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October 27, 2011

Hardest case (ever?!) for anyone categorically opposed to capital punishment

As set forth via this local news report (and this related video), which is headlined "Robert: death penalty is the only way to ensure I don't kill again," a murderer's own testimony offered in a death penalty proceeding in South Dakota sounds almost like a law professor's hypothetical because it presents, in my view, perhaps the toughest set of facts for anyone categorically opposed to the death penalty.  Here are the details: 

After hearing the emotional testimony from the family of Officer Ronald Johnson on Wednesday morning Eric Robert took his turn at the stand.  Robert testified to the court that he is most deserving of a death sentence. "I deserve to die, Mrs. Johnson said it best I'm a coward, I killed her husband with a pipe from behind." Said Robert.

Robert's words were clear and direct as he testified to the court that he knew exactly what he was doing the day he killed Officer Ronald Johnson [while attempted to escape from prison].  On April 12th it was a war to me, it was the staff's duty to ensure I stayed in prison for the rest of my life and it was my duty to defeat them."

Robert also hinted that this anger and hatred is something that will never leave him telling the judge, "If you were to sentence me to life I think you'll read in the future that I've killed again and that's on you."

Robert showed no emotion throughout his testimony and says the death penalty is the only way to ensure he doesn't kill another human being.  He was even so bold as to threaten the judge himself. "Brad Zell if you stood between me and the door to freedom I would kill you, if I sat in your chair I would execute me... Do the right thing." Said Robert.

Robert has wanted death all along but that sentence has not been given. Judge Zell informed Robert that the court does not make it's decision based on passion or a wish. "It (the court) must take all the evidence, weigh it and make a determination in this case whether death or life is appropriate." Said Judge Zell.

Eric Robert told the court he chose against a jury trial because he did not want 12 everyday people carrying the weight of this responsibility of life or death.  That decision is now left up to Judge Zell who will announce his decision sometime in the coming days.

I have long thought that murders of officers by inmates already serving life terms while trying to escape present the most compelling of all cases for the death penalty, in part because merely imposing another life sentence functionally means the inmate will suffer no additional punishment for the murder and in part because the inmate would then also have no reason not to again try to escape and kill in the process (unless we are prepared to allow prison officials to torture the inmate instead of executing him).  In this case, not only has the defendant killed as part of an escape attempt, he is stating directly that he will do so again if he is not sentenced to death.

October 27, 2011 at 01:30 AM | Permalink

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"If you were to sentence me to life I think you'll read in the future that I've killed again and that's on you."

As we hear so often from the abolitionist side: Not in my name.

Not in my name does this guy get a life sentence only to kill again, as he says he will and has proved he is able to.

Will some of the abolitionists who post here please advise as to whether, if this guy gets the prison sentence they demand, and then he kills again as promised, they will take any responsibility for the next victim's death -- the one that could be prevented if we reject abolitionist demands and execute this killer now?

And no, this is not a call for a regurgitation of the standard-issue talking points about how Amerika Stinks, how much better Europe is, "Free Troy Davis," and all the rest. It is a quite specific question:

Do you take any responsibility for a future, predicted murder made possible by keeping his man alive, as you demand?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 27, 2011 9:11:19 AM

This summary , like the print article, provide far too little detail to make a dispassionate judgment on whether Eric Robert should be put to death or to make a judgment that he is so skillful he could overcome any and every form of confinement to kill. Doug, I've unfairly judged you -- I'm sure -- in the past by suspecting you trumpet the death penalty to win credibility with prosecutors and judges. I have far too little information to make that judgment. So, too, is it a farce and unfair for you to taunt those most opposed to killing to defend a prison term while providing no details about the Circumstances that enabled Mr. Roberts to get a pipe, and to sneak up on Officer Johnson, let alone the circumstances (not least among them, his mental health).

