Saturday, January 26, 2013

California Supreme Court overturns the Death Penalty in 1972.

The People of the State of California v. Robert Page Anderson

Apparently, on April 8, 1965, Mr Anderson took a bus to trade a diamond ring at a pawnshop. 

"What happened inside, and the four hours of fierce gun battle that ensued, went down as the most dramatic police operation in San Diego history at that time. One man was killed, two others wounded. More than 1,000 rounds of ammunition were fired. A newspaperman at the scene suffered a heart attack and died. A man trapped in the two-story structure eventually lost his eyesight from the tear gas tossed by police through the bullet-shattered windows."- The Los Angles Times. 

Here is a link to that article:

The California Supreme Court took up the issue of Mr. Anderson's death sentence. 
After several hearings and trials the California Supreme Court overturned the death sentences of every prisoner on death row in 1972, and commuted their sentences to "life in prison". 

These included Charles Manson, Sirhan Sirhan, and over 100 others.  One issue the court considered was the phrasing of various documents.   The US Constitution uses the phrase "cruel AND unusual punishment", while the California Constitution says "cruel OR unusual punishment".

This decision was later overruled by California Proposition 17, later in 1972.  It was not retro-active however.  Mr. Anderson's sentence was commuted, he was paroled in 1976 and moved to Seattle, he later said  "I wish I never got off that bus."

The following vid is from the movie "I Want To Live".  Apparently, it's Hollywood's version of the execution of Barbara Graham in the gas chamber.
Finally, the gas chamber at San Quentin has apparently been modified to administer lethal injections:


LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Am I interpreting this correctly?

Am I to understand, that the death penalty was overturned AND subsequently re-instated... all in the same year?!

I mean...

I knew the death penalty was overturned (of course)... but, I wasn't aware that the decision was only in effect for a few months.

All I can say is:
Charles Manson (and Company) REALLY got lucky.
Talk about a freakin' loophole.

Ol' Charlie (and associates) just happened to be sitting on death row during the few short months in 1972, when the law was briefly altered... and their commuted sentences were "grandfathered"... even though the law was (again) reversed almost overnight.

I always just assumed that California's 1972 decision to commute all death sentences (to life), was in effect for at least a few years.

Lucky Bastards...

It sounds to me, like the abolition of the death penalty for a portion of 1972, was a direct knee-jerk reaction to the Anderson situation, which they quickly regretted.

I'm not really a big fan of the death penalty... but, I'm also not a fan of "knee-jerk laws".
We see this, all the time:
Someone named Susan dies a horrible death... and suddenly, we have 2 dozen politician's trying to pad their own agenda by passing "Susan's law".

Thanks Sunset.
Interesting stuff.

beauders said...

maybe charlie's magical ways helped to change the law or maybe he is jesus and satan.

katie8753 said...

And maybe he muddied the waters. Maybe he's not sure what he is. He's half-God half-man. Maybe he's a goatman or a centaur.

If he was Jesus or Satan he'd be out by now, selling used cars instead out cleaning slop buckets and making insects out of his socks.

katie8753 said...

Sorry Beauders, nothing against you. I'm just upset about something else, which has nothing to do with you.

The Supreme Court of CA overturned the death penalty and reinstated it in the same year?

Must have pissed Doris off. Would have pissed me off too.

I hope no one thinks I copied that from their website. That would be ludicrous.

It seems that I can't say anything anymore unless someone comes out of the woodwork and says I copied it.

This is getting to be bullshit.

Night for now.

DebS said...

California did not reinstate the death penalty in 1972 the same year they recinded it. It was not reinstated until Aug. 11, 1977.

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Hi DebS.

It's still confusing.
I followed the link, and it says:

February 18, 1972
California Supreme Court declares the death penalty cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the state constitution. 107 inmates are taken off death row and resentenced. A similar decision is rendered in 1976 and 68 inmates are resentenced.

Why would a similar decision need to be rendered in 1976, if the law was not reversed until 1977?

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Consigliere Dilligaf?
Any input?

MrPoirot said...

Anderson was the name the powers that be used to fool us. The real reason the DP was overturned was that Nixon said Manson was guilty. Nothing can drive a Lefty into insanity qyicker that the simple pronunciation of the name NIXON. The Left goes berzerk over his name even today. The Left could not let (in their mind) Nixon kill Manson. Yes Manson was a cold blooded killer but he was also the leader of the counterculture. He also believed in all the radical platform ideologys of the Left. Yea he scratched a swastika on his head but nobodty is perfect.

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

It seems the People v. Anderson decision of Feb. 17, 1972 was indeed over-turned on November 7th, 1972, by Proposition 17

Proposition 17 of 1972 was a measure enacted by California voters to reintroduce the death penalty in that state.

