Thursday, April 17, 2008


Republicans need tax breaks to move to California.
BY Terry Bankert 4/167/08
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California may resume executions by year's end[l]

LEGALIZED MURDER- The death penalty . . . Is it justice - or legalized murder? Does it prevent crime - or lessen respect for the law? Will it make our towns and cities more safe - or more dangerous?[b]

REPUBLICAN SUPREME COURT SAYS "KILLEM" Nobody can be surprised that the Supreme Court gave a free pass today to proponents of execution by lethal injection. Justices Roberts, Alito, Scalia et al were hardly going to be sympathetic to the idea of suspending executions indefinitely in the 35 states that have adopted lethal injection, just because of the now well-documented risk of the condemned suffering several minutes of excruciating pain masked -- and thus invisible to observers -- by the paralysing agent pancuronium bromide. [h] FED'S AND

GANG OF 36 GOT IT RIGHT The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the most common method of lethal injection used for executions by the federal government and 36 states. The unsuccessful constitutional challenge to the three-drug lethal injection was brought by lawyers representing two men sentenced to die in the state of Kentucky. [v]

SHUDDERS AND CHEERLEADERS The U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding lethal injection sent a shudder through death row Wednesday, and prosecutors and governors around the country said they would move forward with carrying out death sentences as quickly as the courts can set execution dates.[a]

THERE IS NO ACADEMIC PROOF STAE KILLING MAKE THE STREETS SAFER Public opinion has long been sharply divided over the legal execution of criminals. To critics, capital punishment, or the death penalty, is a step backward to a more brutal time. To supporters, it is a step forward to safer streets and greater justice.[b]

LETHAL INJECTIONS, NOT ENOUGH PAIN OR TOO MUCH The Supreme Court's ruling that lethal injections can be used on inmates could speed up some proceedings in the state. California's last execution was in early 2006.[l]

THE GOOD Lawyers for the two convicted murderers at the center of the case argued that death by lethal injection amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, which is prohibited by the U.S. constitution. The lawyers argued that the drugs are often administered by untrained officials who sometimes botch the executions, causing extreme pain and suffering. [V]

THE BAD But the justices, in a seven-to-two vote, rejected the challenge. The ruling clears the way for executions to resume across the United States, after an unofficial moratorium took hold when the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. [V]

THE UGLY Reacting swiftly to the news, Virginia's Governor Tim Kaine lifted a moratorium on executions imposed on April 1. Other states that have the death penalty are likely to follow Virginia's lead.[V]

THE DEBATE WILL CONTINUE Brian Evans of Amnesty International, an organization that staunchly opposes the death penalty, says the ruling will not stop the intense debate on the death penalty taking place across the United States.[V]

WHAT ABOUT THE DEAD INNOCENT CONVICTS, THATS NOT LONG TERM "We don't think that there is going to be much long-term impact from this ruling," Evans said. "This ruling addresses a certain form of execution, but it does not address the real problems with the death penalty, which are bias in the system, racism in the system, and the fact that innocent people continue to end up on death row. Just since the Supreme Court agreed to hear this case in September of last year, four more people have been exonerated from death rows in the United States." [V]

YOU CRACK ME UP But the fractured decision may actually slow executions elsewhere in the country, legal experts said, as lawyers for death-row inmates launch fresh challenges based on its newly announced legal standards.[n]

OUR HEROES SPEAK JusticeClarence Thomas said "today’s decision is sure to engender more litigation" because "we have left the states without a bright-line rule."[n]

STANDARDS FOR KILLING? Ms. Semel said the fractured decision, the relatively sparse information available about practices in Kentucky and the new standard announced by the court would produce fertile ground for additional litigation, particularly in states where flaws in the administration of lethal injections were documented.[n]

WHATS YOU SIGN Executions in California may resume by the end of the year -- with one inmate being put to death by lethal injection each month -- as a result of today's Supreme Court ruling, a high-level state prosecutor said.[l]

DAN IS TOILING FOR US-Chief Assistant Atty. Gen. Dane Gillette, who has defended the state's lethal injection procedures against a federal court challenge, said he believes it is "certainly feasible" to resume executions by the end of the year.[l]

PROTOCAL JUST IS NOT RIGHT ...YETU.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel in San Jose had ordered a temporary halt to executions in California after finding the state's lethal injection procedures were unconstitutional. A decision by Fogel on whether a new execution protocol by the state meets constitutional requirements is pending.[l]

COCKTAILS ANYONE It was in Oklahoma that the three-drug lethal cocktail was invented 31 years ago. Death row inmates in the bunker-like H-unit at the 100-year-old Oklahoma State Prison talk about the possibility of a painfully botched execution, Powell told The Associated Press.[A]

ITS ROCKY TIME "Everybody has heard horror stories. I've heard them myself, but how can you confirm them?" he asked. "I've never seen anybody walk through that door upstairs ever come back." [A]

RESUME..NOWA hearing in the case has been set for June, but Gillette said it may be moved up as a result of today's high court ruling. The state plans to ask Fogel to lift his court order and permit executions to resume.[l]

OTHER CASES WORKING THROUGH THE SYSTEM. Even if Fogel rules quickly for the state, another legal challenge pending in a California appellate court will prevent the state from executing inmates immediately. Gillette said the state would press for a quick resolution in that case, which was unaffected by the Supreme Court decision.[l]Resuming executions this year "means a lot of things falling our way, but I think that is entirely possible," Gillette said.[l]

