Reckless Indifference

Editor's Pick for October 3, 2006
Brian Burns, Hampden-Sydney Coll. Lib., VA -- Library Journal, 10/03/2006

Reckless Indifference. Color. 94 min. William Gazecki Distributed by Choices, Inc., 421 S. Beverly Dr., 5th fl., Beverly Hills, CA 90212
310-203-0606; 2006. DVD ISBN 1-933724-04-8. $19.95. LAW

California's felony/murder rule states that if a death occurs while a perpetrator is in the act of committing certain felonies (including robbery), that death is to be ruled murder in the first degree and carries a minimum penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole for all participants regardless of their level of participation. Reckless Indifference focuses on one particular case and raises endless questions: Was there actually an attempted felony? What role did the deceased victim's father (an LAPD officer) play in the investigation and prosecution? Was the surviving victim's testimony reliable in light of his immunity deal against further prosecution on drug charges? Should all five of the defendants be tried under these conditions or only the one who admitted to the stabbing? Ultimately, is there justice when the felony/murder rule is applied in a case where youths get into a fight over marijuana and one accidental death occurs as it will in a case where someone is shot and killed in a well-planned bank robbery? With all of this said, the film is definitely slanted in favor of the defense and paints the victims as almost equally culpable; an objective viewing will undoubtedly elicit opposing questions. Still, this intense documentary will leave one wondering whether Lady Justice should remove her blindfold and take a careful look at some of the laws of our land and how they are carried out. Highly recommended.