Economics of the Death Penalty

I’m a capital habeas attorney. I was very interested in your article (“Capital Intensive,” May 15, 2019) as I felt like I’d been hit by two trucks after the 2016 election (the other being Trump, of course). But we all really thought that Prop 62 would pass.

Now I am living and working under Proposition 66. Per Prop. 66, one of my cases was transferred back to the superior court (in Sacramento County) and now I’m being paid to relitigate the same issues in the lower courts, and then work my way up again. In short, I will be paid twice for much of the same work, but with weird twists that will make it more expensive.

I’m also convinced that the opposition to eliminating the death penalty is really economically driven by the DAs. They don’t account for how much of their budget goes to capital cases from what I can see, but I am willing to bet they heavily rely on them to justify hefty budgets. So many of the death penalty cases come out a few counties, Riverside, Kern, San Bernardino, Sacramento, etc. that don’t have all that much money to spare but do have conservative populations.

I’ve been doing criminal defense work for 40 years in Sonoma County (I started here in the DA’s office). Much of all of it is economically driven—I just think we should be upfront about what it really costs both in dollar and human terms, to make more intelligent decisions. I see signs of progress, but a long way to go. I really hope you don’t stop with that article but continue to explore this area.


Our Lumps

I don’t know, Bohemian, I’m just not feeling you the way I used to. I’m not on the same page with your reviewers in the May 15-21 edition. The Netflix “Wine Country” romp that pleased your reviewer left me cold. Stopped watching when I didn’t find myself amused, let alone laughing. Not my people, not my humor. Pretty scenery, of course. And, I’m “At Odds” with Harry Duke about “This Random World.” I love Left Edge Theatre! I love their boldness in bringing different kinds of plays to us, the design of the small, tidy, attractive venue itself. I can sit anywhere and have an intimate experience. As for the play? I did laugh, I did get caught up in the random misses and I thought the ending was just fine. It left me in a very contemplative mood on Mother’s Day. I recommend it highly.


Whine Country

I forced myself to watch 23 minutes of “Wine Country” (“Lost Weekend,” May 15, 2019) hoping it would get better. I bailed at that point. What a vacuous, boring, self-indulgent, inane movie. Don’t waste your time on it. Thank God I don’t have shallow friends like the ones depicted in this time-waster. And the script is beyond awful.


Some movies are dogs, but his one is even worse, an ugly stinky mutt of a movie. Bad screen writing combine with characters that are shallow and stupid and you have it: a really really awful movie that does not warrant watching.


It should be titled “Whine Country.” Disappointing.


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