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Was Charles Manson Conviction an Abuse of Discretion? Part 1

Updated on April 14, 2016

Charles Manson

Judging persons of the crimes allegedly committed without sufficient pieces of evidence violates such persons’ civic freedoms and rights. The laws, which define all elements of crimes, necessitate justice and impartiality. To attain this fairness, the court judges and the jurors must examine the presented evidence of its relevancy, admissibility, and sufficiency. Without the adequate, pertinent, and satisfactory evidence, the judges and the jury cannot simply indict the suspected criminals. Instead, they require ample time for further deliverance of the case and re-examine the issues and cases. After a thorough investigation, the appellate and the trial court judges and jurors must ascertain the veracity of all the pieces of evidence before they make their conviction. However, if they judge the suspected criminals without the support of the prima facie cases and other corroborative and secondary evidence, then they abuse their discretionary powers to prosecute the unproven criminals. In the case of Charles Manson excluding his followers, the court judges, the prosecutors, and the jurors crucially made the wrong decisions to sentence him to death. Although they only obtained the pieces of circumstantial and testimonial evidence, they should not abuse their discretionary power to rule out justice, indict Charles Manson, and sentence him to death since the burden of proof of the prosecution did not hold any prima facie evidence to forward the case.

As seen on a video, Charles Manson, as one of the notorious criminals in the United States, did not exhibit any sign of remorse upon conspiring and involving in Tate and La Bianca crimes (London, 2013). His arrogant, yet twisted logic and principles carried out doubts whether or not he was psychologically ill. In his interview, he always spoke unpleasantly and did not hold any sign of guilt. He constantly asserted that he did not break the laws and that he never got involved in any of the reported heinous crimes. Because of Susan Atkins’s confession in the penitentiary and Linda Kasabian’s testimony, the police officers arrested Manson. Then, the police officers arrested him for conspiracy theory and for the testimonial evidence (Linder, 2008). Upon his arrest and trial, the prosecutors charged him with the heinous crimes, while the jury did find him guilty of multiple crimes beyond reasonable doubt and faced death sentence. On the contrary, the California abolished the death penalty and the court judge reduced Manson’s sentence and others to life imprisonment. As seen on the video, Charles Manson did not show any remorse or summoned sympathy because he confidently and arrogantly bragged about his actions and crimes (London, 2013). The question now held on the very core of the court judge’s conviction. Could the court judge sentence Charles Manson to death and jail without direct and prima facie evidence? Could the court judges, the jury members, and the police officers as well imprison Manson to death because of unreliable theory of conspiracy? In light of this debate, the court judges and the prosecuting attorneys were not supposed to exploit their discretionary power to accuse Charles Manson for the odious misconducts he never dealt with since the prosecutors failed to establish its sufficient evidence to win the case.

Essentially, the court judges and the prosecutors should consider the bearing of the penalty towards the criminals. They should inspect the nature of the crimes and review the appropriateness of the perpetrators before convicting them death penalty. In the case of Manson, the trial judges should investigate Manson personalities and mental condition. During the issuance of death penalty, Manson might die at his young adult age if the State of California did not abolish capital punishment. The problem then remained unclear how the police officers, the court judges, and the prosecutors explicitly conspired to charge Manson for crimes with insufficient evidence. They must remember that they should serve justice among citizens of the countries within the boundaries of the laws. Incriminating Manson of crimes that he did not personally commit and sentencing him to death penalty were examples of negligence. Such action without proper and consensus deliberations was an abuse of power. They should not send Manson to prison and sentence him to death for an act of insufficiency. They should not incarcerate him to death and extreme isolation because of unreliable theory of conspiracy. What is more, they never considered Manson’s mental condition. In an appropriate stance, the court judges and the prosecutors were unable to perform their duties to establish justice. What was left in Manson’s case was only a reminder that the courts of law in the United States worked differently. Hence, the court adjudicators should set guidelines and policies for them to deal with Manson’s criminal offices and re-investigate the relevance of evidence presented before sanctioning him with death penalty.

