Spitzer Law Blog

Spitzer Law Blog

News & Views on Victims' RIghts

Prominent Marsy's Law Attorney Teaches at CA District Attorney Victim Witness Training

Marsy's Law Attorney, Todd Spitzer, addresses Victim Witness advocates at California DA's Association training.  Spitzer was the invited keynote luncheon speaker.

 

I was the keynote lunch speaker for the California District Attorney's Association Victim Witness Training at Chapman University School of Law on Monday. Victim Witness specialists from across California attended the CDAA training to lea rn about how to best support crime victims. I lectured on the role of the Attorney Victim Advocate and our new role as lawyers in criminal cases representing crime victims. I am pleased, as the Legal Affairs Director for Marsy's Law for All, to answer any questions Victim Witness coordinators might have.
 
I am encouraging every Victim Witness Coordinator in California to file a formal declaration at the commencement of every criminal proceeding the assertion of the Victim's Marsy's Rights.  I am working with the Orange County Community Services Program (CSP) and its Victim Witness specialists to utilize this important tool.  At the talk on Monday, only one represented County at the conference indicated that its office was presently filing the Marsy's Rights with the Court.
 
Working together, we can make sure Victims' Rights are being enforced!
 

Spitzer Law Office Clients Win Significant Parole Denial in the Murder of their Mother, Debbie Moreau

Kelly and Shawn Moreau secure thousands of signatures urging Governor Brown to reverse the Board of Parole Hearings.  The won!

By Todd Spitzer, Attorney at Law and Marsy's Law Attorney

On September 6, 2012, I represented Shawn and Kelly Moreau to fight the release of their mother's murdered, Michael Garrett, at the Avenal State Prison.

At a hearing a year earlier, Garrett was given a release date by the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH).  I was retained by the Moreau's and was able to convince Governor Brown to reverse the earlier decision of the BPH.  You can read my letter here: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/17059664/Moreau/Garrett.J-95746.VictimsMoreaus.GovBrown.pdf

At the hearing to consider his release in September, Kelly and Shawn convinced the BPH to deny Debbie's murderer another parole hearing under Marsy's Law for three years, a significant win.

The lesson: the participation of the victims at the BPH is critical.  It is also important to have the assistance of legal counsel to ensure that the victims arguments to the BPH meet the legal standards that build the best case of a denial of parole.

Kelly and Shawn's participation became a reality throught he financial assistance of Crime Survivors, Inc. and CEO Patricia Wenskunas: http://www.crimesurvivors.org

If you have any questions about the BPH process or need help making your case before the BPH, please contact www.spitzerlawoffice.com

 

 

Spitzer Law Office Clients Win Significant Parole Denial in the Berlyn Cosman Prom Night Murder Case After a Prior Grant of Parole

 

 

 

I prepare my clients, Morgan Cosman Kelly and her mother, Susan Cosman, at the Deuel State Prison in Tracy moments before they confront Berlyn Cosman's murderer after 20 years.

By Todd Spitzer, Attorney at Law and Marsy's Law Attorney

On September 19, 2012, after waiting nearly 20 years to confront Paul Crowder who murdered Berlyn Cosman, Morgan Cosman Kelly and Susan Cosman travelled to Deuel State Prison in Tracy, CA to participate in his parole consideration hearing under Marsy's Law.  They received a five year denial.

I was retained by the Cosman Family after Morgan read in a Glendale, CA newspaper that her sister's murderer, Paul Crowder, had been given a parole date by the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH).  Morgan was always led to believe the Crowder was given a no parole sentence.  Unbeknowst to Morgan (who was just a child at the time of her sister's death), her father had been receiving notice of the parole hearings, but did not share it with Morgan, trying to protect her.

I was able to convince Governor Brown to reverse the BPH which he did.  So on September 19, after two decades, sister and mom confronted Crowder and convinced the BPH that Crowder was still a danger to the community and should not be let out.  They won!

