Wednesday, April 23, 2003
Rosenkrantz Counsel Vows Habeas Corpus Bid After U.S. Supreme Court Setback
From Staff and Wire Service Reports
Convicted murderer Robert Rosenkrantz, who was denied parole by Gov. Gray Davis and lost his bid to have the U.S. Supreme Court consider his case, will ask a federal court to hear the matter, one of his lawyers said yesterday.
“I’m disappointed that the Supreme Court decided not to hear the case at this juncture,” Rowan Klein said. “We were hoping that they would take the case.”
Rosenkrantz is serving a 17-year-to-life prison term for the June 28, 1985, assault weapon shooting death of Steven Redman, a fellow Calabasas High graduate who disclosed to the killer’s father, Calabasas attorney Herbert Rosenkrantz, that Robert Rosenkrantz is gay.
Rosenkrantz’s legal team, which includes Klein, a Los Angeles sole practitioner, and attorneys from the Prison Law Office at San Quentin, will be filing a habeas corpus petition in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, asking that he be released “on the grounds that there’s no evidence to keep him in prison,” Klein said.
Deputy Attorney General Rob Wilson could not be reached for comment on the high court’s decision not to hear the case.
In December of last year, the California Supreme Court ruled that the governor’s decision to deny Rosenkrantz parole was “supported by some evidence in the record,” and that neither the state nor the federal Constitution requires more than that.
“Nothing in the governor’s decision indicates that he failed to afford [Rosenkrantz] individualized consideration of all relevant factors, or that the governor’s determination was based upon a blanket policy of denying parole to all individuals convicted of murder,” Chief Justice Ronald M. George wrote for the court.
Lower courts held that Gov. Gray Davis had violated Proposition 89, the 1988 amendment establishing the governor’s veto power over parole suitability determinations of the Board of Prison Terms. But George said the lower courts had overstated the scope of judicial review of the governor’s parole decisions.
The chief justice also rejected the argument that Proposition 89 is an ex post facto law as applied to those, such as Rosenkrantz, who were convicted before the measure was enacted. The amendment, he reasoned, did not lengthen sentences but merely altered responsibility for the decision on release.
Justice Ming Chin, joined by Justice Joyce L. Kennard, dissented with regard to the ex post facto issue. Noting that Proposition 89 has been used in an overwhelming number of cases, the justice concluded that it is a roadblock to parole that cannot be applied retroactively.
Rosenkrantz has, by all accounts, been a model prisoner, studying computers and receiving several offers of post-release employment. But his efforts at rehabilitation were outweighed, the governor said, by the brutal nature of the crime, the planning involved, and the helplessness of the victim, whom Rosenkrantz continued to shoot as he lay on the ground.
The case has been politically charged almost from the moment Rosenkrantz became eligible for parole seven years ago. Gay activists, backed by then-Assemblywoman Carol Migden, D-San Francisco, Senate President Pro Tem John Burton, D-San Francisco, and Sen. John Vasconcellos, D-Santa Clara, lobbied for Rosenkrantz’s release.
On the other hand, District Attorney Steve Cooley charged that predecessor Gil Garcetti’s decision—on which he later reversed himself—not to oppose parole was based on political considerations. Klein in turn told reporters that Garcetti changed his position because he was in a tough race for re-election, which he ultimately lost to Cooley.
The judge who sentenced Rosenkrantz, James Albracht—who has since retired—supported parole and joined with Jewish and Catholic groups that filed an amicus brief in his behalf.
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company