Posted by: nan | Oct 27, 2011 10:45:55 AM

posted too quickly -- let alone the circumstances (not least among them, his mental health) that explain how Roberts became the person devoted to harbor such hateful sentiments,or boastfully claim them during his media spotlight.

Posted by: nan | Oct 27, 2011 10:49:20 AM

Nan -

   Does it matter? I'm not taking much of a stance on the DP as a whole here, but the way I see it there are only three details one needs to make this determination:

  1. Robert committed a crime that carries death as a possible punishment;
  2. Robert admits to the crime, and actually predicts he will murder again;
  3. Robert specifically asks that he be put to death.

I'm not sure what more information is needed here. This article simple articulates that it is hard to argue that death is inappropriate in this case, thereby making the argument for abolishing the death penalty altogether weaker.
"Not in my name does this guy get a life sentence only to kill again, as he says he will and has proved he is able to."

It may be rare, but I agree with Bill Otis on this (although I try not to be as preemptively combative).

Posted by: Eric Matthews | Oct 27, 2011 11:04:42 AM

bill: "Do you take any responsibility for a future, predicted murder made possible by keeping his man alive, as you demand?"

me: only if death penalty supporters are willing to take responsibility for the fact that the defendant likely killed the correctional officer so that he would be given the death penalty. It seems from the given facts in this case - and others where prisoners serving life sentences have killed guards or other inmates and then asked to be executed - that death penalty supports already have blood on their hands in this case. If you admit that suicide by the death penalty exists and is likely what is happening in this case - and therefore the existance of the death penalty has already caused murders, then I am willing to accept blame for any hypothetical future crimes this guy might commit in the unlikely event he is not given the death penalty.

nan: "circumstances (not least among them, his mental health)"

me: who is to say that it is irrational to prefer to die rather than spending 80 years in prison or life in prison? This case should not be giving opponents of the death penalty a reason to rethink their beliefs - it should be giving supporters of the death penalty pause. Presuming sanity, as the law requires, unless evidence is presented to overcome the presumption of sanity we must presume that the defendant made the rational choice to kill a guard to be given the death penalty. That people can rationally believe that death is preferrable to an unfree life is why the theory that having the death penalty deters crime is completely bogus - and anyone who really values freedom knows it. Fake patriots like Bill who are so eager to inpune anyone who disagrees with them as being in the "Amerika stinks" (incidentially, what's with the German spelling, Bill - was a woman named Erika mean to you?) crowd do not count. I mean, every July 4th we celebrate the fact that the Founding Fathers made the choice to prefer death to continuing to live under British Rule.

ginny :)

Posted by: virginia | Oct 27, 2011 12:15:52 PM

ginny --

Did you even read the story? The reason he killed the guard was that the guard stood between him and escape. You have nothing but speculation that he wanted the death penalty, whereas the press account of his behavior shows that what he wanted was the opposite -- life, and life on the outside.

Of course he wouldn't have been around to try an escape to begin with if he'd been executed for his first go-round, now would he?

P.S. Whether you accept responsibility for the outcroppings of your positions does not depend one little whit on what my beliefs or statements are. I could be an axe murderer, and you, as an adult, are responsible for your own positions regardless.

If a point be made of it, however, I take more responsibility for what I say just by signing my name here than you ever have -- posting, as you always do, from behind the veil of anonymity.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 27, 2011 1:34:59 PM

Eric --

Let me just say that the retentionist who FAILS to anticipate the sure-fire, off-the-shelf abolitionist response is less combative than oblivious to the last ten thousand posts by peter, claudio, et. al.

Good analytical points, by the way. I notice that Nan has not responded.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 27, 2011 1:43:38 PM

nan --

"This summary , like the print article, provide far too little detail to make a dispassionate judgment on whether Eric Robert should be put to death or to make a judgment that he is so skillful he could overcome any and every form of confinement to kill."

That statement implies that there are some circumstances in which you would approve executing Eric Robert. The overall tenor of your comment, however, suggests that you are a death penaty abolitionist.

