Saturday, October 8, 2011

What's taking so long, Part 2

Scott's CA Supreme Court docket has the following two items:

09/03/2009Received:  notice from superior court that 30,846 pp. record was sent to appellant's counsel on August 31, 2009.
09/08/2009Date trial court delivered record to appellant's counsel  (30,846 pp. record) (see Cal. Rules of Court, rule 8.600(e)(1); the delivery date is the mailing date plus five days.) (Note: record was sent to appellant's counsel on August 31, 2009.)

Receiving that 30,846 pp record, which includes the trial court clerk's and reporter's transcripts, is just the beginning of the process.  The defense counsel now has to augment and complete the record, which means that every single page has to be reviewed to be sure everything that is needed for the appeal is included and then file motions to request anything that is missing.

Richard L. Rubin's Internet article "Update:  Augmenting and Completing the Record in Criminal Appeals:  A checklist" provides good detail on this process and some of the things the defense counsel has to be sure to get into the record.  The defense counsel has to be absolutely certain that everything needed for a successful direct appeal is included in the record -- and that obligation is amplified in a capital case with an inmate sitting on death row.

Scott's docket also has this entry:

01/19/2010Received:  copy of order from Superior Court of Stanislaus County assigning Judge Scott Steffen on January 15, 2010 for matters related to certification of the record for accuracy. (Order signed by Presiding Judge Jack M. Jacobson.)

This means that any motions for items to be added to the 30,846 pp are filed with and argued before Judge Steffen.  All motions approved by Judge Steffen have to be fulfilled by the State.  These motions are not listed on Scott's docket, so we don't know what has been involved in this step of the process.  I assume at some point we'll see a docket entry that Judge Steffen has certified the record to be accurate and complete.

For those of you so inclined to read the rules governing the appellate process, click here and scroll down to Chapter Ten for rules that govern death penalty cases.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Clarification on what is included in the direct appeal

ScottPetersonAppeal dot Org has had an article explaining the appellate process up for some time, and includes an explanation of what goes into a direct appeal and what goes into a habeas appeal.

Direct Appeal:  Anyone sentenced to death is required to file a direct appeal with the California Supreme Court. This appeal may not be waived. The direct appeal has to do with anything within the court record. It covers things like change of venue, evidentiary issues, juror removal, or any judge's ruling.

Habeas Appeal:  While the direct appeal deals with any proceeding that is part of the perfected record, the Habeas is open to almost anything that may challenge a conviction. It may deal with a profound injustice that state law allows, but that our constitution ensures against. Habeas issues would also include new evidence, misconduct by the prosecution, or ineffective counsel for the defendant. Undisclosed bargains or incentives to witnesses can be grounds within this appeal. 
The habeas is not automatic. It is filed at the request of the client and the court can deny hearing it without comment.
Click here to read the entire article.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Another extension of time granted for filing appellant's opening brief

10/03/2011Extension of time granted  On application of appellant and good cause appearing, it is ordered that the time to serve and file appellant's opening brief is extended to and including November 29, 2011.

This is a jubilant day for Amanda Knox, who has finally received her well-deserved acquittal.  Meredith Kercher was murdered on November 1, 2007; Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were convicted in December 2009.  It took less than 2 years for Amanda's wrongful conviction to be reversed.

Laci Peterson disappeared on December 24, 2002.  Scott was jailed on April 18, 2003, and has remained incarcerated to this day, nearly 8 1/2 years later.  His first appellate brief hasn't even been filed, and won't be filed for at least another 2 months.  The wheels of justice do indeed grind slow in America.  Many people want to speed up executions; I'm sure just as many want to speed up the appeals process so wrongful convictions can be overturned at a much faster pace.  Even when Scott's first appeal brief is filed, it will probably be 4 more years before we see the Court's decision.  That will be 12 1/2 years compared to 2 years for Amanda Knox.  

On the agenda for the US Supreme Court

The Supreme Court convened today:
Among the cases involving criminal defendants is one from an inmate awaiting execution in Alabama who missed a deadline to appeal his death sentence because the big-firm lawyers in New York who had been handling his case for free moved on to new jobs, and letters from the court clerk sat in the firm's mailroom before being returned to sender. 
The case of Cory Maples, convicted 15 years ago in the shooting deaths of two men, presents the question: "How much poor representation can one criminal defendant receive" before it violates the Constitution? said University of Maryland law professor Sherrilyn Ifill. 

Read more:
If you want to read more about the Maples screw-up, go to Simple Justice blog article Sullivan & Cromwell Gets a Seat At The Execution.  The comments are as interesting as the article -- and on both sides of the issue.