a case that's just sitting there awaiting a decision by the California Supreme Court.

Still.  That's a lot of effort to write an opinion that's ultimately unnecessary.  It's not like the California Supreme Court's decision is going to influenced at this point by this most recent case or its analysis.  And making the case final now only necessitates that we pay for either appointed counsel to write a petition for review (if the government wins) or pay the Attorney General to write one (if the defendant wins) -- both of which we know full well will be held pending the outcome of the California Supreme Court's decision.

Given all the wasted effort, I might just prefer that we hold the case for now, and then quickly and efficiently dispense with the thing once the Calfornia Supreme Court decides the issue later this year.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Midway Venture v. County of San Diego (Cal. Ct. App. - Jan. 22, 2021)

You'll be hard-pressed to find an appeal resolved on the merits as quickly as this one.

It's a high profile case -- at least down here in San Diego -- so it's perhaps not surprising that it received the attention in the Court of Appeal as it did.  Essentially, a strip club filed a lawsuit challenging various pandemic-related restrictions placed on its business, and the trial court not only granted the strip club a fair piece of relief, but then reached out and enjoined San Diego from enforcing a plethora of limitations on any restaurant or related business.  That ruling was issued . . . five weeks ago.

Restaurant owners were predictably psyched, but the County of San Diego predictably felt the opposite, and immediately filed an appeal, alongside a request for an emergency stay, which was granted by the Court of Appeal the same day it was filed.  Two days after the Notice of Appeal was filed, on its own, the Court of Appeal expedited the briefing, and set the oral argument to occur in less than a month.

The case gets argued on Tuesday, January 19 -- appellant's reply brief was filed the Friday beforehand (and Monday was a holiday) -- and here it is Friday, January 22, and boom, a 47-page opinion gets filed reversing the trial court and remanding the case back.

The ultimate result was widely anticipated; the trial court really did go out of its way to resolve issues that weren't really before it.  But the rapidity of the Court of Appeal's response was fairly unprecedented.

Speedy justice.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

People v. Moseley (Cal. Ct. App. - Jan. 20, 2021)

A 17-year old gets convicted of forcible rape and is sentenced to 66 years to life in prison.  That sentence means he's not even eligible for parole until he's 73 years old, at which point he'd have little (if any) life expectancy.  Further, while Section 3051 of the Penal Code, passed in 2013, grants parole eligibility for anyone under 25 years old once they've served a quarter century in prison, that statute doesn't apply to people like Mr. Moseley convicted of various violent sex offenses -- even though it does apply to people 25 years old (or younger) who commit first degree murder.

Mr. Moseley files a habeas petition claiming that it's unconstitutional to definitively keep him in prison (with no possibility of parole) until he's 73, especially since similarly-situated first degree murderers get parole eligibility after 25 years.  The District Attorney confesses error and agrees, and the trial court grants the petition.  Which is perhaps not surprising given what the California Supreme Court has said on this issue, which (as today's opinion explains) is this:

"Citing Graham v. Florida (2010) 560 U.S. 48 (Graham), the court in Contreras noted that while “‘[r]ecidivism is a serious risk to public safety, and so incapacitation is an important goal’ . . . [b]ut the ‘characteristics of juveniles’ make it ‘questionable’ to conclude that a juvenile offender is incorrigible; indeed, ‘“incorrigibility is inconsistent with youth.”’” (Contreras, at p. 366.) The court noted that the statute’s distinction between one strike defendants and those convicted of intentional first degree murder appeared inconsistent with United States Supreme Court constitutional jurisprudence: “[W]e note defendants’ contention that the current treatment of juvenile One Strike offenders is anomalous given that juveniles convicted of special circumstance murder and sentenced to LWOP5 are now eligible for parole during their 25th year in prison. This scheme appears at odds with the [United States Supreme Court’s] observation that ‘defendants who do not kill, intend to kill, or foresee that life will be taken are categorically less deserving of the most serious forms of punishment than are murderers. . . . Although an offense like robbery or rape is “a serious crime deserving serious punishment,” those crimes differ from homicide crimes in a moral sense.’ [Citation.] In the death penalty context, the high court has said ‘there is a distinction between intentional first-degree murder on the one hand and nonhomicide crimes against individual persons, even including child rape, on the other. The latter crimes may be devastating in their harm, as here, but “in terms of moral depravity and of the injury to the person and to the public,” they cannot be compared to murder in their “severity and irrevocability.”’” (Id. at p. 382, quoting Graham, supra, 560 U.S. at p. 69 and Kennedy v. Louisiana (2008) 554 U.S. 407, 438.)