The lesson: crime victims must participate in these hearings with the assistance of an experienced lawyer to make the arguments to the BPH which will meet the legal standard that is required for a denial.

Susan Cosman was so traumatized by this experience that she suffered "transient amnesia" and had to be hospitalized.  She has now made a full recovery, but has no recollection of testifying or personally confronting Paul Crowder.

Read the full article here:

http://www.ocregister.com/news/parole-372191-cosman-crowder.html

This was why in writing Marsy's Law we added 15,10 and 5 year denials as an option for the BPH.  Why should a victim have to go through this stress time and time again?

If you have any questions about BPH hearings please contact me through www.spitzerlawoffice.com

Orange County Superior Court Appellate Division Grants Spitzer Client New Restitution Hearing After Prosecutor Violated Her Marsy's Law Rights

By Todd Spitzer, Attorney at Law and Victim's Advocate

On October 3, 2012, the Three Judge Panel of the Appellate Division of the Orange County Superior Court agreed to issue a Writ of Mandate ordering the Orange County Superior Court Trial Division to give Spitzer Client, Lori Galvin, a de novo restitution hearing after the Deputy District Attorney and the Public Defender unlawfully stipulated to a restitution amount without consulting the Victim.

Never forget that the Prosecutor does not represent the Victim unless, under Marsy's Law, the Victim elects to have the Prosecutor represent her.  In this case, Lori Galvin was ready to testify at the Restitution Hearing and remained isolated in the Victim Witness Office waiting for the Deputy DA to call her to Court for the hearing.  Instead, the DDA went behind Galvin's back and settled the restitution amount WITHOUT letting Galvin know.  He agreed to a little more than $1,000 when she was owed more than $10,000 because the DDA did not undestand the law.

The Court of Appeal backed Spitzer's client and wrote:

"Nonetheless, Mr. Spitzer's declaration that the prosecutor and defense counsel entered into an "unlawful stipulation" "in violation of Marsy's Law," combined with the court's own recollection of its ruling that the victim could seek restitution on the dimissed count, could have provided the court with sufficient information from which  to determine that the amount stipulated to by the prosecutor and defense counsel appeared insufficient to compensate the victim's injuries....Based on the record, the amount awarded in this case does not appear to have constituted "full restitution"."  The People's stipulation did not and could not deprive the victim of her right to full restitution; the right to victim restitution is mandatory and "cannot be bargained away by the People."

The entire opinion is below:

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/17059664/Banning%20J.%20Knudsen%20Case/Knudsen.Appeal.Denial.SuperiorCourt.pdf

If you would like my trial court brief or have any questions, please contact me at www.spitzerlawoffice.com

Spitzer on Bill Carroll Show KFI AM640

Last week I was a guest on the Bill Carroll Show (KFI AM640) to talk about a killer who will not go free thanks to our efforts to support Victims Rights. Listen to my interview using this link:

http://www.kfiam640.com/player/?mid=21873451

 

Former Swim Coach Pays Jane Doe $15,000 for Psychological Trauma under California Law

By Todd Spitzer, Attorney at Law and Victims' Advocate

On Wednesday, February 29, 2012, a settlement was reached in the restitution hearing of the People of the State of California versus Todd Sousa.  Sousa pled guilty for engaging in various unlawful sex acts with my client Jane Doe.  Sousa had pled guilty in a plea deal with the Judge to  those crimes and was sentenced to sixteen months in state prison and to register as a convicted sex offender for life.

Under California law, victims of sex crimes enumerated under Penal code section 288 (Lewd Act Upon a Child) are eligible for not only traditional damages such as medical bills and lost wages, but also for psychological trauma, referred to as non-economic damages.

In a settlement negotiated this week, Sousa agreed to pay $15,000 cash now and continue to be responsible for the expenses related to mental health counseling for Jane Doe and her family for an indefinite period.

