Everyone knows that California trials are “different” from those in Texas. Appeals, at least in certain cases are quite different too. The fact that Scott Peterson’s case arrived in the Supreme Court in March of 2005, but was not decided until Aug. 24, 2020 is one thing that caught my attention.
So, I decided to trace the progress of the case, which gave me a new perspective on appellate delay. I am aware of some Texas appeals that have taken up to 7 or 8 years for resolution, but I doubt any Texas appeal has taken 15 years.
The record on appeal in Peterson’s case was not initially filed until Jan. of 2007. Counsel was not appointed for Peterson until July of 2009. After nine requests for extensions of time to file the Appellant’s Brief, it was actually filed slightly ahead of time. The last extension was until Aug. 1, 2012; it was filed on July 5. The initial deadline for it to be filed had been Jan. 31, 2011. The brief was 427 pages long. The record was more than 50,000 pages. The State’s brief was not due to be filed until May 21, 2015. It was filed early on Jan. 21, 2015. It was 475 pages long. Peterson’s Reply Brief was due on March 27, but that was extended first to May 26 and then to July 27, 2015.
The case was finally submitted upon oral argument to the court on June 2, 2020. The opinion has some interesting issues, especially a change of venue question like one that will be upcoming in a certain Minnesota case, and my favorite, a “don’t rock the boat” issue. Even so, it is hard to imagine why it took so long to be concluded. But, the court was apparently quite familiar with issues before submission, as the time period between submission and disposition was (on the surface) remarkably short.
I did not really look, but I am guessing there may have been significant changes in the makeup of the court during the years. I did learn that the court is one of the few that does not sit in the state capital (the Supreme Court of Maine is also one of those).
A reversal of the guilty verdict in Peterson’s case might have caused some real problems for the State. As it came out, I am guessing the Attorney General will determine to abandon the request for a death sentence, but I guess the case may take a trip to Washington, D.C. first (although I doubt Peterson will be entitled to appointed counsel). But, he has had plenty of time to work on his own pet. for cert.
It's because that is a feature, not a bug, of the California DP system. It is purposely designed to not work.
One has to wonder why they even bother.
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