Patterico's Pontifications

2/7/2010

Judge: Time for New Hearings in 30-Year-Old Death Penalty Case

Filed under: Crime — Patterico @ 11:27 am



The crime happened in 1979, when I was 11 years old. The victim was 15 years old — and would now be 46 years old.

And yet a federal judge says we haven’t scrutinized this one thoroughly enough:

Few of the nearly 700 inmates on California’s death row have awaited execution longer than Santa Clara County’s Marvin Pete Walker Jr. . . . Last week, a federal judge ordered new hearings into Walker’s case, concluding that he has raised enough doubt about the effectiveness of the lawyer who defended him in his 1980 trial that there must be a thorough inquiry into whether his murder conviction and death sentence were tainted.

. . . .

Among other things, the judge wants a hearing to explore whether trial lawyer Dennis Kollenborn failed to fully investigate whether Walker’s accomplice could have been the actual shooter; did not put on a meaningful defense during the penalty phase of the trial; and failed to object to Walker being shackled during the trial, which could have prejudiced jurors.

Let the lengthy proceedings begin!

Via Howard Bashman.

24 Responses to “Judge: Time for New Hearings in 30-Year-Old Death Penalty Case”

  1. whether Walker did it or his accomplice actually pulled the trigger doesn’t matter. murder is murder.

    what meaningful defense is there during the penalty phase? the only “meaningful” question was “did he kill or participate in killing the victim?”

    since the answer to that is “yes”, who gives a damn what the excuse was or how bad his childhood was? this wasn’t self defense. this wasn’t accidental, so what the hell is the judge’s problem?

    it’s this sort of BS that makes me laugh every time i hear a judge referred to as “honorable”. there is little in the system that is “honorable” and nothing about this case comes close.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  2. He now has lived almost 3 times longer than his victim was at the time of her murder. If that ain’t a complete travesty of justice, then color me pissed-off purple. The fucker’ shoulda had a cap busted on his ass long ago.

    peedoffamerican (cadcec)

  3. One good thing about abolishing the death penalty altogether would be that the family could hire another prisoner to kill the killer, without either having to face the death penalty themselves.

    nk (db4a41)

  4. Strange. 30 years later, we are going to use today’s process rather than the process in effect at the time. Further, we are going to see if the process was “tainted” and presumably, if it were, the judge would order a new trial which would have no chance of actually happening.

    I believe it is time for an appeal or maybe impeachment proceeding. We really do need to impeach a few judges to instill a sense of responsibility in the reaming judges.

    Rick Caird (0ceb78)

  5. Oops my bad. He has lived twice as long as his victim was old. Mistook 11 for Patterico’s age as the actual 15 for the victim.

    peedoffamerican (cadcec)

  6. This is a full employment for judges decision. Obviously, we need more left wing judges so we can drag these things out forever. Who appointed this clown ?

    Mike K (2cf494)

  7. I disagree with the commenters that attack this decision on the grounds that the reasons given are irrelevant. When deciding whether or not to impose the death penalty on someone, it does matter to the jury whether the defendant is the one who actually pulled the trigger, or if he is up on the charge because of the felony murder rule. It is up to the jury to weigh those facts, and it is a real problem if they don’t have them. Same with the penalty phase; the failure of the lawyer to even try to offer any mitigation is, as a general rule, incompetent.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean that these issues should be saved for 30 years before they are addressed.

    Anon Y. Mous (944012)

  8. Well, mouse, you are wrong. A lot of states have capital murder laws that give the death penalty to accomplices of a crime. In Texas for example, the wheel man for a robbery can be tried for capital murder and be sentenced to death if his partner kills the victim.

    peedoffamerican (cadcec)

  9. Saundra Brown Armstrong

    appointed by Bush Sr. ,Mike.

    peedoffamerican (cadcec)

  10. It’s a three-part process. Whether the defendant is guilty of capital murder; whether there are aggravating factors sufficient to impose the death penalty; whether there are mitigating factors sufficient to decline imposition of the death penalty.

    nk (db4a41)

  11. Mitigating factors like, “I am a poor abused orphling that ain’t gots no money?”

    peedoffamerican (cadcec)

  12. What’s the going rate these days?
    They don’t allow smoking anymore, so cartons of Marlboro’s are out.
    Five bowls of Frosted Flakes and some pudding cups?

    Going to grade school through jr hi with someone who is now a big time legacy leader in a motorcycle club works well too.
    It might even be almost free.
    Great referrals for “criminal attorneys” and bail bondsmen are an added bonus..

    (just kidding. friends or not, nothing is free)

    SteveG (909b57)

  13. “Mitigating factors” are anything that the jury believes them to be. Under Lockett v. Ohio, 438 U.S. 586, 608 (1978)(plurality opinion), and its progeny, mitigating factors can’t be limited to a list prescribed by the state. Instead, “[to] meet constitutional requirements, a death penalty statute must not preclude consideration of relevant mitigating factors.” What’s “relevant,” in turn, is anything that might reasonably tend to influence the decision-maker against imposing the death penalty.