Crime victims, unfortunately, can get orders from convicted felons to pay restitution.  However, in the case of Sousa, who will be a convicted child molester when released from prison, it will be very difficult for him to gain lawful and steady employment.  That was the motivating factor in why my client settled for $15,000 now versus having an order for a larger amount that would probably never been paid by Sousa.

Here is the original article when Sousa was arrested:

 

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/sousa-289837-sex-swim.html 

Governor Reverses Parole for Convicted Murderer Michael Garrett

 

 

By Todd Spitzer, Attorney at Law and Crime Victims Advocate:

In 1995, Debbie Moreau was beaten and then strangled to death by her live-in boyfriend Michael Garrett.  After the murder, Garrett wrapped the body in a sheet and secreted Debbie in a second room in the apartment while he proceeded to do drugs for the next eight days.  His over-dosed body was found by the landlady and Garrett was taken to the hospital where he, of course, recovered.  Upon a search of the residence, the landlady found Debbie's lifeless body.

Garrett was sentenced to Life with the possibility of parole.  In 2008 his parole was denied for three years.  In 2011, Shawn and Kelly Moreau testified against the release of Garrett.  The Board of Parole Hearings gave Garrett a parole grant despite the objections.  During the hearing, Shawn was so upset by the ruling that he was removed from the hearing room.  Kelly was also removed.  But they fought back:

http://www.ocregister.com/news/garrett-325949-moreau-parole.html?pic=1 

When Kelly and Shawn began their crusade to try to convince Governor Brown to reverse his decision, Kelly found me through Facebook.  I began representing them.  My role was to review the 2008 and 2011 transcripts and determine the most compelling factual and legal arguments that we could make in order to convince Governor Brown to keep Garrett behind bars for as long as possible.

On Thursday, March 1, Governor Brown announced that he had reversed Garrett's parole Grant:

 

 

 

 

 

  

A Woman Raped by Ex Is Forced to Pay Spousal Support!

http://abcnews.go.com/US/victim-ordered-pay-attacker-spousal-support/story?id=14876268#.TrV6PF-otuN

 

By Todd Spitzer: I represent crime victims in courts of law and fight to ensure that they get every conceivable right enforced because of the revictimization that occurs throughout our system.  The ex-husband goes off to prison, but she is forced to pay his support after he is convicted of raping her.  That's a loophole in the law that needs closing?  The Judge should have said "no way" to the ex-husband and forced him to appeal.

 

The Legislature needs to step on the gas and fix this with an urgency measure that becomes law immediately upon the signature of the Governor.  Get ready to write your letters to Sacramento!

 

 

 

Crime Victims' United of California's Take on the SAFE

http://www.sacbee.com/2011/11/02/4026075/cals-death-penalty-ban-likely.html

 

By Todd Spitzer: Crime Victim United, as always, has done an excellent analysis of where we stand against another Initiative attack on the Death Penalty in California.  As the above link shows, delay after delay in the use of the death penalty is wearing the public thin.  Given Governor Brown's prison "Realignment" program, there is this sense that public safety will remain the same (safe) because of decades of measures, like Three Strikes, that got it there.  Hold on.  These liberal policies will effect our safety and there is no doubt that soft on crime measures will have a impact.

Crime Victims' United October 2011 Newsletter:

Background

 

In 1972 the California Supreme Court ruled that death penalty laws were unconstitutional and at the time oversaw the commuting of 107 death sentences. Following that ruling the California Constitution was quickly modified to reinstate capital punishment under a voter-approved initiative, Proposition 17.

 

In a 1976 decision, the California Supreme Court again held the states' death penalty statute unconstitutional, but the statute was again modified and reinstated. In 2006 a U.S. District Court Judge blocked the execution of convicted murderers because of complaints about the manner in which lethal injections were being administered. Executions have been halted until these methods can be satisfactorily amended. California currently has nearly 700 people on death row - by far the highest in the nation. However, no inmate in California has been put to death in the last four years because of an ongoing legal battle over execution procedures thereby instituting a de facto moratorium on executions.

