9th Circuit, Alex Kozinski, Benchslaps, Crime, Death Penalty, Deaths, Federal Judges, Murder, Police, SCOTUS, State Judges, Supreme Court

Reverse Benchslap of the Day: Arizona Attorney General Predicts SCOTUS Smackdown of Ninth Circuit

Debra Milke

We will be appealing this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the Court takes the appeal, I will argue it personally as I have done in two previous cases over the past five months. In my last case, the Supreme Court accepted my argument and overruled the Ninth Circuit’s decision unanimously.

— Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, commenting on the Ninth Circuit’s grant of federal habeas relief to Debra Milke, who has been on Arizona’s death row for 22 years.

(Why is Milke sometimes called the “Arizona sister” of Casey Anthony? Keep reading….)

Here is the second part of Attorney General Thomas Horne’s statement:

In this case, Ms. Milke was found to have arranged the killing of her own son, a four-year-old toddler, because he was too much of a burden and interfering with her life. After dressing him up and telling him he was going to the mall to see Santa Claus, Milke was convicted of sending her young son off to be shot, execution style, in a desert wash.

This is a horrible crime. The Ninth Circuit’s decision needs to be reversed, and justice for Christopher needs to be served.

One can see why Milke is sometimes referred to as Casey Anthony’s Arizona “sister.” But unlike Casey Anthony, Milke got convicted and has been on death row for more than two decades — hardly a Bella Vita.

Like the Casey Anthony case, the Debra Milke trial featured some colorful characters. Take Judge Cheryl Hendrix, the Arizona state court judge who got benchslapped by the Ninth Circuit. Check out this 1991 article about her:

A Phoenix courtroom became a concert hall last week as a young violinist was allowed to play before lawyers, spectators and a captive audience of prisoners who sat shackled together in a jury box.

Judge CHERYL HENDRIX of Maricopa County Superior Court said that the solo by the son of her courtroom clerk was intended to relieve stress and provide entertainment, but some lawyers groused about the show.

The attorneys gave high marks for the quality of the 15-minute performance but said they believed it was totally inappropriate for a courtroom.

“I think it’s offensive that a court can either be an auditorium or a courtroom, depending upon the judge’s mood,” said one lawyer who requested that his name not be published because he makes frequent appearances before HENDRIX. “It was like the Gong Show.”

He conceded, however, that it was a terrific performance. “I was really quite moved,” he said. “He played his heart out.”

In case you’re wondering, the piece ran in the Arizona Republic, not The Onion.

Here is what Judge Hendrix had to say for herself. In short, she felt she deserved a break that day:

“I had worked exceedingly hard all week long,” HENDRIX said.

Cue the world’s — or at least Arizona’s — smallest violin.

Statement by Attorney General Tom Horne: “Milke Case will be Appealed” [Attorney General of Arizona]
Casey Anthony’s Arizona “Sister” Deborah Milke Still on Death Row [Phoenix New Times]

Earlier: Benchslap of the Day: Kozinski & Co. Overturn a Murder Conviction

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