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Finally, A Convict's Third Strike Is Struck

Publication Date: 
August 17, 2010
Los Angeles Times
Victoria Kim

Lecturer Michael Romano is quoted in the Los Angeles Times on the work of Stanford Law students, who worked with the Stanford Three Strikes Project of the Mills Legal Clinic, to have Gregory Taylor released from prison. Under California's three strikes law, Taylor was sentenced to 25 years to life for breaking into a church. Stanford's Three Strikes Project represents defendants charged under the Three Strikes law with minor, non-violent felonies. Victoria Kim reports:

Gregory Taylor was a homeless man when he was arrested for trying to break into a church. His third strike brought a harsh sentence — but now he's going free, thanks to two Stanford law students.


Gregory Taylor's case was so egregious that an appellate justice likened him to Jean Valjean of Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables," so disconcerting that he became the centerpiece of debate in a district attorney's race, so bewildering that a chapter was devoted to his story in a 2005 book about California's three-strikes law.

Taylor was a 35-year-old homeless man when he was arrested in 1997 for attempting to break into the kitchen of a Catholic church that served the poor, where he was a regular and occasionally volunteered. He told the arresting officer that he was hungry and wanted something to eat. A priest from the church testified in his defense, saying Taylor was welcome there.


Yet until a couple of Stanford law students took up his case earlier this year, Taylor languished in a San Luis Obispo prison with little hope of getting out: He was not eligible for parole until 2022.

On Monday, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ordered Taylor's release, ruling on a petition of habeas corpus filed by the students. The pair were part of a Stanford Law School project devoted to helping three-strikes inmates serving lengthy sentences for minor third offenses. So far, the project has won the release of 14 inmates, said Michael Romano, its director.