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death penalty news----NEV., CALIF., ORE.
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Rick Halperin
2017-08-25 14:30:58 UTC
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August 25



NEVADA:

Man convicted of killing wife, hit-man on his way to death row



Thomas Randolph is on his way to Nevada's death row. He was convicted in June
of murdering his wife for insurance money and killing the man he hired to shoot
her.

During Wednesday's sentencing, Randolph made a rambling statement to the judge,
and the daughter of Randolph's slain wife spoke in favor of the death penalty.

"I was 5 months pregnant when Randolph killed my mom, and now my daughter
Katie, who is almost 9, has never met her nana," said Coleen Beyer.

Randolph is expected to pursue an appeal to his sentence. During the trial, he
alleged legal malpractice by his attorneys.

(source: KSNV news)








CALIFORNIA:

California death penalty fight shifts to execution method



Supporters of capital punishment in California claimed victory after the state
Supreme Court upheld a voter-approved measure to speed up death sentences, but
they still have to clear a major obstacle before executions can resume: Getting
approval for a new lethal injection method.

The next step in that fight is expected on Friday, when state corrections
officials say they will seek regulatory approval for a revised drug protocol to
execute inmates.

The new regulations would allow California's death row inmates to be executed
using 1 of 2 different drugs or choose the gas chamber.

The revised proposal would follow a highly anticipated California Supreme Court
ruling on Thursday about Proposition 66, a push to "mend not end" capital
punishment in California by tightening rules on court appeals by inmates.

Condemned inmates in California currently languish for decades and are more
likely to die of natural causes than from lethal injection. There are nearly
750 inmates on death row, and only 13 have been executed since 1978 - the last
in 2006.

Nearly 400 death penalty appeals are pending.

In its ruling, the state Supreme Court unanimously upheld the mandate in
Proposition 66 that lower-level courts hear some appeals and reject those that
are not filed on time.

It also upheld provisions in the measure limiting successive appeals and filing
extensions.

But with 2 of the 7 justices dissenting, the state Supreme Court said a 5-year
deadline on appeals by condemned inmates in the measure was advisory, not
mandatory - a point that supporters of the measure had conceded during oral
arguments.

With the timeline provision limited, it was not clear whether the measure would
succeed in accelerating death sentences, said Robert Weisberg, a criminal
justice expert at Stanford Law School.

"Various people in the judicial system might say, 'I feel an obligation to move
these cases faster,' " he said.

But without a mandate, Weisberg said, others might view the deadline as
"meaningless, and therefore nothing may change."

Proposition 66 also ends the requirement that prison officials receive approval
from state regulators for their new lethal injection plan. The fight over the
drug procedure has been a significant obstacle to resuming the death penalty.

Officials, however, said they would still submit the revised regulations to the
state Office of Administrative Law and follow the normal regulatory process
until the justices' decision becomes final, which could happen as soon as late
next month.

Corrections officials would choose between the powerful barbiturates
pentobarbital or thiopental for each execution, depending on which one is
available.

They initially proposed using any 1 of 4 drugs, but they dropped two of them
after opponents said those drugs had never been used in executions and
questioned whether the drugs would be safe and effective.

A federal judge in 2006 ordered changes to the state's lethal injection
procedures, but said California could resume executions if it began using a
single drug.

The new rules eventually will have to pass the scrutiny of a federal judge
before they can be implemented.

(source: Associated Press)

*****************

Death Penalty Backers Celebrate California Supreme Court Decision



He's one of the authors of Proposition 66, the voter-approved measure to speed
up executions in California, and Kent Scheidegger of the Criminal Justice Legal
Foundation is celebrating a new victory.

"We will be seeing a resumption of execution in less than a year," he said.

The California Supreme Court upheld the law he wrote, which was on hold while
considering a challenge attempting to overturn it. It was filed by the same
opponents behind the competing measure to repeal death penalty.

We interviewed Ron Briggs during his hard fought campaign.

"Eliminate the death penalty... replace it with life without the possibility of
parole...throw them in prison for rest of life...throw away the key," said
Briggs.

But 51 % of California voters voted to "mend, not end the death penalty,"
limiting repetitive appeals that keep inmates on death row for decades.

