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The big San Diego cash just keeps on coming for Proposition 34, the measure on November's ballot to overturn California's death penalty and replace it with life in prison without parole.

Patrick Coughlin, an attorney with downtown's Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd, gave $20,000 on August 2, according to a disclosure filing posted online today by the California Secretary of State's office. Two of his colleagues at the firm, John Stoia and Patrick Daniels, each contributed $5,000 the same day.

Their firm started life as Lerach Coughlin Stoia and Geller, before its principal, La Jolla super-lawyer Bill Lerach copped a plea in a client kickback case and served a spell in federal prison.

Lerach is now out of stir and living in a lavish oceanfront estate, where he and his wife, lawyer, cupcake store maven, and natural foodie Michelle Ciccarelli, threw a celebrity-packed fundraiser for Prop 34 on July 28.

Attorney Brian Robbins of Rancho Santa Fe contributed $10,000.

Other locals who have earlier given money to the cause include Lerach's ex-wife, lawyer Star Soltan of Rancho Santa Fe, who gave $15,000; lawyer Darren Robbins of Robbins, Geller, with $20,000; and attorney Mary Blasy of Scott & Scott LLP, who kicked in $10,000.

Qualcomm founder and La Jolla billionaire Irwin Jacobs gave $10,000 in April, and on July 5, the San Diego chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union came up with $100,000.

In addition, La Jolla attorney Eric Isaacson of Robbins Geller gave $10,000, and physician Paul Teirstein, chief of cardiology at La Jolla's Scripps Clinic, as well as medical director of the Scripps Prebys Cardiovascular Institute, gave $5,000.

Criminal defense attorney Eugene Iredale contributed the same.

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Visduh Aug. 27, 2012 @ 7:39 p.m.

If this proposition were to accomplish what its proponents claim, it would sharply reduce the time and effort spent on appeals. So, howcom all these lawyers think it is a great concept? They know things we don't know, and that it will create even more billable hours for attorneys, presumably appealing the "no parole" sentences, maybe for decades on end.


SurfPuppy619 Aug. 27, 2012 @ 8:03 p.m.

Visduh, do you know what they are paying the appellate lawyers on these cases??? I believe it is $75 an hour. The GED cops make more than that. If you are a decent lawyer you are not going to work for $75 an hour- because you also have overhead to deal with, take out $50 an hour for overhead and you are down to $25 an hour, less than a DMV clerk makes. Better to do civil rights cases where you can collect full fees on a case if you win, billing at $400-$800 an hour.Even if you only bat 50% you make 10 times what these appellate DP lawyers make.


Visduh Aug. 28, 2012 @ 11:35 a.m.

SurfPup, it is you who has been most eloquent about the vast oversupply of law school grads and that many will never get work as attorneys. Would not many of them be eager to do almost anything, even handling these cases, rather than sit unemployed or underemployed? It's lousy work, but for a time sure beats having no paycheck at all. There's some other hold-up on those cases, methinks.


SurfPuppy619 Aug. 28, 2012 @ 12:29 p.m.

A law school grad with no experience could never in a million years do a DP case-never. In fact when you graduate LS it takes another 3-5 years to ramp up on the procedural issues of law. Seriously, the issues that surround civil and criminal procedure/s is volumous- look at the code books-it is crazy. AND constantly changing. I think it would be a great idea to get a "clinic" going, which they do have with other prisoner issues, but you also have to remember these are death penalty cases, you need a lawyer who is very skilled. ... The answer is to abloshish the DP. It IS justified in many cases, but the problem is the application and implementation of it. It is applied in a capricious and arbitrary manner and the appeals process is cost prohibative.


SurfPuppy619 Aug. 28, 2012 @ 12:32 p.m.

BTW-what most of these law grads should do, the oens that cannot be hired (so many), is start doing civil rights cases where the fees are PAID by the opposing side-if you win. They set that system up so more private lawsyers would take those cases. And when you get a few cases/wins under your belt you can start charging a big hourly rate. You take a big risk and lots of learning by failure, but the pay off is there.


dudleysharp Aug. 29, 2012 @ 6:58 a.m.


Of all endeavors that put innocents at risk, is there one with a better record of sparing innocent lives than the US death penalty? Unlikely.

1) The Death Penalty: Saving More Innocent Lives http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2012/03/death-penalty-saving-more-innocent.html

2) Innocents More At Risk Without Death Penalty http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2012/03/innocents-more-at-risk-without-death.html


dudleysharp Aug. 29, 2012 @ 7:03 a.m.

Response to Absurd California Death Penalty Cost 'Study": A Rebuttal to "Cut This: The Death Penalty"(1) Death Penalty vs Life Costs in California By Dudley Sharp. contact info below

NOTE: Clark is a Calif. ACLU activist and The California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice's (CCFAJ) is a Calif. government commission.

