Thursday, July 12, 2001
State Supreme Court Bars Rosenkrantz Release Pending Appeal
From staff and wire service reports
The state Supreme Court yesterday ordered that convicted murderer Robert Rosenkrantz remain in prison pending appellate review of a Los Angeles Superior Court order granting him parole.
The order extends a stay the high court granted on June 22 at the request of Attorney General Bill Lockyer, a day after Judge Paul Gutman ordered Rosenkrantz’s immediate release. Gutman ruled that Gov. Gray Davis was keeping Rosenkrantz locked up under an unlawful blanket policy of denying parole to murderers.
Rosenkrantz, now 34, is serving a 15-year-to-life sentence for second-degree murder in the June 28, 1985, shooting death of Steven Redman, a former Calabasas High School classmate who exposed him as a homosexual.
This district’s Court of Appeal denied a stay, so the state petitioned the Supreme Court.
In yesterday’s order the justices transferred the Court of Appeal case to their court, formally granted the request for stay, and returned the case to this district’s Div. One.
Rosenkrantz’s lawyer, Donald Specter, said his client was disappointed with the decision.
“It’s bad news in the sense that he’ll stay in prison while the appeal is pending, but it’s good that the Supreme Court sent it back to the appeals court that is very familiar with the case,” Specter said.
Div. One previously affirmed a ruling by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathryne M. Stoltz ruled that there was no evidence to support the Board of Prison Terms’ finding that Rosenkrantz’s release would endanger the public.
Since taking office in 1999, Davis has reversed the state Board of Prison Terms on 47 of 48 cases in which it granted parole to murders. The one exception was for Rose Ann Parker, who shot her abusive boyfriend in 1986 after he threatened to kill her and her son.
She was released in December.
Rosenkrantz obtained a release date based on Stoltz’s 1999 ruling, but Davis rejected parole last October. The governor then had Stoltz removed from the case under Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 170.6.
The governor has the power to veto parole dates, but the state Constitution limits that power, requiring among other things that the chief executive confine his decision to the record considered by the parole board. Rosenkrantz’s lawyers argued that the veto in his case violated those provisions, as well as state and federal due process considerations.
The stay order was signed by four justices—Chief Justice Ronald M. George and Justices Marvin Baxter, Kathryn Werdegar, and Ming Chin. Justice Joyce L. Kennard did not sign and Justice Janice Rogers Brown recused herself.
No reasons were given for the recusal of Brown, who dealt with parole and clemency matters while serving as legal affairs secretary to then-Gov. Pete Wilson from 1991 to 1994.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company