Of course I don't know. Are you? Is there a single execution since Gregg v. Georgia of which you approve? Which one woud that be, and why do you approve?

If in fact you are an abolitionist, then, contrary to what you imply, the killer's mental health wouldn't make a particle of difference to you, would it?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 27, 2011 1:56:46 PM

Another good paradigm case is Allen v. Woodford, life prisoner who conspired to murder witnesses who testified against him at his murder trial.
http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-9th-circuit/1050550.html

Posted by: ward | Oct 27, 2011 2:41:20 PM


I don't understand why anyone would think that Professor B. "trumpets" the death penalty, whether to win credibility with prosecutors and judges or for any reason.

Unless I've misread, I've always understood his position on capital punishment as a consistent "generally fairly solidly against, but unable to oppose categorically," with one of the particular problems that makes it most difficult for him to oppose categorically being the "murder by an inmate already serving a LWOP or functional-equivalent-of-LWOP sentence for one or more previous murders" problem.

Posted by: guest | Oct 27, 2011 2:44:44 PM

I don't find this to be a difficult question at all. Whether the death penalty should be an option for punishment is a policy question that should be answered based on policy considerations. Having weighed the policy considertions, I have come to the conclusion that the death penalty should not be an option for punishment. Period. End of consideration. Cases like this one are examples of why the determination should be made in advance. All murders are horrible and passions rightfully raised on the facts of individual cases taint our judgment as to overarching policy.

To answer some coming questions: Yes, I believe that supermax prisons are sound policy and would address concerns raised by this and other similar cases. Yes, I believe that LWOP is an appropriate sentencing option in murder cases. Yes, I do accept that bad people will do bad things if given the opportunity and that no system can prevent such behavior perfectly. No, I do not accept responsibility for the criminal acts of another person.

Posted by: Ala JD | Oct 27, 2011 2:51:51 PM

@ Virginia:

"Presuming sanity, as the law requires, unless evidence is presented to overcome the presumption of sanity we must presume that the defendant made the rational choice to kill a guard to be given the death penalty. That people can rationally believe that death is preferrable to an unfree life is why the theory that having the death penalty deters crime is completely bogus - and anyone who really values freedom knows it."

I think I "really value[] freedom," but I'm not sure I "know[]" what you think so obvious. Perhaps this person believes that being executed would be preferable to an unfree life, but it's anything but obvious to me that most murderers do. Otherwise, you wouldn't see murderers continue to press on with appeals and collateral attacks on their death sentences, even after all challenges to their underlying murder convictions have been resolved against them. If all, or even most murderers, thought that being executed were preferable to spending the remainder of their lives in prison, it would be much more frequent for prisoners to drop their appeals and collateral attacks once the guilt phase of their trials are upheld against attack. In fact, that's a very uncommon occurrence. Indeed, it would be more common for capital defendants to insist that their lawyers only appeal and press collateral attacks on guilt-phase issues that would yield a new trial, rather than yielding only a new death-penalty proceeding but no new trial.

Moreover, I'm not sure I understand why you seem to think it so obvious that the deterrent effects (or lack of them) are the same for people already in prison serving lifetime prison sentences than for people who aren't in prison but are on the street.

In any case, it would seem to me the logical implication of your argument that "who is to say that it is irrational to prefer to die rather than spending 80 years in prison or life in prison?" would be that prisoners who are serving lifetime prison sentences for murder ought to be given relatively free rein to commit suicide in prison (provided, perhaps, that they could show that their decision to commit suicide wouldn't be the product of serious mental illness), on the theory that they should be allowed to decide to die with (relative) dignity rather than spend the rest of their lives in cages.

Or is your real objection that he was serving a lifetime prison sentence in the first place, and that he therefore didn't have any prospect of eventual release to hope for?

Posted by: guest | Oct 27, 2011 3:03:46 PM

guest --

I think you might be understating Prof. Berman's support for the DP. He is largely agnostic because of questions of cost, but has pretty explicitly recognized that it is a just sentence in cases like this, or for terrorist murder.

