Thursday, February 2, 2006
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JUDGMENT DAY… Squid was very excited to see Monterey County’s own judicial princess, THE HONORABLE WENDY DUFFY, on the front page of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS last Thursday with the rest of the SIXTH DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL. Well, kind of excited. The story was the last in a week-long investigative series on the SANTA CLARA COUNTY judicial system: defense attorneys, prosecutors, the superior court bench, and the court of appeal—to which Duffy was appointed just last fall from right here in her chambers in Salinas. But alas, Duffy was too much of a newbie to have made any faux pas yet and be included in the investigation. Maybe next year.
Just as Squid was about to line the bottom of the office bird cage with the spread, a photo buried on Page 12 caught Squid’s one good eye: a serious-looking (and very young) MONTEREY COUNTY JUDGE JONATHAN PHILLIPS. Squid couldn’t help but read on, to see why a Monterey County judge was singled out.
The story stemmed from the trial of LORENZO NUNEZ, who supplied the guns in a notoriously grizzly 1994 Salinas triple murder.
The MERC wrote: “The jury found Nunez guilty of three murders. Phillips said: ‘I can’t recall a murder case where a conviction’s been obtained or supported by any weaker evidence… If I had heard it as a court trial, I might well have come to a different conclusion than the jurors did.’ Soon after, he sentenced Nunez to 40 years to life in prison.”
Squid cringed, as the Merc intended. Forty years? After that speech? Then Squid remembered that whole “trial by jury” thing. The jury found Nunez guilty. Phillips didn’t get to pick. And oh yeah, Phillips doesn’t exactly get to pull that number 40 out of his (cough) robe either. The legislature sets those sentencing guidelines, not Phillips on some random sentencing day.
Squid wouldn’t normally be so knotted up over the story, but Squid had recently heard through the grapevine that the only reason Phillips retired from the bench a few months back in the first place was so he could run against perpetually unchallenged candidate for District Attorney, DEAN FLIPPO.
Squid doesn’t want to see Phillips step into the shadows of retirement in the wake of the half-page Merc spread. Squid used to love seeing Phillips in action. He’s tough. He’s solid. And he’s got a heart. Besides, Squid’s downright excited about the prospect of a viable opponent for Flippo.
Squid’s psyched at the notion of Flippo being forced to set baby-kissing and camera-smiling aside long enough to answer to his record and to colleagues who tell Squid Flippo’s grown flat-out stale in office.
So Squid says this to Phillips: Run, baby, run. Squid will even gas up the Squidmobile and give you a lift to TONY ANCHUNDO’S office. And lend you a little ink to fill out the paperwork.