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November 23, 2011

Oregon Governor halts upcoming execution, declares moratorium, and pushes for state repeal

As detailed in this local story from Oregon, on Tuesday "Gov. John Kitzhaber ... placed a moratorium on all executions, issued a temporary reprieve stopping the Dec. 6 execution of Gary Haugen and urged Oregonians to 'find a better solution' to a system that he said is arbitrary, expensive and 'fails to meet basic standards of justice'."  Here is more:

"In my mind, it is a perversion of justice," Kitzhaber said at a crowded news conference, his voice strained and uncharacteristically quavering at times.  "I refuse to be a part of this compromised and inequitable system any longer and I will not allow further executions while I am governor."

His decision comes just two weeks before Haugen, 49, was to die by lethal injection and after months of legal showdowns over the twice-convicted murderer's mental competence. Haugen appeared to overcome the last obstacle Monday when the state Supreme Court allowed the execution to proceed.  Kitzhaber said he made up his mind last week and wanted to wait for the legal issues to play out before making a public declaration.

It remains to be seen what will happen now.  Oregonians have abolished and reinstated the death penalty several times since it was first enacted in 1864, and Kitzhaber said he did not know if people will support repealing capital punishment.

Based on the governor's past, Haugen did not think Kitzhaber would intervene, said his attorney, Steven Gorham.  The reprieve for Haugen remains in place as long as Kitzhaber is governor.  It is too soon to say what Haugen will do, said Gorham, who had not yet spoken to the inmate.  But Gorham said he expects the decision will greatly disappoint Haugen, who chose execution as a political protest and a path to freedom from the confines of death row.

The Oregon Governor Kitzhaber's statement in support of this decision can be accessed at this link, and here are a few passages of note:

Oregonians have a fundamental belief in fairness and justice -- in swift and certain justice.  The death penalty as practiced in Oregon is neither fair nor just; and it is not swift or certain.  It is not applied equally to all.  It is a perversion of justice that the single best indicator of who will and will not be executed has nothing to do with the circumstances of a crime or the findings of a jury.  The only factor that determines whether someone sentenced to death in Oregon is actually executed is that they volunteer. The hard truth is that in the 27 years since Oregonians reinstated the death penalty, it has only been carried out on two volunteers who waived their rights to appeal....

And while it may be convenient to blame lengthy and expensive death penalty trials and appeals on inmates “working the system,” the truth is courts (and society) continue to reinterpret when, how and under what circumstances it is acceptable for the state to kill someone.  Over time, those options are narrowing.   Courts are applying stricter standards and continually raising the bar for prosecuting death penalty cases.  Consider that it was only six years ago that the U.S. Supreme Court reversed itself and held that it is unconstitutional to impose capital punishment on those under the age of 18.  For a state intent on maintaining a death penalty, the inevitable result will be bigger questions, fewer options and higher costs.

It is time for Oregon to consider a different approach.  I refuse to be a part of this compromised and inequitable system any longer; and I will not allow further executions while I am Governor.

November 23, 2011 at 01:08 AM | Permalink

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Comments

And like a coward, he kept it to himself until after his reelection.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Nov 23, 2011 7:20:25 AM

MikeinCT --

Spot on. Abolitionists will cheer this as a man who finally lives up to principle, but what would they think of a governor who said this: "As a candidate, I said I would impose a DP moratorium. But as governor, and now having had the chance to review in detail the awful facts about the murderers who seek clemency, I cannot in conscience stand in the way of the judgment of the jury and years of judicial review. While I am governor, executions lawfully ordered by this state's judicial system will proceed."

Think such a governor would get a bunch of kudos for following his conscience?

Ha!

I am alternately appalled and amused that abolitionists think they are the only people who have a conscience. Their arrogance is just mind-bending.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 23, 2011 8:11:16 AM

Three cheers for Oregon's governor! A man of courage, conviction, and conscience.

Posted by: anon3 | Nov 23, 2011 9:08:21 AM

LWOP is a death sentence in another form.

Posted by: mary | Nov 23, 2011 9:13:34 AM

Couldn't this SOB have had the decency to NOT mention the victims' families? It really is amazing. Victims' families have no say as to whether they get that status, yet a$$holes like Kitzhaber will choose to cruelly keep them in limbo for years because he doesn't like the death penalty.

Kitzhaber is a liar, and a Democrat, but I repeat myself. Kitzhaber has earned the white-hot hatred of victims' families. I despise this self-righteous jerk.