The California Supreme Court had ruled on February 17, 1972, that capital punishment was contrary to the state constitution.

Proposition 17 amended the Constitution of California in order to overturn that decision.
It was submitted to a referendum by means of the initiative process, and approved by voters on November 7,1972.

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

"The Anderson decision caused all capital sentences in the state of California to be commuted to life in prison.

Notably, it is because of this decision that Charles Manson avoided execution following his conviction and resulting death sentence for the "Tate-LaBianca" murders in 1969. Sirhan Sirhan also had his death sentence for the assassination of Robert Kennedy commuted to life in prison.

Later in 1972, the people of California amended the state constitution by initiative process, superseding the court ruling and reinstating the death penalty.

Rather than simply switch to the federal "cruel and unusual" standard, the amendment, called Proposition 17, kept the "cruel or unusual" standard, but followed it with a clause expressly declaring the death penalty to be neither cruel nor unusual".

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

•February 17, 1972 - The California Supreme Court abolishes the death penalty on the grounds that it's contrary to the state's Constitution and constitutes 'cruel and unusual punishment.' The sentences of Manson and his followers are commuted to life imprisonment.

•November 7, 1972 - Under Proposition 17, California voters reintroduce the death penalty by amending the state's Constitution.

•1976 - The Supreme Court of California holds that the state's capital punishment statute is unconstitutional as it did not permit a defendant to enter mitigating evidence. Sixty-eight prisoners have their sentences commuted to 'life.'

1977 - The legislature re-enacts the death penalty.

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

1972 – California Supreme Court declares death penalty unconstitutional. 107 condemned prisoners resentenced. California voters pass Proposition 17, an initiative that amends the California Constitution to provide that the death penalty is not cruel or unusual punishment.

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

February 17, 1972: The CA Supreme Court rules in California v. Anderson that capital punishment is impermissible cruel and unusual punishment as it degraded and dehumanized the parties involved. It held that the penalty is “unnecessary to any legitimate goal of the state and [is] incompatible with the dignity of man and the judicial process”. This leads to 107 sentences being commuted to life without parole, including Charles Manson and Sirhan Sirhan, Robert Kennedy’s assassin.

June 29, 1972: The US Supreme Court rules 5-4 in Georgia v. Furman that the arbitrary and inconsistent manner in which the death penalty was applied (citing, in particular, racial and geographic disparities) violated the 8th and 14th Amendments and constituted cruel and unusual punishment. This causes a de facto moratorium on capital punishment. throughout the United States

November 7, 1972: Proposition 17 passes, beginning the process of superseding the Anderson ruling by amending the state constitution to reinstate the death penalty. Rather than switch to the federal “cruel and unusual” standard, the amendment keeps California’s “cruel or unusual” standard, but includes a clause expressly declaring the death penalty to be neither.

DebS said...

Here's a link to the CA state government site on the issue. It explains in more detail.

Basically the whole deal was hung up in appeals with both the CA Supreme Court and the US Supreme Court for those years between 1972 and 1977, so it was never a done deal until all the haggling was finished.

MrPoirot said...

There was no way the Left was going to let Nixon execute the world's most famous hippie.

MrPoirot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Hi DebS.

The law clearly flip-flopped several times over a period of five years.
But, I'm interested in 1972 specifically.

The fact remains, that Charles Manson and friends benefited from that brief period of time (February 17, 1972 - November 7, 1972) during which, the law was decidedly in their favor.
That was my point... and I'm absolutely correct.

The period between 'People v Anderson' and 'Proposition 17', was their golden ticket.

The death penalty was overturned on February 17th, 1972... and re-instated that November 7th.
Your own source states that fact.

What exactly is your point?

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

I'm closing the thread now, as Katie is making inappropriate comments.

I apologize to everyone, for the inconcenience.

We can re-convene tomorrow.

Everyone have a good night.

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Pouring over this one last time, I’ve arrived at the following conclusion:

In February of 1972, 107 inmates were taken off death row and resentenced.
Manson and friends were part of this group.
That window of opportunity (‘People v. Anderson’) lasted 9 months.

The next lucky group, was four years later in 1976... when a similar decision is rendered and 68 more lucky inmates land a commuted sentence.

I’m not sure how long folks typically sit on death row, but Manson (and friends) would have had to survive 4 years, to make the second lucky date in 1976.

But having said all that…

Deb’s source states:
“For 25 years after 1967, there were no executions in California due to various State and United States Supreme Court decisions“.