The court in Contreras went on to state: “The parties point to no other provision of our Penal Code, and we are aware of none, that treats a nonhomicide offense more harshly than special circumstance murder. . . . We are also unaware of any other jurisdiction that punishes juveniles for aggravated rape offenses more severely than for the most aggravated forms of murder. Further, we note the concern raised by amicus curiae . . . that if defendants had killed their victims after the sexual assaults and had been sentenced to LWOP, they would have been eligible for a youth offender parole hearing after 25 years of incarceration . . . . [¶] Defendants contend that this treatment of juvenile One Strike offenders violates principles of equal protection and the Eighth Amendment. There is also a colorable claim that it constitutes ‘unusual punishment’ within the meaning of article I, section 17 of the California Constitution. As with the other issues arising from new legislation, we decline to resolve these contentions here. It suffices to note . . . that the current penal scheme for juveniles may warrant additional legislative attention.” (Contreras, supra, 4 Cal.5th at p. 382.)"

Sounds like the California Supreme Court's likely to grant relief for juvenile offenders like Mr. Moseley, no?  Which, again, is why the trial court granted the habeas petition.

Nevertheless, today, the Court of Appeal reverses.  In a split opinion, the majority concludes that there's a rational basis for giving parole eligibility for first-degree murderers after 25 years while at the same time denying that same relief for "one-strike" juvenile rapists like Mr. Moseley.

We'll see what the California Supreme Court does with this one.

Justice Chavez authors the majority opinion.  She says a lot of different things in her opinion, but especially given what the California Supreme Court said, I was waiting for her to answer the not-so-hypothetical that opinion mentioned.  So if Mr. Moseley had raped and then killed his victims, and was found guilty of first degree murder, he'd be eligible for parole in 25 years, but not if he leaves 'em alive?

Seems definitively irrational, no?  As well as not exactly the incentive effect we're looking to create.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

U.S. v. Gear (9th Cir. - Jan. 19, 2021)

This is a lot of effort into investigating and prosecuting someone for owning a Lithgow .22 caliber bolt action rifle, no?

I mean, yeah, I guess the guy wasn't allowed to possess it.  Not because he's a felon or anything like that, but rather because he's -- gasp! -- Australian.   You can't own firearms if you have a non-immigrant visa, and Melvyn Gear's in the United States (for many years) on an H-1B.  But, as it turns out, when he tells his Australian wife (from Hawaii, where he works) that he wants a divorce, his respective share of the martial property gets shipped to the States, including the aforementioned weapon.  A crime.  Someone drops a tip, federal agents conduct an investigation, interview witnesses, get a search warrant, and find the gun.  Hence the prosecution.

Okay.  I guess that's the law.  Mr. Gear gets 15 months in prison.  Far from an insignificant penalty.

At least from the opinion, there's no particular dirt on Mr. Gear.  No prior offenses, no threatening anyone, no other criminal conduct, etc.  Yet the feds come down fairly hard of him, I think.

I wonder if there's a backstory here.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

U.S. v. King (9th Cir. - Jan. 14, 2021)

Today's opinion, in my opinion, gives you a fairly good insight into what's in store for the Ninth Circuit during the next decade or so.

Let's begin with a hypothetical.  Which one of these individuals do you believe is more likely to have more than one handgun in his home.  (The question is not which one has one handgun.  Which one is likely to have multiple weapons.)

