Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Reader's Rebuttal to George Stimson's Chapter on "Manson and the Law"

In George Stimson's recent book Goodbye Helter Skelter, Stimson includes a chapter entitled "Manson and the Law". This rebuttal has been supplied by a reader. While the reader  disagrees with most of what George says, and believes that his logic and reasoning is flawed, he does credit him for taking a stance and attempting to support his position in a non-confrontational manner.

George Stimson makes several erroneous conclusions. First , and foremost, he takes Charles Manson's word as gospel, that only Manson was capable of telling the truth. What he ignores, is the nature of Manson's various comments, testimony, and storytelling which often conflict with other self-made comments, testimony, and storytelling. Stimson ignores that Manson will often avoid answering direct questions, give ridiculous answers, or simply obfuscates the truth does little to establish Manson's credibility.

Stimson avoids Helter Skelter as even a possible motive that may have been believed by some of the Family. Instead, he relies on stories of possible drug-dealing by others, though no credible evidence has ever been presented. Yet, he wants to ready to accept his version as fact, without allowing for the possibility of anything else. Simply saying that HS was not the motive does not make it viable.

Stimson ignores the jury's decision by making comments such as Manson could very conceivably be found not guilty” ignoring that he could have, and was conceivably found guilty. He states that since there was no testimony that stated Manson gave orders to kill the LaBianca's, Manson could not be guilty. That HS was not a motive, that Manson merely entered a home in which two murders were subsequently committed, and as such, guilt does not apply to Manson. Specious claims such as not knowing the home was occupied, or that a door might not of been locked does not absolve someone of responsibility of guilt, even through a felony murder application. Stimson is good at looking at a penal code, and attempting to apply it, but he fails when he focuses only on a specific code, and that the subsequent or supporting penal codes that apply.  Nor does he acknowledge volumes of case law which support the states' lawful, and accurate prosecution for these crimes.  It is like arguing with a child in which the child hopes that if it keeps giving the same answer, eventually you will give up, and the child will think that they are correct.

In re the argument against conspiracy, we only have Manson's word that he said he would not get involved. There are no corroborative statements given by others.

To state that he was denied a fair and speedy trial is foolish. The hearing dates fell within the prescribed timeline. Because a trial did not start tomorrow, or Monday does not amount to a delay of justice. Filing other charges to hold a defendant is not illegal, no unethical. Manson made various nonsensical claims to the court that brought his ability to defend himself into question. Manson used jailhouse knowledge and tactics to delay his trial, and he was called on those tactics. The fact that he did not like the outcome does not equate to a denial of constitutional rights.

The claims regarding the jury instructions ignore the fact that instructions are submitted to the presiding judge, and both attorneys then agree on the language within each instruction. What Stimson fails to recognize is that the jurors believed that the elements of the crime fit the instructions, and rightfully applied the facts to the law, and came to its conclusion. Stimson simply cannot understand how this could be because it does not fly with his narrative.

Probably the biggest error Stimson makes is his analysis of Bittaker v Enomoto. While he cites Faretta v California, it is obvious he does not understand the entirety of case law or its application. Every case cited is always dependent upon other case law no single case lives in a vacuum. As such, there are nuances, or specifics of other cases that can limit, or minimize the effective of a case. Had Stimson researched more, and had been honest with himself he would not have relied on Bittaker.

What is interesting is if Stimson had researched another California case, Davis v Morris, he would have seen why reliance on the Bittaker decision was not wise. In Davis, which by the way was the very Bruce Davis, the appellant attempted the same claim of constitutional violation by denying the right to pro se representation. In that case, the court held:
.2d 1056 in Petitioner contends that he was unconstitutionally denied the right of self-representation guaranteed him by the United States Constitution and expressly held absolute in Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806, 95 S. Ct. 2525, 45 L. Ed. 2d 562 (1975).

Petitioner was tried in 1972 and so the Court must find Faretta (supra) retroactive before petitioner can receive the benefits of that Supreme Court opinion. The California Supreme Court in People v. McDaniel, 16 Cal.3d 156, 545 P.2d 843, 127 Cal.Rptr. 467 (1976) eschewed the retroactivity of Faretta. This Court finds no reason to disagree with the searching analysis made by Chief Justice Wright writing for a unanimous court in McDaniel.

Petitioner argues that although Faretta may not be held to be retroactive that he is entitled to relief nonetheless because the Ninth Circuit had determined that the right of self-representation was a constitutional right. He relies on Bittaker v. Enomoto, 587 F.2d 400 (9th Cir. 1978) and Walker v. Loggins, 608 F.2d 731 (9th Cir. 1979) to support his contentions. In this regard he reads too much into those decisions. Relying on Arnold v. United States, 414 F.2d 1056 (9th Cir. 1969) and Bayless v. United States, 381 F.2d 67 (9th Cir. 1967) the Court in Bittaker and Loggins (supra) held that a state defendant had a constitutional right to self-representation before the Supreme Court's decision in Faretta. In its reliance on Arnold and Bayless (supra) the Ninth Circuit in Bittaker and Loggins does not clearly define this right as "absolute" and as such California courts were free to make determinations of competing rights of fair trial not addressed to "convenience or efficiency of the trial." Bittaker (supra) at p. 403, but rather to a fundamental concern that defendants undertaking to represent themselves appreciate the seriousness of the charges and present a meaningful defense in cases involving liberty and possibly even death. This case presents the question classically for the trial judge found only superficial understanding of substantial procedures that would seriously compromise petitioner's defense in a capital case. Fair trial rights can have no less importance in the administration of justice than can the right of self-representation now raised to constitutional dimensions of absolutism in Faretta. *fn1"
The trial judge was right. Petitioner's constitutional rights have not been violated by the intervention of Faretta.

The petition is denied.

While Stimson can be recognized as an ardent friend of Manson, his ability to make accurate legal conclusions or analysis is far less. His arguments, while entertaining, would not even get him a passing score on an LSAT.