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September 23, 2011

Lots and lots of notable death penalty headlines and commentary

The media continues to buzz a lot about the Troy Davis case and execution; meanwhile lots of other death penalty developments continue to unfold throughout the United States.  Here is just a sampling of some of the capital news and commentary that caught my eye this morning from a variety of sources:

  • From the New York Times here, "In Death-Penalty Debate, Execution Offers Little Closure"

  • From CNN here, "Troy Davis and constitutional virtues"

  • From the New York Times op-ed page here, "Silence from the Court"

  • From the Huffington Post here, "From Warren McCleskey to Troy Davis, History Repeats"

  • From Technorati here, "Anonymous Plots Revenge Against Georgia For Troy Davis

  • From the National Journal here, "Alec Baldwin and Michelle Malkin Both Lose Troy Davis Twitter Fight"

  • From CNN here, "How does a Christian support the death penalty?"

  • From FoxNews here, "Doctors and Death Penalty Cases"

  • From Reuters here, "Alabama carries out third U.S. execution this week"

  • From the AP here, "Georgia sets execution date for Albany man"

  • From the AP here, "Lawyers Seek Details on Ohio Executioner's Cancer"

  • From the AP here, "Texas prisons end special last meals in executions"

September 23, 2011 at 10:36 AM | Permalink

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Comments

Both Doug and I are quoted in the New York Times piece listed first. I elaborated on my quotations here:
http://www.crimeandconsequences.com/crimblog/2011/09/a-nyt-writer-has-his-say.html

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 23, 2011 11:01:20 AM

Like many controversial and emotional issues, the voices for and against the death penalty will rarely convince each other of the merits of the other side. Each side has its own merits.

English Jurist William Blackstone coined what is now known as Blackstone's Formula: "[B]etter that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer". That an innocent man could have been executed is enough for DP abolitionists to call for a halt to all executions (acknowledging that there are many other arguments for which the anti-DP community also wish for its disposal).

Bill said, as quoted in the NY Times article, that the system needs finality. I agree. In a system where the Death Penalty is legal and used, a DP case needs an end somehow. Troy Davis had many chances in court to convince a judge (or a panel of judges) that his case should be overturned by new evidence or recanted testimony. He was also considered by the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles multiple times to consider commuting his sentence from Death to LWOP.

After all these years, Mr. Davis and the MacPhail family had faced Davis' execution four times. As quoted in this earlier blog post the mother of the murder victim in this case, Anneliese MacPhail, stated "We are ready to close this book and start our lives. This has been a long haul." I am not speaking for or against the use of DP, only that I agree with Mr. Otis that cases need finality and in our system that allows death, commutation OR execution was needed to close the Troy Davis case.

The story here, to me is, the American system of proving innocence after conviction. "True story" movies have been made that illustrate how difficult this process can be. As seen in the Troy Davis case, the burden of proof shifted from the prosecution to the defense if Davis' life was to be spared. The Prosecution proved guilt at trial, and therefore the defense had to prove innocence to overturn. I get that. However the American standard of innocent-until-proven-guilty flipped to guilty-until-proven-innocent.

Should "Innocent beyond a reasonable doubt" be the standard by which the American Judiciary must hold inmate's to? In non-DP cases, maybe. However, when death is involved, there is no way to "un-ring" that bell. Should DP cases be held to a slightly lower standard when commuting a DP case to LWOP? That seems to be up to each State's laws and I never advocate the federal government stepping in and dictating State policy.

If this is a problem, how do we fix it?

In less controversial matters, once an inmate is freed from prison after serving their term for an unlawful conviction, the road is just as hard. In American jurisprudence, the only avenue available to overturn a bad conviction after sentence is served is using an old English writ called Coram Nobis. The granting of these writs is exceedingly rare because of the standards held there too.

Should there be a standardized avenue to pursue an innocence claim for both incarcerated and release inmates?

Posted by: Eric Matthews | Sep 23, 2011 1:13:46 PM

http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2011/09/the-needle-and-the-damage-done

Posted by: ssb | Sep 23, 2011 1:47:56 PM

Eric Matthews --

Thank you for a quite thoughtful post.

I have a question having to do with what all will agree is a technicality. I see that you were able to link to articles by typing a blue word. A reader can click on that word and see the linked piece.

I have never figured out how to do that on this site. How do you do it?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 23, 2011 2:50:18 PM

Lots to reflect on in these articles. Perhaps it will be left to those drawn anew to the debate by the stark spectacle of Troy's wrongful and unnecessary death, and the callous manner in which his execution finally took place, to effect the change needed to trigger abolition. Thanks to the diffidence of the Supreme Court, video of the execution was unnecessary to convey the sense of horror at what must be understood as a primitive retributive act that should have no place in the law of a democratic state in the 21st century.
Although I, and fellow abolitionists, will never expect to change the views of Bill, Kent and the like, it is important that we challenge the basis of those views, and to demonstrate that the death penalty represents a blind alley to the better society we all wish for, and a trap for the innocent who are under-resourced and ill-served by the guardians of Justice in the legal system, from bottom to top.
Those who applauded Troy's execution and today claim a victory, will find it a hollow one. Justice is not about upholding the false verdict of a broken system, but about upholding truth, decency and human dignity. We will all be safer in the promotion of those values, rather than the retributory excess of execution.