Person A:  Officers see him holding a handgun outside his home, and when he sees the police, he runs inside.  He has two prior convictions for possessing a loaded firearm and two prior convictions for being a felon in possession of a firearm.  (He also admits to being in a gang and having methamphetamine as well as heroin in his house, but let's ignore that for now.)

Person B:  Officers don't see him holding a handgun, but the victim of a domestic violence crime tells police that (pursuant to a request from the person who assaulted her) she gave the gun with which she was threatened to Person B.  He has a prior conviction for domestic violence and transporting cocaine for sale.

To reiterate:  Both people are probably likely to have a gun inside the home; for Person A, it's the gun the police saw him holding, whereas for Person B, it's the gun that the victim said she gave him.  (In truth, we don't actually know Person B took it into his house, but let's assume we think he probably did because that's where most people generally keep retained weapons).  

The relevant question is:  Who's more likely to have multiple guns in their residence?

Whatcha think?

Today's opinion says that the person most likely to have multiple weapons is . . . Person B.

Why does the panel come to that conclusion?  Well, because it has to in order to come out the way it wants.

Because we've already got a case about Person A.  That case, from 2014, was written by Judge Watford, and joined by Judges (Willie) Fletcher and (Milan) Smith.  The panel there unanimously held that the facts about Person A described above were insufficient to establish for purposes of a warrant that this person had multiple weapons.  Could they search the house for the one gun?  Yes.  But did they have sufficient probable cause to get a warrant to search for other guns?  No.  Just because you have one gun doesn't mean it's likely you have others.  Even if you've got repeated weapons convictions; e.g., twice for possessing a loaded firearm and twice for for being a felon in possession of a firearm.  There wasn't enough probable cause for Person A.

But today's panel consists of Judges Callahan, Bumatay and a district judge sitting by designation from Florida.  They want to -- and do -- hold that there was probable cause for Person B.  But the panel is not allowed to overrule circuit precedent.  So the way around it is to argue that Person B is more likely to have multiple weapons than Person A.  So that's precisely what they insist.  Thereby "distinguishing" the prior opinion written by Judge Watford.  A guy that a woman says she gave a gun to pursuant to a request from a domestic violence suspect is more likely to have multiple weapons than a guy the police actually see with a gun who then runs into house and has numerous prior weapons convictions.

If that's true, then, yes, the cases are indeed distinguishable.

But my infinitely firm belief is that, in truth, today's panel (1) doesn't like the prior circuit precedent, (2) definitely wouldn't have decided the prior case that way, (3) doesn't want to follow the reasoning of the prior opinion they hate, so (4) comes up with the purportedly distinguishing characteristics they isolate.  With the hope and expectation that Judge Watford and those of his ilk won't have enough votes to take the case en banc for conflicting with prior circuit precedent.

Maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe people actually believe that Person B -- the "she said she gave him a gun for safekeeping" individual -- is more likely to have multiple weapons than Person A (the guy with a slew of gun convictions who the police actually see fleeing with a weapon).

Do you?

Sometimes you follow circuit precedent with which you disagree.  Sometimes you concur to your own opinion and say it's a bad decision and try to take it en banc.  Sometimes you actually believe that the marginal differences at issue make the cases materially distinguishable.  And sometimes you just argue that differences that aren't actually material are purportedly material, simply in order to arrive at a result you prefer.

One of those things definitely happens here.

Sandoval v. County of San Diego (9th Cir. - Jan. 13, 2021)

Your average civil litigator probably doesn't cite a ton of cases involving a guy on probation who eats his stash of methamphetamine to avoid being caught with it and then dies in a holding cell.  Nonetheless, I bet you'll be citing this opinion repeatedly.  Or at least should be.

It's also interesting from a doctrinal perspective, in addition to being practically useful.

It's a civil Section 1983 case.  The trial court grants summary judgment to the defendant, but the Ninth Circuit reverses.