"We can bring things down from 25 down to 10," said Scheidegger

10 years is how long it'll take for death row inmate to be executed.

But Scheidegger says there are about 20 inmates who have already exhausted
their appeals, making them ready for executions in less than a year.

"It's immoral. The state should not be killing people," said state Sen. Scott
Weiner (D-San Francisco).

Weiner says executions may soon resume, but so will the fight to get rid of
capital punishment in California.

"I think we will eventually repeal the death penalty. We came very close last
year, and we have to keep trying," he said.

(source: CBS News)

*****************

How justices' ruling shows death penalty law shouldn't be decided by initiative



The California Supreme Court's decision upholding a profoundly flawed 2016
initiative that promises to speed executions made clear how badly the death
penalty twists and perverts the criminal justice system.

The justices illustrated once more why complex legal questions should not be
decided by initiative. Hot button issue though it is, the death penalty, or at
least the law governing it, simply cannot be fully explained in brief campaign
spots.

There won't be an execution this year, and perhaps not next year. But the
ruling ensures that the death penalty will be an issue in the 2018 race to
replace Gov. Jerry Brown.

Unfortunately, voters last November narrowly approved Proposition 66, a measure
that supposedly will speed executions, and rejected Proposition 62, which would
have abolished capital punishment.

The Sacramento Bee editorial board, which long had supported the death penalty,
reversed that stand in 2012, though not out of sympathy for killers. People who
commit the most heinous crimes should die in prison.

But capital punishment is unworkable and anachronistic. Executions may provide
some solace to the survivors of murder victims, though unnatural deaths of
loved ones leave holes that can never be filled. The death penalty is neither
an efficient punishment, nor is it the deterrent that some supporters claim it
to be. Directly and indirectly, much of that was reflected in the Supreme
Court's 5-2 ruling issued Thursday.

Writing for the majority, Justice Carol Corrigan upheld the measure in general
but struck down a core part of Proposition 66, the provision requiring that the
state Supreme Court decide capital cases within 5 years.

As it is, cases often are not decided for a decade or more, for good reasons.
The majority held that the initiative's 5-year standard was aspirational, not a
command. A hard deadline "would undermine the court's authority as a separate
branch of government."

In a concurring opinion joined by 3 justices, Justice Goodwin Liu underscored
the complexities of death cases: Appellate lawyers are hard to find. Once
they're retained, lawyers must meticulously pick through trial records that run
5,000 pages or more, plus exhibits. Written briefs in capital cases run 300 to
500 pages and commonly raise 30 or 40 claims. A single case can dominate a
lawyer's practice for more than a decade.

"Proposition 66 does not increase the availability of appellate and habeas
attorneys, beyond requiring this court to compel certain criminal appellate
attorneys to take death penalty appeals against their will," Liu wrote. "It is
unclear how effective this strategy will be in light of the shrinking and
graying pool of private appellate attorneys."

Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuellar dissented, writing that the Yes-on-66 claim
about the 5-year deadline was an inducement designed to win voter support. It
was, he wrote, "a sham." The way to "prevent similar swindles in the future"
would be for the court to clearly state why the 5-year rule was wrong and
declare the initiative to be unconstitutional.

Although it neutered the 5-year provision, the majority's decision could make
executions more likely, in time. About 17 of California's 747 condemned inmates
have exhausted all appeals. The decision probably will force the state to
streamline approval of drugs used to carry out executions, assuming the state
can find lethal drugs. California regulators had been slow-walking approval of
lethal drugs, part of the reason there hasn't been an execution in California
since 2006.

Even if drugs are found, there's no certainty that executions will ever become
routine in California. We hedge by using the words, "could" and "likely,"
because nothing is certain about capital punishment. No initiative can change
that, despite what campaign consultants tell voters.

Judges are extra careful with capital cases, knowing a mistake could result in
the execution of an innocent person. The California Supreme Court has upheld
271 death sentences. But federal courts also have a say, and nothing in the
initiative or in Thursday???s decision will have any impact on federal judges.

Governors have the power to order that executions proceed or to commute death
sentences to life in prison. No governor, not even the most law-and-order
politician, would relish presiding over multiple executions.

