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Another Attempt to Have a Victim's Suit Thrown Out Fails

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We continue to make small gains in the ability of victims of crime to have their voices heard in cases affecting the criminal justice system.  On March 12, I noted that the California Court of Appeal had rejected the attempt of the California Department of Corrections to throw out the suit of two victims' families to force it to adopt a lethal injection protocol.

Meanwhile, back in federal court, the fight continues over the attempt to squelch the federal "fast track" on capital habeas cases, the never-implemented major reform of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.  Since USDoJ is not interested in fighting this as vigorously or expeditiously as is needed, I moved to intervene on behalf of Marc Klaas, the father of a murdered little girl.  Unsurprisingly, the other side's favorite district judge rejected the intervention motion, so I filed an appeal from that order plus a protective appeal from the injunction on the merits of the case. 

The capital defense lawyers, being represented contra bono publico* by the Orrick firm, moved to have the merits appeal dismissed before briefing.  Today the appellate commissioner denied that motion.  On its face, the denial is "without prejudice to renewing the arguments in the briefs," but since the whole point is to preclude the briefing, that is a win for the good guys.
* Pro bono publico is Latin meaning literally "for the public good."  Traditionally, a lawyer taking a case "pro bono" meant he was taking it without a fee on behalf of a person unable to pay.  This term has also come to be used in other professions as well.

The plaintiffs in this case are taxpayer-funded government entities with large staffs of lawyers.  They are suing on their own behalf, not on behalf of their death row clients.  They could represent themselves, but Orrick, Herrington, and Sutcliff is representing them for free.  Why?  Is blocking a key reform of a landmark law "for the public good"?  Is making the families of victims of the most horrible murders wait additional years, or perhaps decades, for justice in cases where there is no question whatever of guilt of the perpetrator "for the public good"?

Not in my book.  Orrick's work in this case is contra bono publico.

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