The idea that he "trumpets" the DP to "win credibility with prosecutors and judges" is ad hominem, insulting to him, and based on ignorance of what he does. He is a full-time, chaired professor of law at Ohio State. He occasionally writes amicus briefs; I believe he wrote one in Rita. Other than that, I am unaware of any reason to think he has any need or desire to curry favor with prosecutos or judges. And the notion that he would sell out his beliefs for the sake of ambition -- if the ambition were there -- is just a slur.

I debated him once on drug legalization, and thus can say I know him slightly. What you see is what you get. He presents himself and what he thinks on this site exactly as he presents in it person. There is no duplicity or dishonesty about him.

For once, I'd like to see an abbie make a point without this kind of stuff.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 27, 2011 3:16:41 PM

Ala JD --

"I don't find this to be a difficult question at all."

In that, at least, you agree with the majority.

"Whether the death penalty should be an option for punishment is a policy question that should be answered based on policy considerations."

Thank you for this implicit but quite clear admission that the DP does not violate the Constitution.

"Having weighed the policy considertions, I have come to the conclusion that the death penalty should not be an option for punishment. Period."

Since policy is decided in this country by the majority, and not by you, and since the majority has decided that it approves of the DP, it should remain an option for punishment. Period.

"Yes, I do accept that bad people will do bad things if given the opportunity and that no system can prevent such behavior perfectly. No, I do not accept responsibility for the criminal acts of another person."

Do you accept responsibility for your personal support of a sentencing system (LWOP only) that continues to make possible the criminal acts -- namely murder -- of another person, knowing that such acts have occurred in the past and, as you acknowledge, cannot perfectly be prevented from occurring again?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 27, 2011 3:32:42 PM

This case demonstrates how death penalty is NOT a deterrent for homicide (and has a brutalizing effect on people and society).

Death penalty can be also an encouragement to kill.
We know that homicide-suicide is a sad banality of every day, but the suicide-homicide is not so uncommon. Sick people who are not able to kill themselves may delegate State to do this and a capital homicide can be a way to reach the insane conclusion. Cases like Jeremy Sagastegui, Christina Riggs, Thomas Akers and Gary Gilmore are well known.

There is also the executioner syndrome: when the potential murderer identifies himself with the hangman and his prospective victim is someone who greatly offended him.

Death penalty is much more complicate and dangerous than many aficionados seem understand.

Posted by: Dott. claudio giusti, italia | Oct 27, 2011 5:25:34 PM

If by "anticipate the sure-fire, off-the-shelf abolitionist response" you mean "transparently attempt to undermine any legitimate, thoughtful criticism of my position by preemptively accusing any and all possible critics of holding the most extreme, least thoughtful possible version of their position" then, um, yeah.

Posted by: Anon | Oct 27, 2011 5:27:34 PM


Well, I don't know about anyone else, but I appreciate Claudio's critiques of the United States's justice system(s). Who better to criticize than someone who hails from a country with a justice system as efficient, well-functioning, and capable of quickly and reliably sorting guilty from innocent as Italy's?

Posted by: guest | Oct 27, 2011 5:56:20 PM

Claudio:

I am very familiar with the Thomas Akers case you referenced at 5:25 P.M. I don't understand your point. Please elaborate.

