Long ago, I wrote about the outrageous injustice against Harold Fish, a retired school teacher who, while hiking, shot and killed a man (a man, by the way, with a history of aggressive behavior) who threatened to kill him, and would not stop charging him. Incredibly, Fish was convicted of murder.
To compound the injustice, while Mr. Fish's case was pending, Stand Your Ground legislation was passed in Arizona, thus lifting the burden of proof of self-defense from the accused, and placing it with the prosecution, where it belongs (unless we have given up on the idea of innocence pending proof of guilt). However, a superior court judge refused to apply the new law retroactively to Mr. Fish's case.
It seemed that Mr. Fish (now in prison, having begun his ten-year sentence in August 2006) would finally get a reprieve when the Arizona legislature passed SB 1302, which would make the Stand Your Ground Law retroactive. Opponents of this measure justified their opposition in various ways:
The Arizona Prosecuting Attorney Advisory Council said making the change retroactive could affect numerous cases and that the impact of the bill was greater than the goal of the current legislation.Well, there you have it--apparently, justice is sometimes simply too expensive, and not convenient enough, to bother with.
Rep. Steve Gallardo, a Phoenix Democrat who voted against the bill, said it would lead to costly retrials and re-victimize victims by forcing them to testify again in court. "It will open old wounds," he said.
Tragically, Governor Napolitano must have thought so, too--because she vetoed SB 1302.
Fast forward to this month, and a new, more narrowly crafted bill. SB 1166, as amended (the main text of the bill deals with jury duty--it is an amendment that affects the self-defense law), would do much the same thing as SB 1302, but would only extend back to cases that were pending in April 2006 (Harold Fish's might be the only one). SB 1166 narrowly failed on the first vote last week, but was reconsidered, and narrowly passed yesterday.
Now, it needs to go back to the Senate, for a vote on concurrence with the self-defense amendment.
If that passes, perhaps Governor Napolitano will be willing to deal with the inconvenience of justice.