Essentially, the government agencies, which were responsible for bringing justice, violated fair trial. For the police officers, they abused their discretionary power by arresting Manson without warrant of arrest. They arrested him due to vandalism, not murder. Without Susan Atkins’ confession in prison, they were blind about the Tate-La Bianca murders. For the prosecutors, they exploited their discretionary powers to charge him with murders without establishing the prima facie evidences (Kane, 1992, p. 6). They were aware of their duties to establish a strong and direct evidence to forward the case and build evidence beyond reasonable doubt. For the jury members, they also mishandled their discretionary powers without considering Manson’s health and mental situations and by finding him guilty beyond reasonable doubt. For the California Department of Corrections (CDC), the department still took advantage of using its discretionary power to house him in solitary confinement and denied his parole even if the agency was ware of Manson’s mental and psychosomatic conditions. The CDC failed to sustain the main purpose of its prison to provide prisoners opportunities for recovery, not torture and solitary confinement. For the court judges, they abused their discretionary powers to sentence him to death without the presentation of direct, real, primary, and prima facie evidence. In fact, the law students could identify the errors of judgment and the abuse of the laws.

Ironically, the arrest of Charles Manson, which was not based on suspicion of the murders, illustrated the court judges’ abuse of discretionary power. The local county sheriffs did not understand the nature of arrest since they only apprehended Manson and his associates for the beliefs that they vandalized a portion of the Death Valley National Park. However, the police officers did not have any idea about the crimes committed by Manson Family until Susan Atkins confessed in the detention cell. When Susan Atkins narrated about the crimes, the police officers and the court judges charged them with murders, the Tate - La Bianca killings (CNN Library, 2013). On the next morning, media interviews and reports considered Manson the most dangerous and scandalous person ever lived in the American society. Because of the testimonial evidence, a majority of the American people condemned Manson’s existence without realizing his real life. According to the descriptions of the prison psychiatrists in a federal penitentiary in McNeil Island, Washington, Charles Manson was mentally impaired and troubled. Additionally, the California Parole Board labelled him paranoid and schizophrenic. Manson’s mental condition made him become eligible of medical or rehabilitative treatment. Looking too closely at Manson’s mental conditions, the police officers, the public prosecutors, and the court judges abused their discretionary powers to indict him for death penalty without considering his mental condition (“Crime Investigation”, 2015). To clarify, Charles Manson was mentally distressed. Instead of indicting him with murders and sanctioning him with death penalty, they should re-examine Manson’s mental illness to be reconsidered for rehabilitation.

Technically, the prosecutors who were lack of understanding of Manson’s individual rearing failed to establish prima facie evidence. The burden of proof that the prosecutors obtained could not build a strong argument against Manson’s criminal indictment. They could not even forward the case since they only held testimonial and circumstantial pieces of evidence. The problem in this case solely lied on the understanding between the prosecutors and the defense attorneys and the failure of the court judges to institute true justice. Since Charles Manson was a career criminal and the court judges had records to verify him his mental and demographic backgrounds, they should offer a new program for his mental recovery. Hence, the court judges and the prosecutors ignored treating Charles Manson to a mental prison.


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    • James September profile image

      Marlon Pagon 2 years ago from Philippines

      Thank you very much.

    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 2 years ago from Auburn, WA

      I'll say one last thing:

      It was a different time. So getting a death sentence was easier. However, the death penalty was appropriate for this guy. His ridiculous parole hearings inflicted more emotional harm on the relatives of the victims, particularly Sharon Tate's sister and now deceased mother. They would often go to represent the families.

      The late Vincent Bugliosi was an brilliant prosecutor and straight as an arrow. Please revisit both his book and his subsequent statements on the case. And also check out the defense attorneys comments since the 70s (I believe all but one of his lawyers are deceased now). Manson got a much better shake than any African American in Los Angeles at the time.

      Stay well.

    • James September profile image

      Marlon Pagon 2 years ago from Philippines

      Thank you for expressing your words. I believe you all have the knowledge about it; however, I think Charles Manson deserves to live in prison, not kill him. The court judges maintain a fair trial. I strongly believe they do. What concerns me the most is that Charles Manson that time was arrested and charged with death penalty for a testimony and a circumstantial evidence alone.

    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 2 years ago from Auburn, WA

      Interesting topic, but I think you need to back and check the facts on this one. Even defense attorneys agree he had a fair trial. You need to list your sources, not just cite them. Read the trial testimony and Bugliosi's book.

      Was Mason mentally ill? Of course. But housing him in a mental institution was unrealistic. We just had a murderer escape at an institution near me. Thankfully, he was caught.

      He was a racist killer bent on even more murders. Plus, he does get a parole hearing every decade.