Posted by: peter | Sep 24, 2011 4:40:06 AM

BILL OTIS
"I have a question having to do with what all will agree is a technicality. I see that you were able to link to articles by typing a blue word. A reader can click on that word and see the linked piece.

"I have never figured out how to do that on this site. How do you do it?"
~
http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2011/09/the-needle-and-the-damage-done

Bill, I'm on using Firefox. The URL is not a link for me.

However:
1. Highlight the URL using left click.
2. Then right click the highlighted URL
4. A drop box offers three open link options.

Posted by: JAG | Sep 24, 2011 9:03:38 AM

JAG --

Thank you for the instructions. Whether I am sufficiently computer literate to follow them is the next question, but I don't think you can help me with that one.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 24, 2011 10:08:53 AM

Bill -
Firefox can help, but the basics of linking the imbedded link in a post like this uses the base-HTML function for links. Here's how you do it:


  • to open link command is open-carrot a: < a
  • to insert the URL is an href command: href="URL location"
  • then close carrot
  • insert text that you wish to appear in blue
  • now close the link with slash-a: < /a>

When all is said and done it looks like this:

< a href="URL location">text that you wish to appear in blue < /a>

I've inserted spaces after the carrots in order to keep HTML from actually creating a link. Eliminate the spaces inside the carrots and you have the text that you wish to appear in blue.

Posted by: Eric Matthews | Sep 24, 2011 10:47:40 AM

I have $10 that says the old coot will never be create such a link on this website. :-)

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Sep 24, 2011 12:20:25 PM

Hey, TarlsQtr, you know where to send it.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 24, 2011 3:37:21 PM

Eric Matthews --

Looks like you and I get to split what used to be TarlsQtr's ten dollars.

Thanks for your help!

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 24, 2011 3:45:35 PM

LOL Wow! The check is in the mail. :-)

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Sep 24, 2011 3:46:28 PM

English Jurist William Blackstone coined what is now known as Blackstone's Formula: "[B]etter that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer". That an innocent man could have been executed is enough for DP abolitionists to call for a halt to all executions (acknowledging that there are many other arguments for which the anti-DP community also wish for its disposal).

Absolutely false. It is better for 10 guilty men to go free because they have paid or generated lawyer fees. Blackstone was Royalist weasel who put our beloved patriots on trial in absentia and condemned them to death. He voted for the Stamp Act, an oppressive act of big, over-reaching imperious government. He was a disgusting human being. Only Coke was more disgusting then this toad.

However, the public pays a heavy price. These guilty men will commit 100's of crimes a year, only 1 in 10 will ever get prosecuted, most often with a slap on the wrist by biased pro-criminal judges. Thanks to the vile pro-criminal lawyer crime is 90% immune from prosecution. These are FBI Index felonies, real crimes, not failing to fill out your tax return. The exception will be the productive male, who will be plundered and destroyed by the legal system. These crimes will drop property values by $millions for several blocks. They will generate massive social welfare costs as criminals father bastards by the dozen, the spawn of brazen, irresponsible hussies, the only women who will have these pigs. They will disrupt education by terrorizing children and teachers. They will injure 5 million crime victims, and drive out businesses for acres around.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 24, 2011 3:51:57 PM

Bill -
You are welcome and well done on your first go.

Posted by: Eric Matthews | Sep 24, 2011 4:07:49 PM

Hello I am the mother of Armistead D Myers and this act/petition to the white house is reflects issues in the Troy Davis case also

Dear friends,

I wanted to let you know about a new petition I created on We the People, a
new feature on WhiteHouse.gov, and ask for your support. Will you add your
name to mine? If this petition gets 5,000 signatures by October 22, 2011,
the White House will review it and respond!

We the People allows anyone to create and sign petitions asking the Obama
Administration to take action on a range of issues. If a petition gets
enough support, the Obama Administration will issue an official response.

You can view and sign the petition here:

http://wh.gov/gXe

Here's some more information about this petition:

ARMISTEAD/DAVIS ACT;FEDERAL&STATES,WHEN NO EVIDENCE/NONE PHYSICAL 2
CORROBERATE WITTNESS TESTIMONY DEFENDENT IS INNOCENT
ARMISTEAD/DAVIS ACT;FEDERAL&STATES,WHEN NO EVIDENCE/NONE PHYSICAL 2
CORROBERATE WITTNESS TESTIMONY, DEFENDENT IS INNOCENT;We petition for, No
conviction, set a side convictions, when a wittness(es) statements/testimony
is not corroberated by evidence, solid/physical evidence and especially when
ammunity is promised/given and/or wittness involvement in the crime/other
crimes. For the Federal and State law to mirror MD state law.

Posted by: Stephanie A. Smith | Sep 25, 2011 1:44:21 PM

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