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May 3, 2007

Nebraska electrocution put on hold

As detailed in this AP article, the "Nebraska Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed an execution over concerns about a new electrocution protocol in the only state that still relies solely on the electric chair for capital punishment."  The Nebraska court was split 4-3, and the court's opinion is available at this link

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May 3, 2007 at 01:57 PM | Permalink


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Apparently, four members of the Nebraska Supreme Court chose to exercise their judicial discretion on behalf of a vicious killer to the detriment of the victims' families. An interesting set of priorities. Objectively speaking, I don't see how the epithet "pro-killer" doesn't fit like a glove. The victims' families have every right to despise these reprehensible "jurists".

Posted by: federalist | May 3, 2007 2:03:24 PM

In your view, should judges ever apply the Eighth Amendment under any circumstances? Does the invalidation of a method of execution a fortiori make a judge pro-killer and reprehensible?

I'd point out that in cases like Harmelin and McMillian, the conservative Justices argued that the Eighth Amendment shouldn't be applied because it was originally intended to target cruel methods of execution rather than overly lengthy prison sentences or prison conditions. Do you agree with those rulings? If so, and you think that invalidating methods of execution is clearly pro-murderer and anti-victim, it would seem that you'd have to think that the Eighth Amendment is dead letter.

Or do you feel that the Eighth Amendment is clearly constitutional? Perhaps on the ground that it was a technique routinely used at the Founding? Or that it's beyond cavil that a technique that causes eyes to pop out, heads to light on fire, etc., is constitutional? Do you have an argument?

Posted by: SLP reader | May 3, 2007 2:18:35 PM

i mean, "the electric chair is clearly constitutional?"

Posted by: SLP reader | May 3, 2007 2:19:46 PM

The issue, SLP reader, is that the killer waived further appeals. Thus, this intercession was completely discretionary (and in my view, inappropriate, why on earth would you let the basest of litigants get a benefit that many more savory litigants do not get). Comer's execution (in Arizona) may well violate the Constitution, but since he isn't complaining, the courts stand aside. Courts don't have some mandate to search out every violation--rather they are supposed to apply waiver rules etc. It is a check on their power, but these arrogant jurists decide to swoop in and throw their weight around--for what--to benefit a killer.

These "jurists" deserve nothing but the deepest contempt.

Posted by: federalist | May 3, 2007 2:36:08 PM

more passive aggressive nonsense from the Nebraska Supreme Court. It has had several opportunities to address the death penalty in general and the electric chair in particular and would not act. They put their finger in the wind and see it is blowing in the direction of Ernie Chambers and "pull the plug" at the last minute, just as they did in the Randolph Reeves case. they just cant come out and say anything, but I bet you wont ever see another execution in Nebraska. (Former attorney, thanks to the idiot Supremes!)

Posted by: Dale Gribble | May 3, 2007 3:02:19 PM

It was a discretionary act, meaning that it wasn't lawless in any way - the judges were empowered under Nebraska law to do it. In my view, there is a public interest in ensuring that their criminal punishments are carried out in compliance with the constitution which exists regardless of whether the inmate raises the claim.

Posted by: SLP reader | May 3, 2007 4:50:07 PM

That's right, it was a discretionary act, one in favor of a killer to the detriment of law-abiding citizens. The only conclusion to come to is that they care more about murderers than victims' families.

I'd like to see you make your argument to the members of the victims' families who have every right to expect that after all these years, this litigation would have come to an end. Your invocation of the "public interest" is nothing but claptrap. Put yourself in the position of the victims' families . . . . how cruel was the arrogant action of the Nebraska justices? And let's keep in mind that they didn't choose to be in the position that they are in--Carey Moore placed them in that position. You can dress up your position all you want--but at the end of the day it makes a mockery of justice and is appallingly cruel to people who just happened to be the family members of murder victims.

That you have so little concern for these people, quite frankly, displays an utter lack of morality.

Posted by: federalist | May 3, 2007 5:01:50 PM

What if the victims' families are against the death penalty? Or what if they do not want to see their family member's killer executed? Should they get a say if a defendant is convicted and sentenced to the death penalty based on fair, legal determinations of a judge and jury, but don't want to see him executed? And if not, what makes this situation different?

Posted by: | May 3, 2007 5:22:15 PM

The issue about victims' family members not wanting death is a valid one. Of course, the issue for me with this is the jerking around of the victims' family and the arrogance of the judiciary. Certainly, the vast majority of victims family members probably don't have the vehemence of feeling. Moreover, the constant setting of dates and stays has got to wear on abolitionists who happen to be family members of murder victims. And this is to say nothing of the public's right to have the death penalty be something other than a farce.

Posted by: federalist | May 3, 2007 6:04:18 PM

"Your invocation of the 'public interest' is nothing but claptrap."

Well, that just settles it, doesn't it?

Posted by: | May 3, 2007 6:27:01 PM

So in Nebraska, no case is ever final? Moore can't bring his claim through PCR, so the Court brings it for him? How does that work in conjunction with exhausting state remedies before pursuing federal habeas? Since Nebraska can evidently reconsider a decision at any time, can you ever truly exhaust your state remedies?

Posted by: LonesomeClerk | May 4, 2007 9:10:46 AM

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