The Oscar Grant-Johannes Mehserle court saga did not end with Judge Robert Perry’s imposition of a two-year sentence earlier this month. The former BART officer is appealing the involuntary manslaughter verdict handed down to him on November 8th. If Judge Perry believes Mehserle’s appeal stands a chance, he may release the 28-year-old on bail.
Defense attorney Michael Rains will present his argument on Friday. Deputy Alameda District Attorney David Stein will argue against his release.
There seems to be a sense that Mehserle is pushing his luck here, among legal experts and journalists. Stanford law professor Robert Weisberg told the Oakland Tribune he would be “surprised” if Mehserle was released on what Weisberg viewed as a very weak appeal: “At this point, the phrase ‘don’t press your luck’ comes to mind.”
Oakland Tribune columnist Tammerlin Drummond wrote a piece today arguing that Judge Perry handed down a light sentence, and that Mehserle should do his time without further ruffling feathers.
Drummond wrote:”Are we to excuse the actions of police officers — regardless of how egregious — if they later say they made a mistake? What kind of precedent would that set?”
In the most telling quote, Drummond takes the Mehserle family and his supporters (which include law enforcement unions) to task: “Mehserle, nor his supporters, appear to fully comprehend the gravity of his actions.”
If Mehserle is granted bail, it will undoubtedly set off another round of protests in Oakland and necessitate another expensive crowd control deployment of police – something a city with a multimillion dollar deficit cannot afford.