The San Francisco dog mauling case is in the news again. More than 7 years after Diane Whipple was brutally killed, dog owner Marjorie Knoller has been sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. However, her attorney announced that she would appeal. (For the article, click here.)
The story of the Diane Whipple murder case is related in detail on Dog Bite Law. The Whipple section of the site was referred to as the “bible of the trial.”
Whipple’s death cries out for justice, but even at this stage it is painfully obvious that this justice will be at the expense of the law. The California Supreme Court has obliged so far, rewriting the law of second degree murder to accommodate prosecutors. The Superior Court has obliged so far, removing the trial judge who granted Knoller’s first motion for a new trial, replacing him with a judge who heard not a word of testimony but threw the book at Knoller anyway.
However, the most serious issues in the Whipple murder trial have yet to be appealed. When they are, will the need for justice continue to sweep away the need for law?
Don’t get me wrong. Knoller and Noel deserve the worst. Both of them deserve a lifetime in prison for what they did. As a lawyer, however, I cannot help but decry what is being done to the law. I do not see an increase in prosecutions of people as bad as they. I do not see declining numbers of fatal dog attacks, but rising numbers. The Whipple case should be about something more than putting Knoller in prison: it should be about justice and law too. It should be about stopping fatal dog attacks.
But it isn’t. It’s just about putting Knoller in jail for life. And that’s not good enough.