It seems the laws kept flip-flopping to the extent, that no one was executed (in California) for a quarter of a century… regardless of their sentence.
Every convict ultimately survived a “death sentence” (one way, or another) from 1967-1992.

My assumption:
This is likely due to the appeals process.
It takes so long to complete the appeals process (and arrive at an execution date)… you need laws in place consistently, for an extended period (likely years) to accomplish an execution.
With the laws constantly changing and in-flux, the process is never completed (and the execution never carried-out).

It kinda becomes apples and oranges.
Do you thank your lucky stars for the specific court decision responsible for your survival?
Or, do you thank the turbulent legal climate collectively? (which spanned 25 years)

No matter how you slice it, these folks got damn lucky.

How long was the typical appeals process back in those days?
Exactly how close was Manson to execution at the time of "People v Anderson"? Years? Months? Weeks? Days? Hard to say? (LOL)

sunset77 said...

Thanx for the post Lynyrd.

I didn't research the "when" of the death penalty being overturned in CA as much as a should have and I apologize that you had to do it.

I looked this up because I was interested in the "why" the death penalty was overturned. I never really found an adequate answer to that either, other than the dispute over the wording of various documents.

One website says that as of October 1, 2012, there were 724 inmates on death row in CA. I assume they are awaiting execution.

The inherent "unfairness" of the system is one of the reasons I started looking up the Manson case in the first place.

Anderson committed his crime in 1965 and received a death sentence. By 1976 he was released from prison. Charles Watson was involved in the brutal murder of a number of people, his death sentence was "commuted" and he still sits in prison to this day.

Other people are in fact executed for similar crimes.

Brian Davis said...

Lynyrd wrote, "Charles Manson (and Company) REALLY got lucky..."

Or was it luck ? Maybe by design. hmmmm.

Doc Sierra said...

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

I'm not really a big fan of the death penalty... but, I'm also not a fan of "knee-jerk laws".
We see this, all the time:
Someone named Susan dies a horrible death... and suddenly, we have 2 dozen politician's trying to pad their own agenda by passing "Susan's law".
My thoughts exactly. Very well said.

maudes harold said...


Between your comment on Manson 'smoking in bed' and the "making insects out of his socks" comment, I have learned that I should not drink soda while reading your posts--it ends up thru my nose!!

Thank you for a few, much needed out loud laughs!!

CarolMR said...

"I'm not really a big fan of the death penalty... but, I'm also not a fan of "knee-jerk laws".
We see this, all the time:
Someone named Susan dies a horrible death... and suddenly, we have 2 dozen politician's trying to pad their own agenda by passing "Susan's law"."- Lynyrd

That's why wanting to pass such strict and useless gun control laws so soon after the Newtown massacre is a ridiculous idea.

katie8753 said...

>>>La De La said: Thank you for a few, much needed out loud laughs!!>>>

You're welcome! :)

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Honest to goodness Carol, when I heard about the massacre, my first thought was:

"If only the teachers had guns that day, more kids would have survived".

I think gun control can be a good thing.

But the problem is that, "the bad guys" are gonna get guns, anyway.
If they want guns bad enough, they'll get them.

The only one's who will be denied guns by these laws, are the law-abiding folks.

As one popular bumper sticker in my state read:
"If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns".

I can't help but feel, that's there's several ounces of truth, to that (bumper sticker) sentiment.

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Sunset said:
"I didn't research the "when" of the death penalty being overturned in CA as much as a should have and I apologize that you had to do it.
I looked this up because I was interested in the "why" the death penalty was overturned. I never really found an adequate answer to that either, other than the dispute over the wording of various documents".

Hi Sunset.
What we had here, was a giant pissing contest between the California Supreme Court... the California politicians... and the Feds.

Here we go:

In 1972, the California Supreme Court aboilshed the death penalty (with "Anderson").

Later in 1972, politicians squashed "Anderson" with a ballot question (Prop 17).

In 1973, the Feds (United States Supreme Court) held that the death penalty was unconstitutional as it was being administered at that time in a number of states.

Later in 1973, politicans passed California legislation, which made the death penalty mandatory in certain cases under certain conditions.

In 1976,the California Supreme Court fired back by declaring the death penalty unconstitutional.

In 1977, the politician's return fire with legislation to re-instate the death penalty.

A giant cluster-fuck of interest groups.

So you see...

Although the Death Penalty was in-fact "LAW OF THE LAND" for periods of time in California... you could never complete a single execution, with all this flip-flopping.

By the time an inmate waited his turn on death row (and exhausted his appeals)... the law would change again!
No execution.

And there you have it... the whole situation... the timeline... (and part of the "why")... in a nutshell.

Politicans and lawyers...

