Friday, June 22, 2001
Gutman Orders Rosenkrantz Freed; Davis Moves to Block Release
From staff and wire service reports
Convicted killer Robert Rosenkrantz was ordered freed immediately yesterday by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Paul Gutman, but Gov. Gray Davis quickly moved to try to block the action in the Court of Appeal.
In a 25-page ruling, Gutman said Davis had an “unlawful” no-parole policy for convicted murderers and wrote that Rosenkrantz is “being confined beyond his lawfully set parole date of March 30, 2000,” and should be “released from custody on parole forthwith.”
“The request of the governor and the warden for a stay of this order is denied,” the judge said.
Barry Goode, legal affairs secretary for Davis, denied that there was any no-parole policy.
“The court’s statement today that Mr. Rosenkrantz ‘was denied an individualized determination of his suitability for parole’ and that the Governor has a ‘no parole’ policy is, with all due respect, wrong,” Goode said in a statement. “Governor Davis gives each case careful scrutiny. He determines each on its own merits and will continue to do so.”
Nathan Barankin of Attorney General Bill Lockyer’s office said lawyers were working on trying to get the release order blocked right away.
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.
Rosenkrantz was 18 and had just from graduated high school when he shot Redman 10 times with an assault weapon.
The assault came after Redman and Rosenkrantz’s brother had broken into the Rosenkrantz family beach house, caught Rosenkrantz with another man, and assaulted him while yelling anti-gay epithets.
Prosecutors, who charged Rosenkrantz with first degree murder, said he waited all night in his car for Redman to come out of his Malibu condo. He then threatened to kill Redman unless he told Rosenkrantz’s father—Calabasas attorney Herbert Rosenkrantz—that the claim that Robert Rosenkrantz was gay was really a joke, and shot him after Redman allegedly laughed.
Rosenkrantz has, by all accounts, been a model prisoner, studying computers and receiving several offers of post-release employment.
He obtained a release date after Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathryne M. Stoltz ruled there was no evidence to support the Board of Prison Terms’ finding that Rosenkrantz’s release would endanger the public. But Davis vetoed the date, citing 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.
Earlier this year, the California Council of Churches, the Board of Rabbis of Northern California, and the California Province of the Society of Jesus—the Roman Catholic order commonly known as the Jesuits—argued in the brief filed in Los Angeles Superior Court that the governor has a “no parole” policy, that the policy violates the state and federal constitutions, and that the policy is the only thing blocking Rosenkrantz from being released.
Rosenkrantz sought a writ of habeas corpus to force his release on parole. Davis used a peremptory challenge under Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 170.6 to remove Stoltz from the case.
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 board. Rosenkrantz’s lawyers argued that the veto in his case violated those provisions, as well as state and federal due process considerations.
The state Department of Corrections received Gutman’s order, said Terry Thornton of the prison agency.
“At this point in time, we’re reviewing court documents,” Thornton said.
But one of Rosenkrantz’s lawyers, Donald Specter, said early on, “We expect Robert to be released immediately. That’s what the order says.”
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company