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December 4, 2004

Ashcroft's death penalty "legacy"

David Hechler of the The National Law Journal has this terrific law.com article examining in depth outgoing Attorney General John Ashcroft's handling — many might say "mishandling" — of the federal death penalty during his tenure.  Among other astute observations, the article notes that "In a long list of 'successes' linked to the farewell letter posted on the Justice Department Web site [available here], [Ashcroft] never mentioned the death penalty."

The article thoughtfully details Ashcroft's "effort to federalize the death penalty" and notes "his penchant for overruling local prosecutors, which sometimes hamstrung their ability to negotiate cooperation agreements with defendants."  The article also suggests that Ashcroft's likely successor, AG nominee Alberto Gonzales might "be flooded with requests to reconsider Ashcroft's death penalty decisions."  And interviews produce contrasting speculations about how Gonzales might approach death penalty issues. 

Additional background on these and related issues can be found in these posts:

December 4, 2004 at 02:02 AM | Permalink

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