The part of the case that's practically helpful is its discussion of the objections that defendant submitted to the nonmoving party's evidence.  Defendant did what I'm certain you've seen a million times in your own practice:  submitted a ton of one- and two-word objections to a slew of documents and testimony.  Hearsay.  Lacks foundation.  Irrelevant.  Stuff like that.

Inexplicably, the plaintiff elected not to respond to any of those objections.  So in additon to granting the defendant's summary judgment motion, the district court sustained all of the objections and excluded the objected-to materials.

The Ninth Circuit, by contrast, was not amused.

Judge Wardlaw called the evidentiary objections "meritless, if not downright frivolous."  (She upped the ante later in the opinion by affirmatively calling them "frivolous" -- without the caveat.)  The panel hold that there were both substantive and procedural problems with the defendant's objections.

On the merits, Judge Wardlaw thought that the (somewhat boilerplate) objections were silly.  Take the relevance objections, for example.  Judge Wardlaw correctly points out that several of these objections were made to evidence that was definitely relevant.  More broadly, Judge Wardlaw says -- again, in my mind, entirely correctly -- that relevance objections on summary judgment are totally silly anyway.  If the evidence is irrelevant, then it won't create a genuine issue of material fact anyway, so who cares?  Why articulate (or rule on) such meaningless challenges.  Spot on.  Use that holding next time someone makes relevance objections regarding an MSJ.

Judge Wardlaw similarly says that the hearsay objections were also improper because -- and, again, she is definitely right on this -- because evidence on summary judgment doesn't have to itself be admissible and instead all that's required is a showing that evidence on the point might well exist and be able to be admitted.  So even if Joe can't testify as to what Sally said, Sally can, and if such testimony creates a genuine issue, no summary judgment.  Ditto for objections based on foundation.  Again:  You'll use that part of the opinion repeatedly when the other side makes similar objections to your MSJ evidence.  And be aware of the problem when you're making your own objections as well (or editing the objections that your associates puke out).

The opinion also makes an important procedural point -- one that, again, litigators will likely repeatedly employ, though (as I'll discuss) this one's not nearly as self-evidently correct as the others.  The opinion repeatedly finds fault with the one-word nature of the objections.  Judge Wardlaw isn't happy with "the defendants’ failure to explain their one-word objections."  The Ninth Circuit says that "[b]ecause the defendants did not explain these objections, we are largely reduced to guessing at the arguments underlying them" -- a definite factor in the panel's decision to find the district court's acceptance of these objections an abuse of discretion.  Moreove, the panel held that "to the extent the defendants intended to object to only parts of the documents, their unexplained generalized objections were insufficient to raise such an objection."  And a footnote about this point only added insult to injury, saying:  "The defendants provided an explanation for only one of their several objections, but in a twist of irony, that explanation makes clear that the objection lacked merit."

Lots of that can be useful if you want to argue that the objecting party is required to do more than just throw out one-word objections -- which, in my experience, anyway, is almost invariably how most litigators in fact articulate their evidentiary objections on an MSJ.  So definitely keep that in mind as well, both when articulating objections as well as when responding to them.

But as I previewed earlier, I'm less than entirely certain that Judge Wardlaw's critique on this point is unambiguously well-founded.  Lots of times, one word is really all have to -- or, perhaps, can -- say.  A piece of testimony may be hearsay because, well, it's hearsay.  Adding "asserts truth of matter asserted" or "X is testifying about what Y said" wouldn't really add much, would it?  Ditto for foundation or relevance or the vast majority of the typical MSJ objections, including but not limited to the ones here.

Plus, the critique might prove a bit too much.  Judge Wardlaw says we can't really understand the objections -- or the legitimacy (or illegitimacy) of sustaining them -- when they're just one word.  But I gotta remind everyone that that's pretty much entirely what we do at trial:  one word, no explanation, and a ruling from the district judge.  Indeed, try to say more, and lots of times you're going to evoke the definite ire of the judge.  If it's good enough for trial, presumably it's good enough for an MSJ, no?

