Thursday, May 07, 2009

A tough court's toughest justice

A reader sent this 2006 story about the judge heading the panel that denied my appeal:
Even in a district known for rejecting appeals by criminal defendants, Justice Patricia Bamattre-Manoukian stands apart.

In the history of the 6th District Court of Appeal, no justice has defended convictions more consistently. Bamattre-Manoukian votes for reversal only in about 1 percent of the cases she considers, a Mercury News analysis shows. In the opinions she has written, the reversal rate drops below 1 percent.

Numbers are not all that distinguish her work on the court. Repeatedly, the analysis found, Bamattre-Manoukian wrote opinions that upheld convictions in the face of significant questions of error in the proceedings. More than any other justice on this usually unanimous court, she reached conclusions that her colleagues could not support. ...

''But by God,'' Uelmen added, ''when I'm in that court, I'm saying prayers I don't get assigned to her panel.''

It is not just that Bamattre-Manoukian votes so often for convictions. Repeatedly, her opinions arouse controversy for the way she arrives at her conclusions. ...

Dissents are rare on that court -- in the 16 years she has been a member, only 59 criminal cases involved a dissent. But though Bamattre-Manoukian was a panelist on roughly half the criminal cases decided in that period, she participated in 49 of the dissent cases -- 83 percent of the total.

That is true even though the analysis established that since she joined the court, Bamattre-Manoukian has never dissented from affirming a conviction. But Bamattre-Manoukian has dissented in almost one of every five cases in which panel members voted to reverse the conviction. She wrote dissents in 10 of the 55 reversal opinions in which she participated. No other 6th District justice has dissented from a reversal more than once; most never did so.

In the 2005 case of Dave Bautista, Bamattre-Manoukian offered a dissent that seemed to ignore the facts before her.
Wow. The newspaper documents a bunch of cases where she distorted the law and the facts in order to uphold a conviction and stick someone with a long sentence.

Apparently, I had no chance in her court. My appeal was a big waste of time.

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