WE HAVE FIVE IN THE BARREL.He said there are five inmates who have exhausted their appeals and could be executed once the litigation is settled.[l]

HE SAID HE WOULD....BE BACK. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said the high court's ruling supports the state's case to resume executions.[l]

DEFENDER OF DEATH". I will continue to defend the death penalty and the will of the people, and I am confident that California's lethal injection protocol will be upheld," Schwarzenegger said.[l]

WHAT CAN MORALES BE THINKINGCalifornia's last execution was of Clarence Allen in January 2006. A month later, state officials -- in a dramatic 11th-hour turnaround -- called off the execution of Michael Morales, who had challenged the constitutionality of lethal injection as cruel and unusual punishment.[l]

LAWYERS SLOWED IT DOWN. Attorneys for Morales had challenged the three-drug sequence California used for its lethal-injection procedure one month before his scheduled execution. [M] They wrote that if the drugs were not administered properly it could leave Morales "paralyzed but conscious and suffering death from ... burning veins and heart failure." [M] In response, U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel recommended that the state monitor the execution with two anesthesiologists. One would be in the execution chamber and a.nother nearby to make sure Morales was unconscious before the two remaining drugs were injected. [M] Morales' execution was delayed for a day and ultimately canceled after the anesthesiologists refused to participate because of ethical concerns. [M]

TECHNOLOGY COULD BE TOO PAINFULFogel ruled in December 2006 that the state's procedures ran an unacceptable risk of inflicting unnecessarily painful deaths, but said they could be fixed. [L]

PANCURONIUM: ROUGH JUSTICE OR UNCONSTITUTIONAL! Justice Stevens urged states to consider abandoning one of the three chemicals, the paralyzing drug that would leave an unsedated inmate conscious but unable to move, breathe or cry out. The justices in the plurality said the drug, pancuronium bromide, made executions more dignified and faster, interests Justice Stevens dismissed as inadequate.[n] "States wishing to decrease the risk that future litigation will delay executions or invalidate their protocols would do well to reconsider their continued use of pancuronium bromide," Justice Stevens wrote.[n]

NOW DEATH WITH DIGNITY -Five months later, corrections officials, largely behind closed doors, issued a new blueprint for executions, saying the changes would "result in the dignified end of life" for condemned inmates. Morales' lawyers said aspects of the overhaul were worse than the old procedures.[l]

LET LETTHERE BE LIGHT-State officials last year began building a larger, better illuminated death chamber designed for lethal injection executions. Gillette said construction has been completed.[l]

NEED TO UPGRADE-The old facility, built in 1937 as the state's gas chamber, was criticized as dimly lit and crowded, relegating executioners outside the death room and making it difficult for them to properly monitor possible problems with the intravenous drug injections.[l]

EXECUTIONERS ARE UNDERTRAINED-Only once in the concurring opinions (the Court voted 7-2 on this one, with only Souter and Ginsburg dissenting) do we get to the heart of the matter. Justice Alito points out, correctly, that the main reason condemned prisoners are anesthetized so crudely (usually with sodium pentothal) and then fed a paralysing agent is because the experts who could really ensure a painless death - professional doctors and anesthesiologists - refuse to have anything to do with executions on ethical grounds.[n]

DOCUMENTED FACT WE HAVE EXECUTED 23 INNOCENT PERSONS In too many cases, say Hughes and others, the wrong people have been executed. The Stanford University Law Review says that between 1900 and 1985, at least 23 people later found to be innocent were executed in the United States.[b]

DEATH DOES NOT STOP CRIMINAL ACTS IT ONLY MAKES THE VICTEMS AND FAMILIES FEEL BETTER.-* The death penalty does not deter crime. According to an anti-death penalty editorial in USA Today (March 8, 1995), the death penalty may actually increase crime and violence: The average 1993 murder rate in the states with the death penalty was 56% higher than in states without," said the editorial.[b]

WHITE RICH PEOPLE ARE NOT EXECUTED. DID ENRON CAUSE LESS HARM THAN A DRUG DEAL GONE BAD? * The death penalty is unfairly applied. jury decisions on when to apply the death penalty, say critics, are often unfairly influenced by race and money. Studies show that juries are much more likely to apply the death penalty if the murder victim is white than if he or she is black. They also charge that people who are wealthy enough to hire good lawyers are less likely to get the death penalty than people who are poor.[b]

JUST WHAT SEPARATES US FROM THE ANIMALS?-* The death penalty is unconstitutional. Many death penalty opponents argue that the death penalty is "cruel and unusual punishment," and thus should be banned under the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The death penalty is cruel, they argue, because it is morally wrong; and it is unusual, they argue, because it is applied unfairly.[b]

U.S. CAN LIVE WITH OUT ORGANIZED DEATH Human Rights Watch urged the US to continue the moratorium on executions that has been in place since the US Supreme Court agreed in September 2007 to hear the Baze case. [r] "The existing stay on executions shows the US can live without the death penalty," Fathi said.[r]

Posted here
by Terry Bankert ...
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[V] Voice of America

[M] Mercury News


[l] The Los Angles Times,0,5308369.story

[N] The New York Times

[h] The Huffington Post [r] Reuters

[b] Bnet


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