Posted by: federalist | Nov 23, 2011 9:14:49 AM

anon3 --

"Three cheers for Oregon's governor! A man of courage, conviction, and conscience."

Then why did he wait until after the election to announce this, rather than advertise it as part of his platform?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 23, 2011 9:24:06 AM

mary --

"LWOP is a death sentence in another form."

Thank you for stating forthrightly the thinking that really lies at the heart of the abolitionist movement. Although it's not true of all of them, it's true of many more than admit it: The smooth assurance that ironclad LWOP would replace a repealed death penalty is a lie. As soon as the ink is dry on the bill repealing the DP, the same people who make that assurance will discover that, as you aptly put if, "LWOP is a death sentence in another form." So their assurance will go over the side of the boat, and we'll all be lectured on how barbaric we are for backing long term imprisonment.

Far out!

As I've said before, the real emotional engine of the Left is not merely that the American DP is wrong.It's that America is such a stinking cauldron of capitalism, racism, militarism, etc., et al, that
it lacks the moral authority to impose any serious punishment on anyone for anything.

Many of them deny it, but the mask has slipped too often.


Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 23, 2011 9:39:58 AM

Bill Otis

Jerry Brown is doing the same thing in California, he just hasn't announced it yet.

Posted by: DaveP | Nov 23, 2011 9:40:52 AM

federalist --

"Couldn't this SOB have had the decency to NOT mention the victims' families?"

No.

Politicians like this need to feign compassion for victims' families -- the demands of PR being what they are -- but feigning is as far as it goes. What they actually do once the cameras stop rolling is snicker. They score brownie points with their Soros-like contributors, and they get invitations from pro-crime groups to come receive the Annual Wonderfulness of the Year Award, while victims' families can go to a warm place.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 23, 2011 9:54:06 AM

"And like a coward, he kept it to himself until after his reelection."

If the state court "Monday" took the last obstacle away, how would he know that this would be the only means to stop the execution a few weeks back? As the article noted:

"Kitzhaber said he made up his mind last week and wanted to wait for the legal issues to play out before making a public declaration."

As to the families, yes, this sounds so very slimy:

"Kitzhaber said he contacted the families before his news conference. "Unquestionably, this decision will delay the closure that they deserve," he said. "My heart goes out to them."

He didn't have to contact the families. And, for those against the death penalty (or specific cases, such as death penalty for child rapists), families of victims are hurt by the process too. The system in place drags out their misery and sense of closure and some victim families want no part of the death penalty.

As to the cheap partisan shot, Ron Paul has come against the death penalty too as have other Republicans in various cases. Justice Kennedy is of course a Republican and is for it in only limited cases.

Kitzhaber did not simply commute all the sentences. This very person could be executed when he leaves office if the situation stays the same. His past actions underline the cheap shots -- even if one disagrees with his position (and one can disagree with giving executives such power) -- are just that.

As to Mary's position, that doesn't make much sense. The person is not killed. Everyone dies at some point. I guess if a 70 year old man who murders someone gets any sentence of much length it is also a "death" sentence. That is a too easy use of words for my tastes. If something changes, such as new DNA evidence is found, the so called "death" sentence of the person in prison won't quite seem to be the same either.

Posted by: Joe | Nov 23, 2011 9:59:51 AM

One more thing ... Kennedy v. Louisiana cited expert testimony as to how executing child rapists might harm the victims involved in various cases.

Posted by: Joe | Nov 23, 2011 10:13:21 AM

Joe --

"Kitzhaber said he contacted the families before his news conference. "Unquestionably, this decision will delay the closure that they deserve," he said. "My heart goes out to them."

And you actually believe this? By what principle of verification?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 23, 2011 10:26:36 AM

Joe, you're really full of it. First off, he didn't have to contact the families, and he also didn't have to mention them in his self-righteous press statements either. Second, let's get this right--this POS Kitzhaber decided to elevate the interests of murderers over victims' families. Even victims' families who oppose the death penalty should not have these cases subject to the delays etc. I would suspect that the vast majority of victims' families don't want the drama.

And only a real a$$hole like Kitzhaber would actually have the balls to say "My heart goes out to them." when he decided to elevate the supposed right of heartless killers to have whatever he deems to be an "equitable" death penalty over their interests.

Kitzhaber doesn't like the death penalty. Fine. Say so, and leave actual victims' families out of it. And he should at least be intellectually honest enough to forthrightly say what he is doing (i.e., elevating these murderers' interests over those of the victims' families). Typical Democrat. Lie about your intentions; offer faux sympathy and help criminals.

