The latest dispatches from the Golden State of Lunacy have arrived, and it’s no surprise that the terms “outlandish” and “government” are wedded together yet again.
After all, the state that just ended cash bail is always up to something.
Potentially opening a Pandora’s Box of citizens violating other citizens’ constitutional rights based on nothing but feelings, a bill has passed the state legislature allowing co-workers and school personnel to request restraining orders on the gun rights of people who they feel present a threat. The new law enables the courts to temporarily remove guns from someone who receives a complaint, as well as barring the purchase of new firearms of ammunition for the duration of the ban.
While introducing the bill immediately after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) illustrated how emotion-driven the measure was.
“It just tells people in a workplace environment, if they see something, if they feel something, they can do something about it,” Ting said, “They don’t have to be helpless.”
Moved by the usual hysteria following a highly publicized shooting, Ting obviously gave no consideration to the helpless state a law-abiding citizen would find himself in if a co-worker moved to have his guns confiscated by a judge because the fellow employee felt him to be “angry” or “sullen” or whatever reason an overactive imagination could conjure.
But the idea of losing your gun rights because your cubicle neighbor witnessed your explosion over the latest printer malfunction may have to take a back seat to an even more brazen action: Governor Jerry Brown commuting the sentences of all 748 inmates on death row.
John Phillips at the Orange County Register details how a former state public defender, Quin Denvir, wrote Brown a letter in 2016 urging him to commute all death penalty sentences.
Brown’s office confirmed it had received the letter from Denvir, who helped Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski avoid execution, the Sacramento Bee reported at the time. But, the newspaper noted, the California Constitution did not give the governor power to grant a pardon or commutation to a person “twice convicted of a felony except on recommendation of the Supreme Court, 4 judges concurring.”
“That’s at least half the people on death row,” Michele Hanisee, president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys in Los Angeles County, told Phillips at the OC Register.
And that would seem to have put an end to the matter. Until the California Supreme Court issued an administrative order out of the blue on March 28 clearing the way for Brown “to legally commute the sentences of every inmate on death row,” as Phillips states.
The move seems tailored to enable a lame-duck governor known for his propensity to grant pardons to go on a binge before he leaves office in January. Even so, Brown would be going against the wishes of a majority of California voters, who defeated a measure to overturn the death penalty in 2016 and approved another measure to speed up executions.
The San Jose Mercury News notes that Brown is personally opposed to the death penalty but vowed to carry it out as governor.
He hasn’t commuted a death sentence in 16 years in office.
“But in his 20s,” the paper reports, “Brown joined anti-death penalty protesters singing ‘We Shall Overcome’ outside the gates of San Quentin State Prison as an inmate went to the gas chamber inside.”
The OC Register‘s Phillips sees an orchestrated campaign in the works:
“Brown and his anti-death penalty cronies could very well be in collusion with the California Supreme Court to thwart the will of the people and effectively end the death penalty in the Golden State – something Jerry has been trying to do since his dad was governor back in the 1950s and 1960s.”
It’s just another day in Crazy California.
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