Now, I can see an argument the other way.  At trial, we're worried about distractions, especially for the jury, or being improperly argumentative.  Plus it takes up time.  Not so when an objection is merely on the papers and in front of a judge.  We can afford to explain things there.  Maybe even no reason not to.  For precisely the resasons Judge Wardlaw identifies.

Still, I'm not entirely certain that one-word objections aren't fine.  At least when they're well-founded.  Yeah, sometimes it's hard to tell, and sometimes they're merely boilerplate (like here).  But sometime's they're not.

Regardless:  Litigators will definitely be able to employ the Ninth Circuit's opinion here in a variety of contexts (and on a variety of bases) in connection with MSJ motions.  So definitely a good opinion to know.

And cite.  Often.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Moser v. Las Vegas Metro P.D. (9th Cir. - Jan. 12, 2021)

A sniper for the Las Vegas SWAT team reads that a police officer has been shot and the assailant arrested, and comments on Facebook that it's "a shame [the assailant] didn't have a few holes in him."  The sniper gets removed from the SWAT team for that comment.  Judge Berzon, in dissent, thinks that's proper.  But Judge Lee's majority opinion says that it's not -- at least on summary judgment -- because it's unclear what the officer's comment means.

Do you think you know what the officer meant?

P.S. - The officer's comment began by saying "Thanks to a Former Action Guy (FAG) and his team we caught that asshole."  Judge Lee says in footnote 1:  "Moser said that “Former Action Guy (FAG)” is a self-deprecating term coined by a former SWAT colleague who switched to a different unit in Metro. Moser’s use of that derogatory term is not at issue in this case."  Other Ninth Circuit judges might not have been so kind.


Monday, January 11, 2021

People v. Brand (Cal. Ct. App. - Jan. 11, 2021)

This morning's opinion from the 4/1 begins by saying:

"A jury convicted Larry Brand of one count of possessing metal knuckles (Pen. Code, § 21810), one count of misdemeanor possession of heroin (Health & Saf. Code, § 11350), and one count of misdemeanor possession of methamphetamine (id., § 11377)."

Proof, I guess, that people in San Diego know how to have a good time.

Thursday, January 07, 2021

People v. Choi (Cal. Ct. App. - Jan. 7, 2021)

A seven year prison term is probably not the greatest way to start your incipient career as a paralegal.

P.S. - Don't represent yourself at trial, either.  The flaw of far too many people who think they're far brighter than they are.

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Balla v. Hall (Cal. Ct. App. - Jan. 6, 2020)

I never thought I'd see a day like today in American politics.  I certainly didn't imagine any such thing five or six years ago.

How the world -- and American democracy -- has changed.

This opinion from the Court of Appeal today involves a "typical" election.  Maybe some misleading speech, maybe some "dirty tricks" or the like, maybe some made-up names on the Internet slinging mud about particular candidates.

It's a qualitative, not quantitative, difference to go from that to what we've seen today.  Huge.

Coincidentally, today's Court of Appeal opinion involves an election in Solana Beach, a community down here in San Diego in which I once lived.  And the woman shot and killed in the Capitol today apparently lived in Ocean Beach, another beachside community down here in San Diego -- and the one in which I currently reside.

These are strange and disturbing times, my friends.

I'm confident that, over time, things will get better rather than worse.

But, my, how things have gotten worse.

To be in a world in which an election dispute merely resulted in some allegedly defamatory things on the Internet and an anti-SLAPP motion seems almost quaint at this point.

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

In re William Morse (Cal. Ct. App. - Jan. 5, 2021)

I don't know why this particular opinion had the effect on me that it did.  After all, I've read a lot of SVP (sexually violent predator) opinions.  This one's not really any different.  Someone's attracted to kids, gets caught, serves his time in prison, and then the state moves to keep him restrained -- essentially forever -- on the grounds that he's going to do it again.  And, typically, he's indeed found to be an SVP, he appeals, and the Court of Appeal affirms.