 

The 2012 SAFE Act

 

Failing to convince Californians that the death penalty is wrong, death-penalty opponents have a new strategy that is gaining ground - attacking capital punishment based on fiscal concerns.   This approach is forming the basis for a November 2012 ballot initiative to abolish the death penalty in California and revert death row inmates' sentences to life without parole (LWOP). The initiative - the "Savings, Accountability, and Full Enforcement for California Act" ("SAFE Act") - is being supported by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), current and retired law enforcement and a number of victims of violent crime.

 

Crime Victims United of California (CVUC) strongly supports the death penalty as an option for the worst of criminal offenders. And while we cannot deny the significant costs associated with it, its fiscal tag should not stand in the way of justice. The abolishment of the death penalty, particularly based on fiscal arguments, is an insult to victims - especially those victims whose offenders currently sit on death row. Such an effort and its fiscal arguments essentially say to those victims that the lost victims' lives are not valued over the high costs of justice for the state. This notion is reprehensible.

 

Dysfunction Feeds the Effort

 

Under the current system, the average delay in California between the time someone is given a death penalty sentence and when an execution actually takes place is now averaging more than 25 years. According to the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice ("Commission"), expenses related to the death penalty costs the state $137 million per year. Sixteen states across the U.S. have abolished the death penalty, with New York and Illinois being the most recent. California law requires a vote by referendum in order to repeal the death penalty in California.

 

The effort to abolish the death penalty is fueled by the Commission's report that called California's death penalty a "dysfunctional" system and "close to collapse." The report suggests that the death penalty is too flawed to be effective, citing backlogs in assigning lawyers and in reviewing death row appeals - thereby creating the longest time in the nation between conviction and execution. Chief Justice Ronald George noted that "if nothing is done, the backlogs in post-conviction proceedings will continue to grow until the system falls of its own weight."

 

Crime Victims United of California (CVUC) wholeheartedly agreed with the Commission's conclusion that the death penalty process is dysfunctional and doesn't deny the SAFE Act proponent's claims that the death penalty is outrageously expensive. The significant delays in the system have essentially resulted in a de-facto moratorium on the death penalty - one that is unjust and unfair to victims and their families who have endured decades upon decades waiting for justice to be fulfilled. These delays also help add to the significant costs that proponents of abolishment believe is sufficient to justify its elimination as a sentence for the most heinous of offenders.

 

While the Commission did not advocate abolishing the death penalty, it noted that California could save over $100 million a year if the state replaced the punishment with LWOP. The report goes on to say that death row prisoners cost more to confine, are granted more resources for appeals, have more expensive trials and usually die in prison anyway.

 

While it may be true that death row prisoners incur higher costs, CVUC disagrees that the answer to the problem is sentencing such individuals to LWOP instead as the proposed initiative would do. Perhaps the state could save $100 million in doing so, but let's face it - $100 million, while it is a lot of money to most Californians it is a drop in the bucket, pocket change if you will, to the overall budget of the state of California. Furthermore, opponents to the death penalty have begun to cite the savings estimate provided by the Commission and others as justification for abolishment and a means to address the state's budget deficit; but, again, CVUC notes that the state's deficit is $9.6 billion - savings of $100 million is not going to make a huge difference - it is pocket change in the overall budgetary fight.

 

Reality Check

 

CVUC strongly believes that the answer to the significant delays and high costs associated with the death penalty in the state is to address the cost drivers - the problems of backlogs and associated delays in the appeals process. The Commission's report provides recommendations to lessen the appeals process to 12 years; while this is still a significant delay, it is far better than the 20-25 years that death row victims must endure for justice to be served. Bottom line - if the state invested in reducing the backlog and appeals process delays, CVUC is certain that the state could save significantly more than $100 million.