Kitzhaber is a moral pygmy. He's a liar. Unfit for polite company.

Posted by: federalist | Nov 23, 2011 10:42:03 AM

Bill, do you have any "verifiable" reason to doubt it? The guy twice didn't stop executions even though his profession (physician) and beliefs ran counter to it, so that alone to me suggests someone who is not just kneejerk. But, unlike some, I really have no ability to judge the guy that much since I don't know him and live 3000 miles away from the state where he governs.

F., if you read what I said, I already said that he didn't have to contact the families, but it to me seems the right thing to do. If you don't want to believe him, fine, but the notification and comment implies he cares about them and is taking their concerns into consideration. It would have been better for him in fact to simply ignore them in a way since by bringing them up, he sets himself as a target for people like yourself.

There are many people against the death penalty -- it is duly noted that you ignored that various Republicans are as well -- and the reasons (even if you find them specious) rest on various principled grounds that include the belief that it is not the best path overall, that includes respecting victims of crimes.

As to the delays, again, if you read what I said, I cited that this is a problem with the current system. To the degree the delays arise because of court and other processes that address concerns tied to capital punishment itself, and the governor believes his state's system is unjust in that sense, ending capital punishment would deal with the issue.

Name calling isn't going to convince any one. Victims families can't be left out of it. They are a major part of the equation. When opponents don't bring them up, they are damned as ignoring the victims. When they express sympathy etc., they are targeted by some too, including by your petty name calling. That is far from convincing argument, of the damn if they do, damn if they don't school.

Disagreeing with you on a major sensitive issue is not being "full of it." If you can't disagree without some degree of respect, it really just comes off as ranting. Again, I see a lot of that on this special interest legal blog. It is a bit curious to me.

Posted by: Joe | Nov 23, 2011 11:10:21 AM

"...abolitionists think they are the only people who have a conscience."

Often true, not only in this context - how many people who say that this governor took this job and ought to enforce the laws or change them, but then also support so-called health care conscience laws for pharmacists and health care workers. Conscience for me, not for thee, the abolitionist's tale often goes.

The governor does not say so expressly, but he seems to suggest that one reason for this moratorium is that it takes so darn long for the death sentence to be carried out. I have no sympathy for anti-DP types who argue the length of time between sentencing and execution is grounds for commutation, just as I have no sympathy for pro-DP types who argue simultaneously that there are no PROVEN instances of a factually innocent person being executed (which is true post-Furman) while complaining that it takes too long after sentencing to execute the condemned.

Let's say we could agree that condemned persons should be executed within 5 years of sentencing. If that were the case, here is a PARTIAL list of factually innocent persons that would have been wrongfully executed (along with their state and time on death row): Michael Blair (TX-14yrs); Kirk Bloodsworth (IL-8yrs); Kennedy Brewer (MS-7yrs); Rolando Cruz (IL-10yrs); Charles Fain (IN-17yrs); Frank Lee Smith (FL-14yrs, died in prison); Dennis Williams (IL-17yrs). Again, this is a partial list of factually innocent persons put to death by the state for no morally justified reason other than that it could.

So for anti-DP types who believe that the length of time is grounds to commute a sentence - be careful what you wish for. For pro-DP types who believe that the length of time should be shortened - what more can be said?

Posted by: C | Nov 23, 2011 11:16:18 AM

Joe --

"Name calling isn't going to convince any one."

But you have never once said this when those on your side have called federalist, Kent, me and others Nazis, bloodlusters, Neanderthals, savages and more recently pedophiles and necrophiliacs.

Pretty selective indignation there, Joe.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 23, 2011 11:42:24 AM

Bill,

Don't forget "anachronism."

Posted by: anon | Nov 23, 2011 11:48:46 AM

C stated: "Let's say we could agree that condemned persons should be executed within 5 years of sentencing. If that were the case, here is a PARTIAL list of factually innocent persons that would have been wrongfully executed (along with their state and time on death row): Michael Blair (TX-14yrs); Kirk Bloodsworth (IL-8yrs); Kennedy Brewer (MS-7yrs); Rolando Cruz (IL-10yrs); Charles Fain (IN-17yrs); Frank Lee Smith (FL-14yrs, died in prison); Dennis Williams (IL-17yrs). Again, this is a partial list of factually innocent persons put to death by the state for no morally justified reason other than that it could."