Posted by: Fred | Oct 27, 2011 6:36:14 PM

@Claudio
Two things you seem to have missed, the first is that he did not kill to get the death penalty. He killed in an escape attempt.
"A South Dakota inmate was sentenced to death Thursday for killing a prison guard by bashing him with a pipe, covering his mouth with plastic wrap and then wearing the dead man's uniform during an attempt to escape."
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/eric-robert-inmate-in-sd-_n_1050871.html

The second is this: He is not afraid to die and he likes to kill people. If we give him more prison time instead of death what stops him from killing again? A year from now? 10 years? 50 years? He could rape, kill or escape with no fear of punishment.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Oct 27, 2011 6:36:51 PM

Bill: Just for clarity, I do not think I have ever "explicitly recognized that [death] is a just sentence" in any case. I generally try to avoid using the word "just" to describe my own opinions on any sentence because I have never been confident that I personally know what this word REALLY means (or should mean) as an adjective in the sentencing context. I often use words like "fitting" or "appropriate" or even "deserved" or "merited" to capture similar sentiments, and I also in various settings may say a punishment is justified or justifiable, but the adjective "just" never feels proper to me in this context as a way to articulate my personal perspectives on any sentence.

More to the point of your comment, my "agnostic" support for the death penalty in modern American legal systems is based mostly in my affinity to defer to localized democratic judgments on certain contested legal/moral/political issues, my disaffinity to elevate the mere preservation of life without any liberty/autonomy way over all other important legal/moral/political values, and my sincere hope that allowing localities to use the death penalty in very limited settings may ultimate reduce overall human suffering caused both by criminal activities and by excessive state power/harms often used in efforts to reduce some criminal activities.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 27, 2011 7:06:10 PM

Anon --

"If by "anticipate the sure-fire, off-the-shelf abolitionist response" you mean "transparently attempt..." Etcetera.

No, I mean exactly what I said, as claudio illustrated in his wonderfully well timed off-the-shelf response. But I appreciate your willingness to re-write my words and re-cast, in your Carnak-like wisdom, some burlesque of what I "mean."

However, if you have "any legitimate, thoughtful criticism," of my position (as you describe your apparent views), I'm all ears.

You can start by explaining why this guy should get a freebie -- just give him another life sentence. And then another. Any limit on this?

Then you can take on how we know prison security is so infallible we know he won't do it again, as he has all but promised.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 27, 2011 7:52:13 PM

Doug --

Fair enough, of course. I was trying to give my estimate of your stance on the subject, which was pretty close but not as precise as your spelling it out. As I keep saying, each poster gets to define his own views rather than have them defined for him. That goes double for the blog owner.

Enjoy your travels.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 27, 2011 7:55:57 PM

Mr Guest
American Justice system looks working because you have NOT trials, NO appeals, NO explanation of the rationale of verdicts. 95% of convictions for felonies are plea bargained (no trial, no appeal), juries needs just unanimity but NOT justifications, appeal is NOT a constitutional right and after the first trial you are guilty even in an appellate court. Italian justice system is the opposite.


Mr Fred,
“Thomas Akers had long stated his wish to be executed before he achieved it. In 1987, when he was 17, he was arrested for stealing and sentenced to adult prison. After a few months in custody, he wrote to the sentencing judge, and asked to be put to death in Virginia’s electric chair. After being paroled in August 1998, he began wearing a necklace with an electric chair pendant. He told his family that he was going to be executed. In December 1998, he beat a man to death. He demanded the death sentence, and once he got that, he demanded execution. The state granted his wish on 1 March 2001.” (AI AMR 51/053/2001 and AMR 51/003/2006)


Mr Mike
"This case demonstrates how the death penalty is NOT a deterrent for homicide"

Posted by: Dott. claudio giusti, italia | Oct 28, 2011 3:52:20 AM

mike: "he did not kill to get the death penalty. He killed in an escape attempt."

me: the problem with that is that you ignore the defendant's own testimony that he expected to die during the "escape" attempt and that if he reached the outer wall and disarmed a guard, he would fight to the death rather than simply leaving which at least is what I would expect someone making a bona fide escape attempt to do. That makes it sound like his "escape" attempt was really a "suicide" attempt. Perhaps some news sources left out that bit of testimony (I read it on the article posted on Yahoo News which included quite explicit statements from the defendant that his escape attempt was really an attempt to commit suicide by prison guard). It may well be hard to define the difference between an escape attempt and an attempt to commit suicide by guard. C.F., Johnny Cash, "The Wall."