 

To be clear, CVUC is not suggesting the appeals process should be shortened at the expense of ensuring proper convictions. Arguments have been made that innocent persons may be executed under the current system; however, there has not been a single case of a death row inmate who has been fully and factually exonerated in California. The opportunity for DNA testing and consideration is an option in many cases to help support claims of innocence; however, we are not aware of any case in California where a death row offender has been proven factually innocent of the crime they went to death row for. Instead, they are often moved off death row because of technicalities in their legal defense - no factual innocence in such an outcome. The current system allows for sufficient time for such individuals to be exonerated, should they indeed be innocent of the crimes for which they have been accused - the reality is that they are not innocent of their crimes. Twelve member juries unanimously found these criminals guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Even though the jurors faced the agonizing choice of deciding whether a convicted murder should die or spend the rest of his or her life in prison, decided that the aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating factors, and voted in favor of execution. The facts and logic compel the conclusion - that these offenders committed their crimes and deserve the ultimate punishment.  

 

Furthermore, prosecutors and judges are the most versed in the details of the crime and case - they should have broad discretion and sentencing tools available to them to ensure that the sentence fits the crime. Since the death penalty in California was reinstituted in 1978, the imposition of death sentences has dramatically declined to about 20 a year. This hardly illustrates the overuse of the sentence in California, particularly when less than 2% of all murderers in California were sentenced to death in 2001 (according to a 2003 study conducted by the California District Attorneys Association, Attorney General's Office, and the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation). Additionally, under state law, even if a jury unanimously votes to sentence a defendant to death, the trial judge has authority to reverse the sentence if he/she feels the jury's decision was improper. Every case is automatically appealed to the California Supreme Court and capital defendants are allowed to directly and collaterally (through habeas corpus) challenge their conviction at every level of state and federal courts.

 

Again, CVUC agrees that California's death penalty process is "dysfunctional." However, we only agree to the extent that the dysfunction is a direct result of the unacceptable delays that result in victims waiting decades for justice and driving up the costs associated with the sentence. It is critical that the state address the significant delays and associated costs. No victim should have to wait upwards of 20-25 years for justice nor should they have their offender's sentence changed on them after they believe they had received a just sentence for the an offender who was deemed the worst of the worst.

 

The Irony of the SAFE Act & Constitutional Truth

 

Specific to the SAFE Act, death penalty opponents' fiscal arguments to support such an initiative are ironic. The high costs and lengthy delays cited are due to litigation they have brought forth that seek to institute those delays and drive up the overall cost of executions to support their argument. Although they often argue the constitutionality of the sentence based on the 8th and 5th Amendments of the Constitution, no serious constitutional argument can be made against the death penalty. The Constitution does not empower the Supreme Court to proscribe capital punishment or to regulate it out of existence. And while the 8th Amendment bars "cruel and unusual punishments" and the 5th guarantees "due process of law" before a person can be "deprived of life, liberty or property," there is no serious constitutional argument against the death penalty. The 5th Amendment itself recognizes the existence of "capital" crimes and executions were common before and after the Constitution's framing. Furthermore, in all, the average case is likely to be reviewed by various courts over 10 times, and that isn't even counting the inevitable last-minute habeas filings that keep judges up late at night or requests clemency from the Governor or President - and they argue due process issues? Really?

 

Those who ignore these points have made it increasingly expensive and less effective - feeding their latest ploy to conveniently argue the death penalty is too expensive for California. Their endless campaigns to ban it cost taxpayers millions to defend. Ironic that the very claims they use to support their efforts are a direct result of the actions they've engaged in to thwart justice.

 

While CVUC will be watching this proposed initiative's progress closely, we are confident Californians will continue to uphold the death penalty for the worst of offenders. In a survey completed earlier this month The Field Poll updated its tracking of California public opinion on the death penalty issue. The central finding from the most recent survey in September 2011 is that there continues to be strong support for keeping the death penalty (68%). That said, we must be vigilant and mindful of the fact that the survey also found a growing tendency of voters to favor LWOP over capital punishment for those convicted of first degree murder (48%).

