Debra J. Saunders

 I talked to Justice George on Wednesday, and he told me that he is not happy with the standard five-year delay but that he refuses to appoint "warm bodies" to appeal cases because shoddy work by lawyers only ends up costing everyone. George added that he plans on asking Gov. Schwarzenegger to fund three more positions to speed up the process.

 When he took office, the Governator promised to shake up Sacramento. This would be a good place to start. Making the death penalty work has a law-and-order cachet. It's no nonsense. It would even would help inmates with a righteous appeal so they wouldn't have to wait years to make their case before an appellate judge.

 When the San Mateo County jury found Peterson guilty last month, many scolds were happy to dismiss the people who cheered the verdict as an out-of-control lynch mob. I won't defend the crowd's response, which was boorish. Worse, it fed the anti-death-penalty crowd's conceit that folks are their side are civilized and sophisticated, while death-penalty supporters are barbaric and uncouth.

 Count me in with the pitchfork crowd. I didn't cheer the guilty verdict, but I did respond with a sigh of relief.

 And I know it will be followed by years of waiting for the system to work. I'll be watching death-penalty opponents, who aren't content to persuade voters as to the rightness of their cause. Instead, they resort to any means necessary to undermine a punishment supported by voters, upheld by courts and determined by juries of citizens who sacrificed their time and energy.

 To support spending hundreds of thousands of dollars (of other people's money) on appeals that you know are downright laughable -- that's sophistication. I bow in admiration.

Debra J. Saunders

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