Your argument is based on the false premise that number of years between sentencing and execution is what saved all of these men. In many cases, it is not. There is no reason that an equally or more effective system cannot be put into place that takes 5 years or less.

And the last sentence of the quoted section is ridiculous. Isn't a jury verdict of your peers a better "morally justified reason" for putting someone on death row than "because[the state] could?"

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Nov 23, 2011 11:53:48 AM

"Typical Democrat. Lie about your intentions"

Wow, federalist you just lost my respect. After the Republicans lied our way into Iraq and cost thousands of families their sons and daughters and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives. Just one of many Republican lies. Shame on you!

Posted by: anon3 | Nov 23, 2011 11:55:56 AM

anon3,

Being wrong does not equal a lie.

I wish Progressives would get that premise.

The major intelligence agencies, including those that did not agree with the invasion like France and Russia, all believed there were WMD in Iraq. Not that we need to relitigate that here.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Nov 23, 2011 12:01:13 PM

TQ: The moral justification for the death penalty is not that the death penalty was assessed by a jury of the condemned's peers, but because there is a moral justification for death as punishment for the wrong committed.

Our law recognizes this by identifying only the most serious crimes as punishable by death. For example, murder of a child under the age of X is a capital offense in some states - jaywalking is not in any state (not because of the 8th Amendment, but because no state would find, if allowed, the death penalty to be morally justified against a jaywalker).

There is certainly a legal justification for executing a factually innocent person that has been condemned to death by a jury (which is why state execution of a factually innocent person is not murder) but without guilt, the state's moral justification goes away. In Iran, for example, the state is legally justified in stoning adulterers because, well, that's their law; but in the USA we condemn the practice because we do not find stoning to death to be a morally justified punishment for for the offense of adultery.

As for your other point, I am not entirely sure what you mean. Are you suggesting that factually innocent persons who were on death row for a decade or longer could have been released from incarceration in 5 years or less with a more efficient system? If you are, I'm all ears because now you may be on to something.

Thank you for the thoughtful reply.

Posted by: C | Nov 23, 2011 12:03:55 PM

I see his remarks in a totally different light than most people on this thread. I don't see in his remarks an outright rejection of the death penalty. What I see in his remarks is an outright rejection of the death penalty /system/, which is an entirely different matter. But apparently death penalty supporter see this stance as a subterfuge and death penalty opponents don't care because pragmatically they get the results they want.

I agree 100% that our death penalty system is broken. Whether death penalty supporters like it or not the other side has won as a matter of functional reality. The same people who claim that the death penalty system is working are the same people who claim the war on drugs is working. They put the formal legal expression of their subjective values above and beyond the actual instantiation of those values.

What we have now is a system that spends a great deal of money to achieve exactly nothing. Whether that be the death penalty or the war on drugs. That system was never sustainable and I applaud the governor for saying loudly what no one wants to hear: the emperor has no cloths.

Posted by: Daniel | Nov 23, 2011 12:08:55 PM

C --

Instead of hypotheticals, why don't you identify a factually innocent person who has been executed in, say, the past 50 years? And his factual innocence cannot be established by one-sided, partisan howling. It has to be established by some neutral and authoritative body, such as a court or even the ABA.

Got anything for us?

After that, could you comment on the Ninth Circuit's unanimous decision in Allen v. Woodford, 395 F. 3d 979, cert. den., 126 S.Ct. 134 (2005)? It ends this way:

"Evidence of Allen's guilt is overwhelming. Given the nature of his crimes, sentencing him to another life term would achieve none of the traditional purposes underlying punishment. Allen continues to pose a threat to society, indeed to those very persons who testified against him in the Fran's Market triple-murder trial here at issue, and has proven that he is beyond rehabilitation. He has shown himself more than capable of arranging murders from behind bars. If the death penalty is to serve any purpose at all, it is to prevent the very sort of murderous conduct for which Allen was convicted."


Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 23, 2011 12:18:31 PM

Bill you may have missed my point. I in fact wrote, "there are no PROVEN instances of a factually innocent person being executed (which is true post-Furman)." I am not going to give you an example of something I have previously acknowledged does not exist.

Allen v. Woodford is not particularly responsive. In all likelihood, the defendant there is guilty as charged, and I am neutral on the DP, so if he has been so sentenced, there you have it. And evidence of an incarcerated person's guilt is often overwhelming - until it no longer is. For that, see the cases I referenced. And that was the point I was trying to make.