 

SAFE Act proponents must collect 504,000 valid voter signatures by March 18th to qualify the initiative for the ballot. Stay tuned...

 

For more information on the Field Poll survey, please see http://www.field.com/fieldpollonline/subscribers/Rls2393.pdf

 

For more information on the SAFE Act, please see http://ag.ca.gov/cms_attachments/initiatives/pdfs/i978_11-0035_(repeal_the_death_penalty).pdf 

Death Penalty Opponents Are At It Again: Wrong Solution

http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/oct/25/efforts-underway-ballot-measure-end-death-penalty

 

 

By Todd Spitzer:  The solution to the death penalty is not to abolish it; that has been the agenda by some for years. Now they are using the inefficiency of the system--more than 25 years of delay and appeals--to call for life without the possibility of parole. The solution: allow the Courts of Appeals to hear death case appeals; not just the CA Supreme Court which has original jurisdiction. This idea was first floated by Justice George while I was still in the Legislature in 2008. 

Sex Offender Mis-Placements--Children Put in Harm's Way

http://taxdollars.ocregister.com/2011/10/27/state-placed-children-in-homes-with-sex-offenders/119363/

 

 

By Todd Spitzer: I am sick to my stomach about this finding. As the author of Megan's Law on the Internet (AB 488), I have dedicated my professional career to protecting our children and community against sexual predators. We have already dealt with Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) placing sex offenders in motels in our communities and now Elaine Howle, the state auditor has found unlawful placements of abused and neglected children where sex offenders also reside. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? The Governor should immediately launch an investigation of his administration and hold bureacrats accountable to such a stunning and alarming finding. I want to know if there are any children victims who became sexually abused as a result of the State's negligence. 

A Gentle Reminder: It Doesn't Take A Mass Crisis To Create Victim Devastation

http://www.ocregister.com/news/says-323818-jacobs-victims.html#article-comments

 

By Todd Spitzer: Why does it always take a mass crisis like this or Columbine, for example, for the media and the public to write about the trauma and devastating impact of crime on victims and the community? Almost every victim of crime is devastated by the impact to their lives. That's why we wrote Marsys Law and groups like Crime Survivors exist. When the justice system revictimizes victims, there is little hope that the victim will recover. That's why I represent crime victims in our courts, www.spitzerlawoffice.com. To ensure victims get justice and respect and dignity.
 

Murderers in Prisons: The Argument That "Life" Doesn't Mean "Life"

http://www.sacbee.com/2011/10/22/3998972/when-life-is-too-long-debate-over.html

By Todd Spitzer: So when a murder who takes the life of another human being is spared death for life without the possibility of parole and turns 50 we should just ignore the original crime and say "Geez, you are older now , so your youthful uncontrolled urges to kill now require an exit path to a free society with a letter of apology. Geez. Let's ask @marsylaw and @pomc and @crimesurvivors what they think of that!
 

 

DA Phile Cline Warns About the Public Safety Impact of So-Called "Realignment"

By Todd Spitzer: Some District Attorneys have been very vocal about the effects so called "Realignment" will have on public safety.  When I was the Chairman of the Assembly Select Committee on Prison Construction and Operations I repeatedly warned that failing to deal with prison overcrowding as a STATE responsibility will have dramatic impacts on public safety.  The interview with DA Phil Cline shows that he agrees.  He shares his concerns.  One thing we know for sure: costs to local government will increase dramatically while the impact of realignment will cause more crime in our precious communities.

 

 

http://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/article/20111015/OPINION09/110150322/DA-Phil-Cline-More-crime-more-criminals-more-cost?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|Frontpage|s

 

Viewpoint: Will there be increased costs to your department? And how will you balance that? What happens if state money runs out?

Cline: There will be increased costs to the District Attorney's Office. Most serious commentators expect local crime to increase. As crime increases, prosecution caseloads will increase. Realignment means that convicted felons will stay local. That means additional costs.

