Supreme Court Rules Unconstitutional California's Sentencing
"Debi Zuver & Tanya Brannan at CCWF"
a key ruling in late January, the U.S. Supreme Court struck
down some 10,000 California prison sentences as unconstitutional.
Among those struck down is Debi Zuver's 21-year sentence for
manslaughter. Zuver shot and killed her abusive partner, Kim
Garloff, on Thanksgiving night, 2000. Immediately before the
shooting, Garloff had beaten and threatened to kill her.
sentencing guidelines provide for an maximum, mid-line and minimum
sentence term for each crime. In Cunningham v. California,
the Supreme Court laid down the final word on those sentencing
guidelines, requiring that any sentence above the mid-line term
must be based on facts proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
was not tried by a jury but, after pleading guilty to manslaughter,
was sentenced to the maximum (11 years) for manslaughter, and
the maximum (10 years) for use of a gun in the homicide. The
enhanced sentence was based primarily on the recommendations
in a pre-sentencing probation report and not on facts proven
beyond a reasonable doubt.
of the sentence began almost immediately, and it has taken until
now to exhaust all her state court remedies and move her appeal
into federal court. One of the key points of her appeal is this
issue of the constitutionality of her sentence. Her appeal,
among thousands of others, has been pending awaiting the Supreme
Court's decision on this issue in Cunningham.
we have no indication from the Court as to how these appeals
will be resolved. The Court has a number of options, including
scheduling new sentencing hearings for all 10,000 defendants,
or just rolling all the sentences back to the mid-line. If the
final result is a mid-line sentence, Debi would be freed in
2009. (Currently she's slated to serve until 2018.)
This will be a tense (and expensive) time for Debi as she prepares
to respond to the Court's decision in her case. She is gathering
recommendations and testimonials from officials and groups who
have worked with her in prison and getting the record ready
for the Court's review.
that would impress the Court favorably would be to see that
she has paid off her restitution, some $4,000 she was ordered
to pay to Garloff's family. Only $700 of that remains to be
paid, and we want to retire that debt before the federal court
looks at her case. The prison takes 33% of all funds deposited
on Debi's books and applies that to the restitution.
are committed to raising the $2,100 it will take to retire Debi's
restitution debt and provide the funds she'll need to get through
these next months. You can contribute in any of three ways:
1. On the net, at www.jpay.com.
Then choose California Prison system; and when prompted enter
her name (Debi Zuver) and ID# (W93142). Jpay charges a fee of
about $2, but the money will be deposited on her books immediately.
Show on the face of the money order and mail to:
Debi Zuver #W93142
PO Box 1504
Chowchilla, CA 93610-1508
a check to Purple Berets.
Note "Zuver" in the memo section and mail to:
PO Box 3064
Santa Rosa, CA 95402
been the primary source of support for Debi throughout the seven
years of her incarceration. This is a moment where that support
can have a huge impact on her future. Please don't let her down.