Posted by: C | Nov 23, 2011 12:30:42 PM

C --

Your first paragraph is correct, and I regret having neglected your earlier statement.

Your second paragrapsh is incorrect. Allen v. Woodford is very much on point, because it illustrates that it was not the death penalty, but the hesitancy to impose the death penalty (on Allen, for his first murder), that brought about the killing of the innocent.

State involvement in killing the innocent happens all the time (big construction projects, war, allowing high speed limits and more) The principal relevant question for our purposes here is whether more of it will happen with or without the death penalty. The lesson of the Woodford case, and of Kenneth McDuff, and of numerous scholarly studies about deterrence, and of anecdotal evidence noted by, among others, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) is that the DP saves vastly more innocent life than it takes.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 23, 2011 12:47:34 PM

None of the instances you suggest where there is state involvement in innocent lives being lost are have you described an instance where the state sets out to take the life of a particular person. These are also instances where the state has a particular moral duty to take every available precaution to avoid the loss of innocent lives. When a state commences a large construction project, it does so with the knowledge that innocent persons may die in the process, but with every intention of avoiding that result. Even in cases of war, states have an obligation (some do not recognize it) to avoid needless loss of innocent life. It is a fact and natural course of life that whether the state does nothing or does something, people will die.

When a state condemns a person to death, it is the state's purpose to kill that particular person, intentionally. Therein lies the difference.

As for the Allen case, I would want to know what steps the authorities took or did not take to render Allen, presumably a person known to be very dangerous, incapable of further harm before I would be willing to blame the death of another on the failure to quickly execute him. I do not accept the premise that there is nothing that can be done to stop prison violence (I haven't had the chance to read the case).

Posted by: C | Nov 23, 2011 1:38:34 PM

Bill,

Don't be too upset

You've still got the little kiddies...

www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDbAxhV2ofM

Posted by: anon | Nov 23, 2011 1:39:26 PM

C stated: "The moral justification for the death penalty is not that the death penalty was assessed by a jury of the condemned's peers, but because there is a moral justification for death as punishment for the wrong committed."

Ok, but doesn't the moral justification just shift from the jury verdict to the "will of the people" electing representatives who mirror that will? That is far different than a government executing "because it can" (See NK, Iran, etc.). This is no different than incarceration. Picking someone up off the street and keeping them against their will is considered "immoral." However, the government is "morally justified" in doing it under certain circumstances (a person found guilty of certain crimes) because we have given them authority and permission to do so.

C stated: "Are you suggesting that factually innocent persons who were on death row for a decade or longer could have been released from incarceration in 5 years or less with a more efficient system? If you are, I'm all ears because now you may be on to something."

Yes, that is my point. The 10+ years it takes to go through the appeals process is artificial. We impose the limitations that make the process take so long on the system. I am not an attorney nor am I smart enough to give specific guidelines but I fail to believe that a round of appeals cannot be heard 3 months after a verdict by putting DP cases at the front of the line. It was not that someone's appeal was heard 17 years later that saved the condemned man, it is that it was heard at all. Move them up.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Nov 23, 2011 1:40:03 PM

Daniel,

It is not nearly enough to state that the system is broken and your side "won." Debate does not work like that.

What I would like is a definition of a system that "works", in your opinion. I doubt you will ever give a realistic one because you and your side do not want a system that "works."

I would also like to know why abolitionists seem to imply that "the system" ends at sentencing. In the abby worldview, if a person is convicted and sentenced to death, the system did not work regardless if a wrongful conviction was overturned 1,5,10, or 17 years later. I see wrongful convictions being overturned as successes, not failures. That is why we have appeals.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Nov 23, 2011 1:54:18 PM

"After that, could you comment on the Ninth Circuit's unanimous decision in Allen v. Woodford, 395 F. 3d 979, cert. den., 126 S.Ct. 134 (2005)? It ends this way:

"Evidence of Allen's guilt is overwhelming. Given the nature of his crimes, sentencing him to another life term would achieve none of the traditional purposes underlying punishment. Allen continues to pose a threat to society, indeed to those very persons who testified against him in the Fran's Market triple-murder trial here at issue, and has proven that he is beyond rehabilitation. He has shown himself more than capable of arranging murders from behind bars. If the death penalty is to serve any purpose at all, it is to prevent the very sort of murderous conduct for which Allen was convicted.""


Bill, I find it odd that you turn to the 9th Circuit for support when you agree with its holdings, but you denigrate and mock it when it reaches decisions you disagree with.