It is anticipated that because of a lack of local jail capacity, felons not sentenced to state prison will receive minimal local jail sentences or none at all. If so, they will be returned to the street to commit more crimes. If they continue to commit crimes, it will be necessary to prosecute the offender multiple times instead of only once as it was before realignment and there was a potential state prison sentence.

There will also be less incentive for criminals to plead guilty to their crimes because the prospect of appropriate punishment will be diminished. That will usually mean more motions, more hearings and more trials. And that means more costs.

It is clear what will happen "if state money runs out." Crime in local communities will return to the epidemic levels of the 1970s. 

Crime Victims Have Additional Resource In Cold Case Investigations

By  Todd Spitzer: As a professional lawyer who specializes in Victims Rights, I hear the horrific stories of families who face unsolved investigations into the death of their loved ones.  Oftentimes, the victim, through their own detective work, continue to pursue leads that eventually lead to the re-opening of a criminal cold case investigation.  Here is another resource that might help all of us who seek justice on behalf of crime victims daily.

 

"Known as NamUs, the vast national registry lets relatives, law enforcement, victim's rights advocates, and anyone scan the records and search for information that could help solve these heartbreaking mysteries.

NamUs, which is run by the National Forensic Science Technology Center, is under the direction of the National Institute of Justice.

Story: $100,000 reward in Lisa Irwin disappearance

“We know that NamUs could really be the key to making a difference in the lives of families that have been waiting and waiting to find missing loved ones,” said Kristina Rose, deputy director of the National Institute of JusticeThere are more than 8,800 total missing persons cases on NamUs, of which 75 percent remain open, including one that goes back to the Great Depression """

Anti-Death Penalty: So It's Really About the State Budget! Really....

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/11/the-appeal-of-death-row/8662/

Everytime the opponents of the death penalty find a reason to explain why Californians should outlaw the death penalty, they seize upon it.  The only reason the death penalty is so expensive is because  instead of emptying the cells at San Quentin's death row through the use of the death penalty, we continue to fill death row with inmates who will die of old age long before they see an execution date.  Our death penalty process has become such a joke, keeping death as an option in certain capital cases is no longer a certainty.  When anti-death penalty supports continue to guarantee that the system remains broken so that such sentiment against the death penalty continues, its hard to fight back except on moral grounds.  If it did not take from 3 to 7 years to appoint defense counsel for the appeals and the whole process didn't exceed 20 years of judicial review through appeals, maybe voters would have confidence it was working.  It is not.  The Supreme Court cannot review all death penalty cases.  Until we amend the constitution and allow the lower Appellate Courts to review death cases initially, the system will largely remain unworkable.

Cathy Thomas Speaks Out About Her Son, Kelly Thomas', Life

We have not heard a lot yet from Cathy Thomas, mother of Kelly Thomas.  But this article written by Denise Carson portrays a caring and passionate parent who wants to make sure that Kelly's life is celebrated.  Every crime victim family member reacts differently to the tragedy of murder.  We at Marsy's Law and those of us involved in the crime victims' movement welcome this public portrayal of courage, hope and optimism.

 

 

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/kelly-321220-cathy-life.html

A Victory for Crime Survivors in Orange County Court

I am pleased to be the attorney for my dear friends Genelle & Jack Reilly.  This afternoon at 1:30 p.m., the Reillys asserted their Marsy's Law rights to Judge Robinson and served notice on the District Attorney and Public Defender. We return to court on December 1, where Urdiales will be arraigned and we will argue for media access in the courtroom. I am proud of how tall and strong the Reillys stood up as crime survivors for their daughter, Robbin Brandley, who was murdered in 1986 at the age of 23.

