Thursday, April 29, 2004
Clemency Urged for Woman Who Faced Life Term in $30 Theft
State Supreme Court Votes 5-1 to Recommend That Governor Commute Sentence
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer/Appellate Courts
A Vista woman—who once faced life imprisonment for stealing a $30 toolbox, had her third-strike sentence overturned on appeal, and was released following a plea bargain only to be ordered to return to prison for 65 days because of a ruling that her term had been miscalculated—should be granted clemency, the state high court said yesterday.
California Supreme Court
justices voted 5-1 to recommend that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger commute Pamela
C. Martinez’s sentence to time served.
George and Justices Marvin Baxter, Ming Chin, Joyce L. Kennard, and Carlos Moreno voted to recommend cutting the sentence. Justice Janice Rogers Brown voted against, and Justice Kathryn M. Werdegar was absent from the weekly conference and did not vote.
The high court’s action
was a successful culmination of an effort by friends and supporters of
Rarely Invoked Provision
The Board of Prison Terms recommended the commutation, and Schwarzenegger submitted the matter to the Supreme Court. The governor has the final word on pardons and commutations, but a rarely invoked provision of the state Constitution requires a recommendation from the high court before a thrice-convicted felon receives clemency from the chief executive.
She was sentenced to 25 years to life as a third-strike offender. But this district’s Court of Appeal ruled that she had received ineffective assistance of counsel and sent the case back for retrial.
Earlier Court Ruling
The justices ruled 5-2
for the prosecution—Brown wrote the opinion, Kennard and Werdegar dissented—in In
re Martinez (2001) 30
Since sentencing credits
are more liberal for detainees than sentenced prisoners,
Her co-workers at a Home
Depot store in
In submitting the
clemency petition to the high court, Schwarzenegger said it was pointless to
In other action at the conference, the justices:
•Set oral arguments May
The court granted review in two cases, brought by Lockyer and the Alliance Defense Fund—a conservative group opposing gay marriage—to determine whether city officials may take actions prohibited by state law, based on a belief that the law is unconstitutional but in the absence of a court ruling to that effect.
The justices earlier this month asked the parties to brief two additional issues—whether the roughly 4,000 marriages performed before the court imposed a halt pending its review should be nullified, and if so, whether the fees of $82 per license paid by the couples must be refunded.
The cases are Lockyer v. San Francisco, S122923, and Lewis v. Alfaro, S122865.
•Agreed to decide whether, under Apprendi v. New Jersey (2000) 530 U.S. 466, a criminal defendant has a federal constitutional right to a jury trial on factual issues relating to the circumstances and conduct underlying a prior conviction used to enhance punishment. The First District Court of Appeal’s Div. Five answered that question in the affirmative in People v. McGee, A097749.
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company