Third-striker at center of sentencing debate is released from prison by L.A. judge


A Los Angeles judge Monday ordered the release of a third-striker serving a life sentence for attempting to break into a church soup kitchen.

The case of Gregory Taylor, 48, who was mentally ill, drug-addicted and homeless when caught trying to pry open the church’s doors with a wooden board 13 years ago, has often been cited as an example of California’s three strikes law leading to disproportionate sentences for relatively minor crimes.

He told arresting officers he was hungry and wanted something to eat. At the time, a priest from the church, where Taylor was a regular and occasionally volunteered, pleaded that a life sentence “would not be just or merciful,” saying Taylor was “a peaceful man” and “a very good person who may have made mistakes.”

Judge Peter Espinoza was ruling on a habeas corpus petition for Taylor’s release filed by two law students as part of a Stanford law clinic devoted to helping three-strikes inmates serving lengthy sentences for minor third offenses.

In the petition, the students contended that Taylor’s public defender failed to adequately investigate mitigating circumstances, including his having been abused and neglected as a child.The trial judge also incorrectly instructed jurors, telling them that if the circumstantial evidence is equal between the defendant’s guilt or innocence, they should vote for guilt — the opposite of what he should have told them, the students wrote.

Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley did not oppose the petition. Cooley repeatedly cited Taylor’s case in his 2000 campaign against his predecessor, Gil Garcetti, who was a champion of the three-strikes law.

— Victoria Kim

Source: LA Now

6 thoughts on “Third-striker at center of sentencing debate is released from prison by L.A. judge

  1. Thanks for this story. Civil rights in CA seem to be trying to peek out from their hiding place and I find that encouraging. We have to get a commission to look into the prison and judicial systems in all the states. I know some people are trying, but most of the country does not understand what has really gone on or that so many are in prison due to injustice. They have attitudes about anyone who is in prison. Most think if someone is in prison they are guilty. They don’t believe PDs are incompetent, underfunded, overworked, or that they threaten people to get them to take pleas. Most people don’t believe judges have their own agendas, but they do. Most people don’t believe prosecutors lie, but they do. Most people don’t know states get paid by the federal government every time they arrest a drug dealer, so lies get told.

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  2. Via @Stanford Three Strikes Project: A great day in court today. Greg Taylor, who had been serving a life sentence for attempting to steal food from a soup kitchen was ordered released! Clinic students Gabriel Martinez and Reiko Rogozen did a tremendous job on Greg’s case, presenting new evidence that convinced the court to reverse Greg’s sentence. Greg has already served over 13 years for his crime. We are very happy for Greg and his family, but we are reminded of all of those who remain behind bars, and we won’t stop working for the thousands who are serving excessive terms for petty crimes.

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  3. What about Lockyer? He got shot down by US Supreme Court after he got 30 years for stealing a golf club.

    What about Andrade who also lost US Sup Ct? He shoplifted Disney videos for his children.

    What about all of them?

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