Originally posted on December 16

The Supreme Court today affirmed the death penalty in People v. Wright for a 2000 murder during a burglary and robbery in Pomona.

The court’s unanimous, seven-justice opinion with a pro tem (see here; compare here) is written by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye.  It rejects the defendant’s assertion that the superior court improperly denied as untimely his motion to represent himself.  The court explains, “Defendant brought this motion two days before the scheduled trial date and conditioned his motion on the grant of a continuance, telling the court that if he did not have time to prepare, he would proceed with counsel.  Further, he could not identify with any degree of precision how much time he thought he would need, opining perhaps a month or maybe two.”  The court also held the superior court didn’t abuse its discretion in denying defendant’s separate motion to get a different lawyer.

As is normal in direct and automatic death penalty appeals where the court cannot narrow the issues, there are a number of other arguments addressed, none of which prevail, including evidentiary, instructional, and prosecutorial misconduct claims.