Again, in the absence of contrary information we must assume that the defendant is sane and made the rational choice that dying was more tolerable than an 80 year prison sentence.

And death penalty supporters, sorry, but even claiming that the defendant was attempting to escape or die trying (I'm guessing this is the first time that someone has cited both Johnny Cash and 50 Cent in the same post on this site) really does not support your case. Because it still proves that death is not universally seen as worse than life in prison which is the underlying premise behind the deterrence theory. I knew that the Bill Otises of the world would not be able to face the possibility that someone would kill for the death penalty.

guest: "Perhaps this person believes that being executed would be preferable to an unfree life, but it's anything but obvious to me that most murderers do"

me: I believe you missed my point - my point is that death penalty supporters refuse to admit that someone can rationally choose that death is preferrable to life in prison. They do so because it undermines the deterrence theory and they know that deterrence theory is one of the most effective tools they have to sway people who do not know what the term "underlying premise" means and lack basic reasoning skills. Perhaps that is best illustrated by people who commit murder suicides and those who fight to the death rather than being captured. It is also illustrated by murders in the correctional setting by people serving long sentences or facing long sentencing who kill to be given the death penalty. I believe it provides comfort for people to believe that the people who do those things are insane - however, as I said - in the absence of contrary evidence, we must presume that they are sane and made the rational choice to die rather than go to prison.

If even one person has killed so that the killer be given the death penalty, death penalty supporters have that person's blood on their hands. People like Bill Otis and MikeinCT refuse to acknowledge even the very strong possibility (in the absence of any contrary evidence showing that the defendant is insane or not telling the truth that he wanted to die during his escape attempt) that they have blood on their hands in this case - yet constantly try to place all manner of spectulative blood on the hands of death penalty opponents. But really, its exactly what I expected because those who spout personal responsibility for others the loudest are always the same who refuse to take any responsibility for themselves.

bill: "Of course he wouldn't have been around to try an escape to begin with if he'd been executed for his first go-round, now would he?"

me: um, did you even read the article - or an article on the case? His original offense was not a death penalty elgible offense - it was the kidnapping and sexual assault of an 18 year old woman. You know very well that my every inclination is to not like this defendant. Maybe some strategic snipping would have prevented this.

bill: "If a point be made of it, however, I take more responsibility for what I say just by signing my name here than you ever have -- posting, as you always do, from behind the veil of anonymity."

me: Yes, you are a bold warrior always out to battle the latest strawman. And you seem to think that shooting fish in the barrel, I mean representing the Government in the Fourth Circuit, somehow proves your brilliance and establishes your legitimacy. That is assuming of course, that you are in fact the real Bill Otis and not someone who is simply using the name to establish legitimacy. Sometimes I wonder or wonder if there is more than one person using the Bill Otis handle since that would explain why sometimes you post very thoughtful and interesting stuff - and sometimes you just sound like a bully. I'm thinking the bully is the imposter Bill Otis.

But anyway, its just entertaining to see you call anyone who disagrees with you part of the Amerika Stinks (again, why the constant hostility towards Erikas? I'm going to keep asking this until you get it) crowd while attacking people for speaking anonymously. Its rather ironic or moronic or some sort of ronic that you would do that :P

ginny at least until Bill gets it :)

Posted by: virginia | Oct 28, 2011 8:03:01 AM

ginny --

It is really too much to believe that a fellow who's attempting to escape is attempting to escape?

This man is a dangerous, violent person. Absent infallible prison security -- and it is absent, as you surely know -- there is a high probability he's going to do in again. This is partcularly true if he's suicidal, but true in any event. Do you actually propose to leave him free to do it, when legally we could put it to a certain stop?

It's true that I can adopt a respectful, conversational tone or a more aggressive one, or a lot of stuff in between. It largely depends on whom I'm talking to. If it's a serious, smart, fair-minded liberal like Jonathan Edelstein or Marc Shepherd, it's going to be the former. If it's a belligerent, arrogant, vulgar and juvenile bomb-thrower, like Huh?, it's going to be the latter.