Clark's/CCFAJ's cost review is wildly inaccurate and misleading. I doubt that there is any more veracity to the death row costs than with their lifer cost evaluations. None of Clark/CCFAJ's numbers can be relied upon.

Clark/CCFAJ says: "In total, California's death penalty system costs taxpayers $137 million per year. Contrast that with just $11 million per year if we replace the death penalty with permanent imprisonment."

For 700 inmates, that is:

death penalty costs: $137 million per year or $196,000//inmate/yr.

life imprisonment costs: $11 million/year or $15,700/inmate/yr.

It is complete, utter nonsense.

Some reality:

The last full California audit (Sept 2009) found the average costs, 2007-2008, per adult inmate was $49,000/inmate/yr. (2) In 1997, it was $25,000/inmate/yr. (3).

This $49,000/inmate/yr is the average for all inmates, not the level IV security of death row inmate like criminals that will cost more, if not much more.

Clark/CCFAJ is stating that these enhanced security prisoners will cost $34,000/inmate/yr LESS than the average cost for all Ca inmates. Clark's'SSFAJ's lack of credibility is of an astounding level. Clark's analysis is laughable.

But, Clark/CCFAJ get even worse.

Without the death penalty, Clark/CCFAJ's select group of former death row murderers would likely be in level IV security and, as lifers, would die as geriatric prisoners or from earlier illness, likely costing on average $80,000-$100,000/inmate/yr., or more, with a rare few costing a $1 million or more per year with illness and/or geriatric stages.

Geriatric problems often begins at age 50 for inmates.

NOTE: The California Medical Facility for corrections averages $83,000/inmate/yr. (4). There, likely, would be additional costs when dealing with Level IV security prisoners.

But, for Clark/CCFAJ, former death row inmates, now lifers, cost $15,700/inmate/yr.



dudleysharp Aug. 29, 2012 @ 7:03 a.m.


But, it gets even worse for Clark/CCFAJ.

Clark/CCFAJ will admit, if prodded (5) that "the figure of $137 million estimates the entire cost of the death penalty system, not simply housing, but also inclusive of all post-conviction costs, including legal appeals."

In other words, Clark/CCFAJ is admitting escalating the death penalty costs over the alleged cost comparisons of incarceration between lifers and death row. Not at all surprising Clark/CCFAJ excludes such from the lifer costs.

The Clark/CCFAJ's cost comparisons/evaluations are a very bad joke. Instead of making an honest apples to apples cost comparison, Clark/CCFAJ brings us an apples to Rolls Royce cost comparison, as if it is apples to apples.

Because so many of these cost comparisons are so pathetically unreliable, California considered that an objective assessment by RAND should be considered (6). The basis for a proper evaluation was presented, but Ca rejected doing the study, because . . . it was too expensive!

CONCLUSION - Save even more money?

There is no need for California to have a death row. Current death row prisoners can be placed in Level IV security cells, or lower levels depending upon evaluations, just as Missouri and Kansas do.

California can make their death sentenced inmates cheaper than their lifers, if they properly manage their citizens money, as Virginia does. California must only have the will to be responsible stewards of their citizens resources - something that seems to elude California lawmakers, just as basic, accurate evaluations evade Clark/CCFAJ.

(Later update: Virginia executes, on average, within 7.1 years and has executed 75% of those so sentenced, a protocol that would, on average, be less expensive than comparable LWOP cases).

Today, there is no reason for Ca death row to cost more than level IV security and a proper evaluation would likely show death row cheaper or no more expensive than Level IV.

There would be no cost savings in getting rid of death row, with the exception that, if Calif had a responsible death penalty protocol, there would be many more executed murderers, thus reducing incarceration costs on death row, saving money on incarcerations costs over other level IV prisoners.

(1) An article by James Clark, field organizer, ACLU of Southern California. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-clark/cut-this-the-death-penalt_b_627759.html

(2) pg 77, fiscal year 2007-2008, http://www.bsa.ca.gov/pdfs/reports/2009-107.1.pdf

(3) http://www.bsa.ca.gov/pdfs/reports/97125.pdf

(4) page 80, fiscal year 2007-2008, http://www.bsa.ca.gov/pdfs/reports/2009-107.1.pdf

(5) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-clark/cut-this-the-death-penalt_b_627759.html

(6) "Investigating the Costs of the Death Penalty in California: Insights for Future Data Collection in California, RAND Corp., 2/2008 http://www.rand.org/pubs/testimonies/2008/RAND_CT300.pdf


SurfPuppy619 Aug. 29, 2012 @ 12:58 p.m.

Dudleysharp, STOP spamming the blog with your dumb "cut and past talking points". No one is going to read your book length cut and paste jobs, OK-if we want propaganda we know where to find it.


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