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Sirhan Sirhan denied parole.--

Sirhan Sirhan, the Palestinian extremist who murdered Robert Kennedy, was again denied parole in California:

A CALIFORNIA parole board has refused to release Sirhan Sirhan, who killed US presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy in 1968, saying the assassin remained a danger to society.

Sirhan opted not to attend today's parole board hearing and did not send anyone to represent him, Tip Kindel of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said.

"Essentially, the board found he continues to be a danger to public safety and is not suitable to parole," Mr Kindel said.

"He was given two opportunities by the panel to show up, and declined."

The board concluded Sirhan killed Kennedy in a "cold, calculated and callous manner" with disregard for the senator and those with him, Mr Kindel said. Psychiatric exam results presented to the board indicated Sirhan "hates Americans and, if released, wants to be involved in Middle East politics". [Tip to Tim Blair]

One of my favorite examples of Chutzpah was Sirhan's statement to the parole board in 1982:

"If Robert Kennedy were alive today, he would not countenance singling me out for this kind of treatment."

I suppose that it is just Sirhan's bad luck that somebody killed Robert Kennedy.

This is a real-world example of the classic plea for mercy: "A boy is on trial for murdering his parents, and he begs of the judge leniency because he is an orphan."

AK (mail):
"Psychiatric exam results presented to the board indicated Sirhan 'hates Americans and, if released, wants to be involved in Middle East politics'."

Why should hatred of Americans (or citizens of any other country) or a desire to be involved in politics, be a consideration for parole?
3.16.2006 11:40am
AnandaG:
Isn't parole partly dependent on the board's assessment of the prisoner's rehabilitation and remorse? Perhaps the board felt that reading between the lines, Sirhan had not displayed either of those things.
3.16.2006 11:44am
ak47pundit (www):
Wow, Sirhan's statement is almost as good as the Boston Globe' magazine's fawning over Ted Kennedy that "If she had lived, Mary Jo Kopechne would be 62 years old. Through his
tireless work as a legislator, Edward Kennedy would have brought comfort to her in her old age."

Amazing what people say when Kennedys are involved.
3.16.2006 12:04pm
Michael B (mail):
"A boy is on trial for murdering his parents, and he begs of the judge leniency because he is an orphan."

Yes, a classic example of chutzpah, presumably fictional with no basis in fact. Or not. Dateline, Lodi, Calif., Wed., March 15, 2006: Man Sues Self. Man bites dog? Yes, but not particularly surprising. h/t M/P
3.16.2006 12:22pm
Jeek:
"Who killed the Kennedys? After all, it was you and me!" - Sirhan Sirhan, at the Parole Board meeting, blowing another shot at parole.
3.16.2006 12:30pm
Mongoose388:
Lets see, an Arab that hates the US and wants to be involved in mid east politics. He's as rational as the rest of them.....
3.16.2006 12:33pm
anonymous coward:
ak47pundit, there is the notable difference that the Boston Globe quote was sarcastic.
3.16.2006 12:51pm
AK (mail):
anonymous coward:

"Sarcastic." Right.

Leftist boob gets caught saying something stupid, raises "I was just kidding" defense. Don't fall for it.
3.16.2006 12:59pm
anonymous coward:
I realize few of us like to credit our ideological opponents with being more than drooling morons, but it's still funny to watch.
3.16.2006 1:12pm
Defending the Indefensible:
Jeek:

Aren't you quoting Mick Jagger?
3.16.2006 1:15pm
Kendall:
Michael B - What is it about the name Lodi that makes people sue themselves? (ok, so in your case its the town, but STILL, the coincidence is amazing to me.)
3.16.2006 1:22pm
The Original TS (mail):
Actually, I believe there are, occasionally, legitimate reasons to effectively sue yourself. Not my area, but I think I recall reading of cases where someone has to sue their own business (of which they are also an employee) in order to trigger an insurance provision.
3.16.2006 1:43pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail):
There are also the occasional parents who negligently injure their child and then sue the insurance company on behalf of the child.
3.16.2006 2:25pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
As Michael B. points out, this is not the "classic example of a plea for mercy," but the self-explanatory definition of chutzpah, going back for centuries.
3.16.2006 2:28pm
Michael B (mail):
Kendall, hmmm, that is an odd coincidence. The final statement in the proceedings is good for a chuckle: "The judgment (order) is affirmed. Each party shall bear his own costs." And in the footnotes it indicates the court suggested the plaintiff/defendant seek an attorney - which means he was representing himself in both roles. Given the four roles in total, perhaps at some point there was a heated exchange over attorney fees?
3.16.2006 2:36pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
What was Sirhan's sentence? Was it life without the possibility of parole? Can someone explain how people receiving such a sentence actually do get paroled? Here's my guess. The parole board asks the governor to commute the sentence, so technically the prisoner is not "paroled."
3.16.2006 2:44pm
Mikeyes (mail):
I remember the first time he came up for parole. Some wag on TV described his introduction to the board as: "My name is Sirhan Sirhan, but you can call me Sirhan."
3.16.2006 2:53pm
James Lindgren (mail):
Michael B. & Greedy,

I, of course, was saying that "This [claim of Sirhan's] is a real-world example of the classic plea for mercy: . . .," which it is.