I am one of the more conservative commenters on a site dominated by liberals and, in particular, by defense lawyers. It is an absolutely classic practice by a great many liberals to try to put conservatives on the defensive by simply assuming that liberalism is the more popular and/or more moral position.

In fact it is neither, and my posting on this forum isn't going to indulge liberal pretensions no matter how much they snarl about it. Contrary to the superior position they assume for themselves, the DP has a strong majority in this country and has had for decades. Stern prison sentences also have a majority, because they have worked to roll back the criminal tide of the 60's and 70's. Liberals don't want to hear it, and they don't want to talk about these facts, or the reasons why they're facts, but I will. This will strike some people, as it apparently strikes you, as aggressiveness. I don't think so. It's nothing more or less than an unwillingness to cede to liberalism a victory it hasn't earned. What it has earned instead is public distrust, which is exactly what it gets. Over the last generation, the public has seen that conservative solutions to crime -- prison and the death penalty -- work.

If liberals were inclined consistently to apply the "evidence-based" approach they say they prefer, they would admit this. But they won't. The reason for this is that it's not, and never was, about evidence. It wouldn't make a particle of difference to them if crime rates had dropped 95% instead of "merely" 45% during the age of "Incarceration Nation" and a thousand executions.

I will continue to make the conservative case, and will do so without apologizing, no apologies being owed.

And speaking of evidence.....It would indeed take a liberal to try to make a weakness out of the strong record the Eastern District of Virginia had with the Fourth Circuit when I was there. Of course, if the Fourth Circuit were going my way just because of an off-the-wall, one-sided ideology, it would have had, say, the Ninth Circuit's record in the SCOTUS. Did it?

Nimwits like albeed often try to make it seem that I should be ashamed of having represented the United States (or, as he says, the "gubermint") in federal court. It sounds like you might be with him on that. Are you? If so, good luck. I am, quite to the contrary, proud to have had that job, instead of spending my career seeing if I could wheedle a windfall for some hoodlum, strongarm, doper, rapist or swindler.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 28, 2011 10:35:21 AM

Claudio:

Thank you for the info at 3:52 A.M.

Posted by: Fred | Oct 28, 2011 12:50:17 PM

"no additional punishment"

If the person is not in a Supermax prison when they did so, are you saying such prisons are not really harsher or that they are "torture"?

The basic point is true -- it is a hard case -- though the problems with the system as a whole doesn't disappear. The specific case -- as here where he very well might want to die and you are in effect helping him -- can be problematic even in these cases. If we are left with crystal clear cases of non-insane Supermax inmates who murdered in the case of escape, it would be a very hard case. But, many more than that are involved.

As usual, the most extreme cases aren't all we have to deal with when deciding if a thing should be allowed. Isolating the tiny number involved is harder. Notable also that many states and nations had to deal with this and didn't have the death penalty. Some judgment was made even then that it was not the right thing to do.

Posted by: Joe | Oct 28, 2011 3:53:53 PM

Bill, your almost comical blindness to the fact that you constantly do everything that you project onto the liberal strawmen that you constantly fight is actually kind of endearing. I mean, to a bratty liberal, teasing you is pretty much an endless source of entertainment.

but by all means, keep trying to defend the failed ideology of Conservatism.

And quit picking on women named Erika with this Amerika stinks refrain (I'm starting to think you're even more clueless than I thought) ;)

ginny :)

Posted by: virginia | Oct 28, 2011 6:27:37 PM

ginny --

You must be having a bad day. I know you can do better than that.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 28, 2011 7:34:16 PM

bill, you're right and I'm sorry.

Posted by: virginia | Oct 31, 2011 8:09:03 AM

ginny --

Thank you. Not a problem. Everyone has bad days.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 31, 2011 10:25:53 AM

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