    So yes, that a defendant was poor, or abused, or an orphan would all be relevant and could all be considered by the jury as mitigating factors. Whether those factors are sufficient to outweigh the aggravating factors (which, by sharp contrast, must be limited to those specified by the state’s death penalty statute), is committed to the discretion of the jury.

    (I say “jury,” but the more accurate term is “fact-finder,” which could include the judge in a trial in which the defendant has waived his or her right to a jury.)

    My subjective but reasonably well informed impression is that few juries give much weight to mere poverty or status as an orphan; “abuse” might be a different story, depending on the circumstances. I retain a lot of respect for the collective wisdom of such juries in most cases.

    Beldar (4c9788)

  14. Comment by peedoffamerican — 2/7/2010 @ 1:13 pm

    Dollar to a Do-nut, her name was submitted to the WH by Alan Cranston.

    This $hithead should have had his time in the gas-chamber years ago; but, thanks to the “enlightenment” of the 9th-Circuit, he is still with us for our “amusement”.

    “…whether trial lawyer Dennis Kollenborn failed to fully investigate whether Walker’s accomplice could have been the actual shooter…probably a public-defender and didn’t have the budget to do anything more than ask around…; did not put on a meaningful defense during the penalty phase of the trial…forgot to invoke the “Geraldine Defense”, which is known to sway jurors when deciding whether or not the convicted defendent should be executed or not…; and failed to object to Walker being shackled during the trial…perhaps he was shackled because he had threatened his lawyer or others in the court-room in the presence of the Judge & jury (if the jury had witnessed an extreme outburst, his subsequent shackling wouldn’t seem to be as prejudicial as his own acts.

    BTW, has this Judge’s order been appealed, or will it be?

    AD - RtR/OS! (f9cda3)

  15. I’d be interesting in reading Judge Armstrong’s opinion, if anyone can find it online. (I couldn’t find it at the ND-Cal website.)

    (Alas, I’m not quite interested enough to incur the Westlaw charges that would accrue were I to go outside my pre-paid library, which doesn’t include federal district court decisions from states other than Texas.)

    Beldar (4c9788)

  16. […] here to read the rest: Judge: Time for New Hearings in 30-Year-Old Death Penalty Case […]

    Judge: Time for New Hearings in 30-Year-Old Death Penalty Case | Liberal Whoppers (d16888)

  17. We really do need to impeach a few judges to instill a sense of responsibility in the reaming judges.

    Hmmmm…reaming judges. Now there’s a concept.

    navyvet (e4db05)

  18. After a few reamings, we’ll find out who’s remaining.

    AD - RtR/OS! (f9cda3)

  19. There is no blackguard with heart so vile, that some judge somewhere doesn’t value his life far above that of his victim or victims.

    Kevin R.C. O'Brien (82fba3)

  20. Well, mouse, you are wrong. A lot of states have capital murder laws that give the death penalty to accomplices of a crime. In Texas for example, the wheel man for a robbery can be tried for capital murder and be sentenced to death if his partner kills the victim.

    You are arguing against straw men. What I said was that the jury should have the facts when they make their decision. They get to decide if they want to give the death penalty to the defendant, based on the facts. Denying them the facts is denying them the ability to make the decision they are obligated to make.

    Anon Y. Mous (4d55c2)

  21. Either abolish the death penalty or administer it more efficiently. One of the arguments in favor of having a death penalty is the deterrent effect on others. Well, if it takes 30 years to carry out the sentence the deterrent effect is lost. I’ve long advocated that we should streamline the appeals process. Have the trial. If the crook is guilty award a sentence the next week. Sentence is carried out immediately. If a capital sentence (death penalty) then a three judge panel does a quick review and then carry out the sentence. Entire process should not last more than two weeks.

    Largebill (1d1579)

  22. Well, mouse, you are wrong. A lot of states have capital murder laws that give the death penalty to accomplices of a crime. In Texas for example, the wheel man for a robbery can be tried for capital murder and be sentenced to death if his partner kills the victim.

    How would that apply to rape?

    If a man rapes a girl, she gets pregnant, and dies from complications due to pregnancy or childbirth, would he be guilty of capital murder?

    Michael Ejercito (526413)

  23. Comment by Michael Ejercito — 2/8/2010 @ 11:14 am

    Got to think there is a precedent on this somewhere.

    AD - RtR/OS! (cc3695)

  24. Michael,

    Most states have a time factor built into their laws dealing with how long after the act was comitted. If I remember correctly, Texas has a 180 day period after the assault was comitted. Now whether if some other states have longer periods of time, I don’t know. Also, most likely if they do, it would have to be filed by the DA, and then see how it would fly in the appeals process.

    peedoffamerican (cadcec)


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