That's indeed exactly what happens here.  For logical reason.  I have little doubt that William Morse is indeed a pedophile.  I have little doubt that, if released, he's likely going to try to do something untoward with a kid again.  Given those predicate facts, this is not someone who I much want out on the streets.  Not in Octotillo, California, or anywhere else.  (Perhaps stereotypically, many of the offenses here happened in a trailer park; indeed, Mr. Morse was the caretaker of the park.)

Okay.  All makes sense.  As I said, there are tons of these opinions.  Not an unusual reaction.

Yet for some inexplicable reason, the concept of preventative detention here -- keeping someone in a "hospital" (essentially incarcerated) -- just seemed either palpably wrong or dramatically underutilized.

Am I confident that Mr. Morse will reoffend?  Yes.  Am I equally confident, when I read other opinions, that a plethora of other defendants will also reoffend?  Definitely.  Maybe even more so.  I bet there are hundreds of thousands of people in California alone where I could read their criminal history (which is essentially all we're doing in this opinion) and say with extraordinary confidence that, if released, they will definitely continue to commit their particular criminal iterations.  They've got massive impulse control and/or alcohol problems and will undoubtedly commit assault again.  Drug offenses.  Theft.  Domestic violence.  There are legions of crimes and criminals that we just know are going to reoffend once they've served their time and get out of prison.  Knowledge that's at least as certain (if not greater) than the knowledge that we have in this case.

So why don't we lock them up as well?

It can't be because they've served their prison time and thus deserve another chance, because that's true for SVPs as well.  It can't be because we might be wrong about a portion of them and it'd accordingly be unjust or unfair to institutionalize them because, again, that's equally true for SVPs.  Nor do I think one can legitimately uniquely label the crimes committed by SVPs the result of a "mental" condition or deficiency yet not apply that same label to drug addicts, arsonists, violent offenders with no impulse control, or a plethora of other individuals.  My guess is that there are tens of thousands -- maybe even hundreds of thousands -- of individuals in California alone who, upon review of their criminal history, we could confidently say we're "certain" that they'll reoffend upon release.

So if preventative detention is okay in situations like the one here, why not there as well?

It surely isn't because we think that SVPs can be more effectively "treated" in the "hospital" than the other offenders.  Pedophilia seems notoriously difficult to cure.  Nor, in truth, do we even massively attempt to do so.  We're institutionalizing these people so they're not out and do it again.  Period.  

Sure, at some point, maybe they get too old or infirm to continue to commit their offenses.  Ditto for the guy who's constantly getting into bar fights and the like.  We apply the label of "mental deficiency" to justify taking away someone's liberty in advance because we know they're going to commit a crime in the future if we release them.  Do we do something similar to the schizophrenic and other people with more classic mental defects?  Yes.  But it nonetheless seems different here.  With the schizophrenic, we aren't really focusing on future crimes.  Here, we definitely are.  Which makes it difficult to justify not doing the same thing for other mental deficiencies that equally -- if not more -- result in the commission of criminal offenses.

Again, there's nothing about today's opinion that's radically different than other SVP cases with similar facts.  Yet, for some reason, it's nonetheless striking to me.

Both the application and concept.

Monday, January 04, 2021

People v. Skiff (Cal. Ct. App. - Jan. 4, 2021)

Everyone's fairly used to seeing convictions for murder, manslaughter and the like in the Court of Appeal. Sometimes you even get manslaughter convictions based on DUIs.  Again:  Not unusual.

But in this one, the defendant gets convicted of involuntary manslaughter for running an elder care facility and admitted someone with dementia even though his license didn't permit the admission of patients with dementia.  The guy wanders off and gets killed, and the CEO gets convicted.

Now that you don't see very often.

The Court of Appeal affirms his conviction notwithstanding the defendant's argument that there wasn't sufficient evidence to support it.

The opinion doesn't mention the guy's sentence, so I went and looked it up.  The prosecution wanted eight years in prison.  The judge gave him six months in jail and five years of probation.