I was not saying that the classic orphan's plea for mercy was a real-world example of itself: the classic orphan's plea for mercy.

Sorry if the intended antecedent of my pronoun "This" confused anyone.

Jim
3.16.2006 3:15pm
Michael B (mail):
No confusion, merely a careless choice of words on my part.
3.16.2006 3:45pm
The Original TS (mail):
Zarkov,

As I understand it, several years ago, Calfornia switched from an indeterminate sentencing scheme to a determinate sentencing scheme. He was sentenced under the old scheme. A straight "life" term back then meant 7 years, after which you served at the pleasure of the parole board. In other words, you were eligible to get out after 7 years but the parole board could keep you in as long as they liked. It's also possible (I don't know) that Sirhan Sirhan originally got the death penalty. When the Supreme Court temporarily declared the death penalty unconstitutional, everyone got converted to life terms, instead. I think California inmates all got converted to straight life terms so many of them went from facing execution to being paroled. Even Charles Manson comes up for parole regularly. In fact, I believe there are some rather amazing cases where people had their death sentences commuted, got out on parole and went on to live exemplary lives.

Parole boards in California are pretty vestigial now but once upon a time, they were where all the action was. People would get absurd sentances like "2-10 years" and then it was up to the parole boards to, in effect, decide their actual sentences.
3.16.2006 3:54pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Wiki confirms TS's suspicion, to the extent that "Wiki confirms" makes any sense:

Sirhan was convicted and sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted to life in prison in 1972 after the California Supreme Court in its People v. Anderson decision resulted in the invalidation of all pending death sentences imposed in California prior to 1972.
3.16.2006 4:49pm
Enoch:
Does anyone know what role, if any, the governor's office plays in California paroles? The media tried to present it as if Arnie had some sort of "conflict of interest" issue, since he's married to a Kennedy, but I couldn't understand why he'd have any role in the Sirhan parole decision at all.
3.16.2006 5:06pm
Steve Snide (mail):
From what I've read, if the California parole board recommends a prisoner for parole, the Calif. governor (and no one else) can step in and overrule them.

The potential conflict here was because Maria Shriver (Schwarzenegger's wife for those who don't know) is Bobby Kennedy's niece. This really wasn't much of a story because there's no way Sirhan's ever leaving prison alive.
3.16.2006 5:16pm
Not this time! (mail):
From time to time I'm reminded that the parole process is less about the crime and prison experience and more about the infamy of the crime. The example that comes to mind is Leslie Van Houten, one of the Manson family members, whose repeated failure to receive parole after an exemplary record in prison has even raised the eyebrow of the courts.

She was convicted in the La Bianca murders. Not that it makes much difference, but the claim has been she essentially added knife wounds to two dead people.

Of course, if she had had Patty Hearst's lawyers, she would never have been convicted in the first place.
3.17.2006 2:39pm
James Lindgren (mail):
Patty Hearst's lawyers did a terrible job. With competent representation she might have been acquitted, gotten probation, or received a very short sentence.

The lawyers for her abductors actually did a better job for their clients in what for them was an almost impossible case.
3.17.2006 3:09pm
markm (mail):
"What was Sirhan's sentence? Was it life without the possibility of parole?" As far as I know, no state in the USA allowed a sentence of life without parole in 1968. In most states, a jury finding of 1st degree murder would leave the judge or the jury with the options of a death sentence or a life sentence that really wasn't life unless the prisoner really ticked off the parole board. In a few states (Michigan for one), the parolable life sentence was the maximum allowed.

IIRC, one thing driving the addition of life without parole to the menu was an attempt to make death sentence deliberations more fair. If jurors were aware that a life sentence really wasn't a life sentence, they would be likely to consider not only what the defendant deserved for the murder of which he was convicted, but also what other murders he might commit if he was ever released. The death sentence might not work as a deterrent, but when it's actually carried out it certainly prevents recidivism...
3.17.2006 3:43pm
Not this time! (mail):
James: You're absolutely right of course. I mis-remembered my facts. Perhaps I should have said "If she had Hearst's family wealth and political contacts..."

Hearst's 1976 sentence (an outcome of the poor defense of which you speak) was commuted by President Carter in 1979, and later she was pardoned by President Clinton just before he left office in 2001.
3.17.2006 5:13pm
lee (mail):
T.S.
Yes some have been parolled and went on to live exemplary lifes. Some didn't. Robert Lee Massie murdered a woman during a burglary in 1965. He was sentenced to death, but California dithered about and he was still alive in 1972 when death sentences(arbitrary and capricious you know) were changed to life w/ possibility of parole. Parolled in 1978
he killled a liquor store owner in an armed robbery and again was sentenced to death. He was executed a few years back, but only because he refused further appeals. Otherwise he would still be being housed and fed by California taxpayers.
3.18.2006 2:22am