 

See the latest story from the Orange County Register along with links to their photo gallery.  We will be posting additional stories and videos as they become available.  -- TS

 

Serial killer in O.C. to face more charges

Saddleback College student Robbin Brandley, slain in 1986, is among the victims of former Marine Andrew Urdiales, prosecutors say.
By VIK JOLLY and GREG HARDESTY | THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
 

 
 
 
Jack Reilley, left, and his wife Genelle, parents of Robbin Brandley, who was murdered in 1986, speak to the media during a press conference at the Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana after Andrew Urdiales, 47, who confessed to the killing, appeared in court for an arraignment hearing. The family's attorney, Todd Spitzer, center, listens in.
PHOTO BY LEONARD ORTIZ,
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

MORE PHOTOS »

 



SANTA ANA – A convicted Illinois triple murderer has been extradited to Orange County and will appear before a judge Friday to face charges in the slayings of five Southern California women, including a vicious stabbing of a Saddleback College student more than a quarter century ago.

 

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Client Louise Armstrong Emerges Victorious

I am very proud to have worked side by side with Attorney Louise Armstrong who was brutally attacked during a car-jacking and robbery in the City of Anaheim.  Please read her story in a trade publication that follows her industry by clicking anywhere on this box.  I wish I could tell all my clients and the victim community that things were perfect since we passed Marsy’s Law in November of 2008.  It’'s better; but it’s far from perfect.  Collectively, we are making a significant difference, one victim at a time.  Her attacker was sentenced to 16 years state prison.  Once we got coordinated with the deputy district attorney, we worked well together as a team.  Despite numerous Marsy's Law violations as outlined in the article, the prosecutor assigned the case for trial did an outstanding job working with me and my Louise.  Now that Nolan is in state prison doing 85% of his time because of the strikes he pled guilty to, it is so good to see Louise finally calm and happy. 

Congratulations.

Tracy Family Faces Killer

Please read the article and my comments I posted in the paper below the article (post #3). 

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ORIGINAL ARTICLE

The family is very fortunate to have Nina Salarno Ashford representing them at the parole hearing.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.

Prison Realignment Could Backfire

I listened to the Gov's speech today and I even tweeted him about keeping the responsibility for felons who should be sent to state prison in our local jails.  I do not like this public policy and think it could back-fire.   There are ways to do intervention and rehabilitation while an inmate is in state prison. - TS

Jerry Brown plans initiative to guarantee law enforcement funds
Sacramento Bee
By: David Siders
9/21/2011

Gov. Jerry Brown said this morning he will put on the November 2012 ballot a constitutional guarantee of funding for law enforcement realignment, the shift of certain offenders from state prisons to local control.

“I’m not leaving Sacramento until we get a constitutional guarantee,” Brown told hundreds of law enforcement and local government officials at Sacramento Convention Center.

Brown’s speech came less than two weeks before the state’s shift of some low-level offenders from state prisons to local control. Though the Democratic governor said he will veto any bill to reduce existing realignment funding, law enforcement and local government officials want a constitutional amendment guaranteeing it.

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Marsy's Law Impacts Parole Life Cases

When we put together Marsy's Law, our highest order was protecting the victims' family from the numerous parole hearings and to ensure the longest possible times between hearings. - TS

Life with parole about a 20-year term, study says
San Francisco Chronicle

By: Bob Egelko
Friday, September 16, 2011

Inmates serving life with the possibility of parole in California, mostly convicted murderers, spend an average of 20 years in prison and almost never commit new crimes after being released, a new study concludes.

The report by the Stanford Criminal Justice Center at the university’s law school, issued Thursday, also found that the state Board of Parole Hearings has become increasingly willing to set release dates for “lifers” in the last few years. But those dates have often been vetoed by the governor, under a voter-approved law that has parallels in only three other states, the report said.

Release rates are likely to increase, however, under Gov. Jerry Brown. Through April, Brown had overruled fewer than 20 percent of the parole dates approved by the board, which is composed mostly of former law enforcement officers and prison officials. The comparable veto rates were 70 percent for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and 98 percent for Gov. Gray Davis.


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