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

This legal and political cluster-fuck, reminds me of a famous scene from the movie "Platoon":

In the movie... the politicians and "top brass" kept making crazy unnecessary changes.
Upon hearing of (yet another) cumbersome policy change... one of the foot soldiers exclaims:
"It's like trying to fight a war, with one hand tied around your balls"


LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

Or, as a good friend of mine used to say:
"Paralysis by Analysis"

So true.
When you keep reviewing things, you end-up standing still.

MrPoirot said...

The California supreme court at that time had become so subversive that it outlawed the DP for one man because they became sympatico with the street corner musings of Charlie's angels. The California supreme court became a revolutionary band of malcontents spewing radical jailhouse nihilism. Charlie in effect became the Supreme court because the state supreme court became Charlie.

katie8753 said...

Wow I've never seen Lynyrd post so much on one thread. He must have had a lot to say about this. LOL.

CarolMR said...

"But the problem is that, "the bad guys" are gonna get guns, anyway.
If they want guns bad enough, they'll get them." - Lynyrd

How true. And the bad guys will find other ways to go on killing rampages. Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people in Oklahoma City and never needed one gun.

MrPoirot said...

How can you be in charge of the safety of 600 school kids and yet you dont even have a can of pepper spray to protect them with?

katie8753 said...

Okay my opinion about guns is that if you outlaw them, then only the outlaws will have them. Right Lynyrd!

If you make something against the law, it doesn't keep people from buying it. It just makes it a little harder to get it and more expensive.

I think they should do background checks on folks in every state to check for mental instability and prior brushes with the law.

But even that isn't going to stop it.

Just remember....for every bad thing that happens...two good things happen.

Okay I'm tard. G'night Jugdish! :)

LynyrdSkynyrdBand said...

DebS shared the following PDF file with me (via email), in regards to the death penalty issue.

The document is quite comprehensive.

After reading it, I can confidently summarize this whole California Death Penalty situation, with the following statement:

In a nutshell.... from the late 1960's through the early 1990's in California... the public and politicians were heavily in favor of capital punishment... while the Courts, both State and Federal, were strongly opposed.

That struggle persisted for over two decades.
The politicians and public, kept passing Pro Death Penalty laws... and the courts (both state and federal) thwarted their efforts around every turn (with abolition laws).

The Pro Death Penalty laws were in place so temporarily, and moreover, were so effectively undermined by the courts, they became (for all intents and purposes) worthless.
The Pro Death Penalty laws became "defacto" at best.
Or, as Deb expressed it... things were "in flux".

MrPoirot said...

California was a hotbed for revolutionaries. The legislative branch of government had run renegade on the people. You had Charlie who was a revolutionary and the high courts that were revoltionary. It's not much of a stretch to see why the high court rescued Charlie from the DP. Their goals were the same.

Some pretty desctructive ideas came out of the 60s and still are alive today. The antiwar movement became the antiamerican movement. Kill the pigs became tax the rich.

louis365 said...

Word is...Charlie is throwing a party this weekend, and he's even invited the BUG!

katie8753 said...

As liberal as California seems to be, it's amazing that a jury found Scott Peterson guilty of killing his wife and baby and was given the death penalty, even though there was no evidence of how and when he killed them. They based it more or less on his lies, deceit and actions after the killings.

Yet in Florida a jury set Casey Anthony free, and didn't consider her lies, deceit and actions right after the murder.

BTW, check this out. That beezatch is still trying to wiggle off the hook. She forgot to mention to the IRS that she got $200,000 for selling pictures of her dead baby girl. Guilty of murder or not, you don't stiff the IRS. LOL.

Anonymous said...

You are totaly right CarolMr, too bad people are not paying attention, just like right after 911 when they changed the search and seizure laws releiving officers of that whole probable cause burden, The goverment is using these highly public incidences to slowly but surely strip away the bill of rights.
The actualy law changes will have no effect on what they 'say' they are trying to accomplish. I don't think one single media outlet reported about last weeks Republican sponsored bill, passed overwelmingly by House and Senate that was signed into law by Obama giving the Goverment absolute right to track, obtain and keep indefitnetly information on American Citizens. I guess Charlie has it easy in one way, he doesn't have to worry about his rights

beauders said...

california has the death penalty but they rarely use it. there are inmates who have been on death row since 1980. they are going to die of old age and the crimes these people have committed are just unbelievable. look up douglas clark and lawrence bittaker if you're curious. these two played bridge with two other serial killers (randy kraft and bill bonin) until they killed bonin. these men are subhuman and if they were just given life the other inmates would have got rid of them a long time ago. said...

Agreed, the death penalty isn't harsh enough in their cases. They deserve their own sick medicine