Friday, May 1, 2009

Details of the Dismissal

According to the court document, the dismissal was filed "as to Sharon Rocha only." However, since Judge Beauchesne has dropped the case from his calendar, it appears Dennis Rocha must have filed his own dismissal.

The second detail is that Sharon Rocha filed the dismissal "without prejudice," which means she can refile the suit at a future date.

Within legal civil procedure, prejudice refers to a loss or injury, and refers specifically to a formal determination against a claimed legal right or cause of action. [1] Thus, in a civil case, dismissal without prejudice is a dismissal that allows for re-filing of the case in the future. The present action is dismissed but the possibility remains open that the plantiff may file another suit on the same claim. This directly differs from a dismissal with prejudice, in which the plantiff is barred from filing another case on the same claim. Dismissal with prejudice is a final judgment and the case becomes res judicata on the claims that were or could have been brought in it. Dismissal without prejudice is not. (Wikipedia)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Rochas drop wrongful death suit against Scott

I congratulate Sharon and Dennis Rocha for making this decision.

Laci's parents drop wrongful death lawsuit against Peterson

The parents of Laci Peterson quietly dropped a wrongful death lawsuit against death row inmate Scott Peterson last week, a court official said, leaving a Stanislaus County Superior Court judge with no reason to call the case that had been scheduled for a hearing this morning.

A trial was slated to begin next month, but Modesto’s most notorious offender would not have been transported from San Quentin State Prison. And even if Scott Peterson’s former in-laws had won a multi-million-dollar judgment, it would have been largely symbolic.

The litigation did not shed much more light on a sensational capital case that ended in guilty verdicts in fall 2004 and sent Scott Peterson, formerly a fertilizer salesman, to death row in spring 2005.

AP - Laci Peterson

The Peterson Case: A special report
In a videotaped deposition taken in jail, Scott Peterson insisted that he did not kill his wife and unborn son. He also asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination, declining to answer questions 195 times, according to a transcript that is part of the public record.

It was unclear if a settlement had been reached, though a court official said attorneys for Sharon Rocha and her ex-husband Dennis Rocha filed papers to dismiss the case.

Attorneys involved in the case were not immediately available for comment.

Scott Peterson’s conviction is on appeal in the California Supreme Court.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Scott Peterson Appeal & Civil Trial

From emails I receive, it is painfully obvious that many people are ignorant of how long an appeal takes, especially one involving capital murder. I often receive comments like, "Well, if they had new evidence, he'd be out by now." Well, folks, Scott hasn't even been appointed his appellate attorney to handle the appeal before the CA Supreme Court. That appeal doesn't have to be heard first, but it makes sense to have it that way. It's the appeal that will determine if there were serious enough problems with the way the trial proceeded -- including inefficiency of counsel -- to warrant a new trial. Then, if there has been new evidence discovered since the first trial, it can be presented at the second trial. I have a very difficult time understanding why that is so hard for people to grasp.

Appeals take time. Rushing to get an appeal heard is often counter-productive -- patience in taking time to develop a solid appeal means more time in prison in the short-term, but less time in the long-run.

Contrary to public opinion, it is not easy to win an appeal. Subscribe to some of the appellate newsletters and you will quickly learn that most appeals won are about the sentencing -- the Judge didn't properly follow the sentencing guidelines. Very few appeals, percentage wise, result in new trials.

Of course, if the appeal before the CA Supreme Court fails, then a habeas appeal is the next step, and that requires the discovery of new evidence which, in the appellate court's opinion, would have been sufficient to possibly change the verdict if it had been presented at the first trial.

Which brings me to the subject of the Civil Trial, which, according to the latest from the ModBee, is scheduled to start May 27 and last about 5 weeks. What happens at the Civil Trial will have absolutely no bearing on the appellate process. If Scott is exonerated by the civil jury, he will still remain on death row, until he is granted a new trial by an appellate court. The only positive to come out of the Civil Trial for Scott is perhaps to change public opinion so that a 2nd trial is more apt to be fair and just.

In my opinion, the Civil Trial is an immoral waste of judicial time. What can the Rochas possibly gain from it? He's already convicted, sitting on death row. What if he were to write a book, do you really think enough people would buy it to make him any money? And he wouldn't have anything to spend the money on anyway. Get real, people, he's on death row. Not a lot of need for money on death row.

I understand why some families file wrongful death suits when the person they believe is guilty is exonerated -- it's their last hope for any sense of justice. And I know that these suits have deadlines for filing, so I don't fault the Rochas for getting the process started. But once convicted, what good is it going to serve to continue with it. They'll never see one penny of any judgment they get, and why put themselves through the torture of hearing that evidence all over again?

More importantly, why take the risk of the Geragos law firm doing a much better job of using the State's evidence to prove Scott's innocence, and thus turning around public opinion?

Aha, you ask "What State's evidence proves Scott's innocence?" Well, let me briefly review two of the main ones. You can go to to get full details.

1. Conner's Age

Dr. Yip and Dr. Galloway prove Conner lived beyond December 24. Yip's evaluation of Conner's 2nd sonogram proves that on December 23 either: 1) Conner was younger than previously thought - at 32 weeks gestation rather than 33 weeks; or 2) Conner was a smaller than average 33-week baby. Galloway's evaluation dated Conner as 35-36 weeks if he was an average baby, or 37-38 weeks if he was smaller than average.

Even if you blindly insist that Conner was a 33-week average baby on December 23, you have to accept Galloway's 35-36 week for average babies as his age when he died. There's no getting around it. That means Conner lived 2-3 weeks beyond December 24, and so did Laci.

This proves that Scott Peterson did not put a pregnant Laci in the Bay on December 24, 2002. Nor is it likely that he put a pregnant Laci in the Bay 2-3 weeks later, knowing they were searching the Bay looking for Laci.

2. The Debris Line

So well caught in the State's pictures of this particular scene is the very telling fact that baby Doe (Conner) was behind the debris line. Simply put, the debris line is the limit of the wave action of that high tide. For Conner to have washed ashore in the high tide on the morning of April 13, 2003, he would have to be part of the debris line or in front of the debris line (that is, between the debris line and the rocks which he had to navigate through). A debris line is not deposited as the water recedes, as Distaso so ignorantly claimed, and the jury just as ignorantly swallowed. The debris line is formed by the wave action, as the waves push the debris forward.

The State's pictures prove there was no break in the debris line, so Conner wasn't pushed past the debris by wind, or dragged over by an animal. And of course, the autopsy showed not a single mark on Conner's little body that could have come from being handled by an animal or bird.

Conner did not wash ashore; he was put there by human hands, pure and simple.

This means that NO ONE put pregnant Laci in the Bay at any time.

Well, then, who murdered Laci and Conner? I have no idea, and it's pretty ridiculous for anyone to expect me to know. I don't have investigative powers. I don't have access to all the tips and clues that the MPD refused to investigate. I don't have power to subpoena documents or interrogate witnesses. All I can do is examine the evidence the State makes public, and raise questions about tips and clues made public that the MPD didn't investigate.

And it's ridiculous to expect a defendant to be able to produce the guilty party. Defense attorneys are just about as limited in their powers as I am - well, they can do a little more, but they don't have the powers the State has. That's just the way it is. Defense attorneys do a terrible injustice to their clients when they promise the public they will prove who the guilty party is.