In his 1989 book, "Public Justice, Private Mercy," the late Gov. Pat Brown
described his anguish: "It was an awesome, ultimate power over the lives of
others that no person or government should have, or crave.

"And looking back over their names and files now, despite the horrible crimes
and the catalog of human weaknesses they comprise, I realize that each decision
took something out of me that nothing - not family or work or hope for the
future - has ever been able to replace."

There won't be an execution this year, and perhaps not next year. But the
ruling ensures that the death penalty will be an issue in the 2018 race to
replace Gov. Jerry Brown, a moral opponent of capital punishment. All three top
Democratic announced candidates for governor, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, former Los
Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Treasurer John Chiang, oppose capital
punishment.

So does the most well-funded Republican candidate, John Cox. Cox opposes
capital punishment because of its cost, and because of his Catholic faith; he
also opposes abortion. However, his campaign strategist, Wayne Johnson, told an
editorial board member Cox would follow the law.

In November 2016, slightly more than 51 % of the electorate voted for
Proposition 66, 292,000 out of the almost 13 million votes cast. Based on that
result and, now, a 5-2 high court decision that stretched to uphold this
unfortunate, unworkable and unenforceable mandate, California's law will
include the death penalty, for now.

(source: Editorial Board, Sacramento Bee)

************************

Scott Dekraai should get death penalty: Letter



Re "Judge rules out death penalty for Scott Dekraai in Seal Beach mass murder
case" (Aug. 18):

Usually, I am against the death penalty, but in the case of Scott Evans
Dekraai, confessed killer of 8, wounding another while wearing a bullet proof
vest, it seems that the death penalty should be warranted.

While I understand the judge's concern for justice not being served due to
alleged misconduct by some of the Orange County prosecutors and sheriffs
involved, still, there seemed to be enough evidence against him that would
definitely justify capital punishment.

Understandably, granting Dekraai the death penalty will not bring back all the
misery and suffering caused by his vicious angry actions, but, if this could
help to deter future killings and violence, then justice would be served.

Isadora Johnson, Seal Beach

(source: Letter to the Editor, Press-Telegram)








OREGON:

Ex-Gov. Kitzhaber discusses death penalty, alternatives----John Kitzhaber
placed a moratorium on death penalties in 2011, which current Governor Kate
Brown still upholds



Nearly 6 years ago, former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber announced a
state-wide moratorium on death penalties, saying "I refuse to be a part of this
compromised and inequitable system any longer."

On Wednesday night, at a public meeting of Oregonians for Alternatives to the
Death Penalty in Beaverton, Kitzhaber said he should've placed a moratorium on
it earlier.

"It was the right thing to do," said Kitzhaber, who oversaw the state's last 2
executions in 1996 and 1997. "It's what I should've done 20 years ago - I
didn't, but I can't change that. But I'm here tonight because I want to do all
I can to help you and other like-minded Oregonians have a good honest debate to
this and find alternatives to the death penalty."

The night's conversation centered around the death penalty and possible
alternatives.

"More and more people in this country I think agree there are better ways to
provide that needed punishment rather than killing people." Kitzhaber said.

Kitzhaber wasn't the only person at Wednesday's meeting with a connection to
the last 2 state executions.

Frank Thompson was the superintendent at the Oregon State Penitentiary during
that time. He used to be in favor of the death penalty. Now, as a member of the
Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, he supports alternative
methods.

"For capital punishment there are alternative ways - and that's life without
the possibility of parole," Thompson said. "There are states in this country
that have life without the possibility of parole and they are not clamoring to
change their way of dealing with capital crimes."

A conversation about the death penalty also means a conversation about its
cost. The Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty says the state
spends $29 million annually on prosecution and defense on these capital cases,
which can be carried out for years due to a lengthy appeal process.

"The due process is just a costly undertaking," Thompson said.

Whatever the alternative is, Kitzhaber wishes he would've used it well before
he instituted the moratorium back in 2011.

"Those 2 deaths haunted me for years," Kitzhaber said of the state executions
he oversaw. "Still haunt me."

(source: KOIN news)
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