Posted by: Bubba from Texas | Nov 23, 2011 2:04:56 PM

TQ:

When you suggest pre-trial incarceration you are implicating, you raise some competing issues not related to factual guilt - pre-trial incarceration is a temporary (in theory, I know) procedural process, not one based upon factual guilt.

A society establishes that certain actions are crimes. Let's pick one - robbery. That society establishes a period of incarceration for that crime - let's say 10 years. Person X commits robbery and is convicted. He is sentenced to 10 years. That sentence is both legally and morally justified.

Person Y is factually innocent of the crime of robbery but due to police misconduct, witness misidentification, Brady violation, negligence, you name it, is arrested, tried and convicted of the offense and sentenced to 10 years. The state has a legal justification for incarcerating person Y, but no moral justification. His incarceration is morally wrong.

Person Z is factually guilty of robbery, however, for whatever reason you care to choose, he is acquitted at trial. Person Z is still morally guilty of the offense, but the state has no legal authority to incarcerate him.

The decision of a jury can only have an effect on a person's legal status. The jury's decision cannot make a morally innocent person factually guilty, nor can it absolve a morally guilty person of that moral guilt.

As for the second point, I don't think your suggestion logically follows. The reason the people falsely convicted were ultimately found to be factually innocent was not related to anything that happened in the appeals process. The reason the people were ultimately exonerated is because something broke regarding the case that revealed the person to be factually innocent. My question was not can appeals be made to process quicker - they obviously can. The question was: Are you suggesting that factually innocent persons who were on death row for a decade or longer could have been released from incarceration in 5 years or less with a more efficient system? You answer in the affirmative, but that answer does not logically flow from your reasoning.

Posted by: C | Nov 23, 2011 2:20:15 PM

"Instead of hypotheticals, why don't you identify a factually innocent person who has been executed in, say, the past 50 years? And his factual innocence cannot be established by one-sided, partisan howling. It has to be established by some neutral and authoritative body, such as a court or even the ABA."

Bill, tell me what evidence would satisfy you that X was factually innocent of murder after X was executed ? Would it be Z coming forward after the execution saying that he was the guilty party. Who would do so? In any event, why should or would anyone believe X? How do we know that X is telling the truth? Would it purported eyewitness, A, coming forward saying he saw X do it, but was too frighted or threatened to come forward earlier? Why should we believe A?

Posted by: Bubba from Texas | Nov 23, 2011 2:26:38 PM

Bubba --

1. What I think of the Ninth Circuit as a general matter is utterly irrelevant. The question is whether you can put forth any reason for questioning its analysis in the Woodford case. Can you? What is it?

2. "[W]hat evidence would satisfy you that X was factually innocent of murder after X was executed?"

The judgment of a court after review was completed by higher courts (e.g., in a wrongful death suit), or the judgment of a commission appointed by Congress.

It's nonsense to blame me because your side lacks the proof of its claims. When you don't have the proof, don't make the claim until you get it. For a bunch of anonymous Internet posters to stomp their feet and insist that X was innocent, when the jury and numerous reviewing courts have concluded otherwise, is simply an exercise in silliness.

Not that it makes all that much difference. Even proof that John Wayne Gacy was innocent would not mean that we were wrong to execute Timothy McVeigh. This is not all that hard to grasp.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 23, 2011 3:28:01 PM

Before we could know how many innocents were executed we would have to have and test DNA evidence from all those cases over the last 50 years. Bill, of course, knows that.

Posted by: Winston Smith | Nov 23, 2011 3:39:36 PM

TarlsQtr

What do you mean "my side". I'm a death penalty proponent albeit I think it should be used rarely. But I certainly don't believe that the death penalty is unconstitutional.

The system is broke. Only a blind fool thinks otherwise. Quite frankly those who wish to debate this issue are just spitting into the wind. There is no deep cultural support for a meaningful death penalty; it simply doesn't exist. I don't make that statement because I want it to be true; I make that statement because it is true.

Sometimes in order to win a war one has to admit they lost a battle. If you or Bill or others want to fall on your swords that's fine by me. But I resent you spending my money to do it. There are other values that are more important. The day when we could spend money to soothe every itch is over with. Is that fair? Nope. Is that just? Nope. But that's the reality this country faces today. Get over it and be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

Posted by: Daniel | Nov 23, 2011 4:12:56 PM

As to the suggestion he was against the system, not the penalty itself, I'm willing to accept that. And, since life can be only taken with due process of law, the net result would be the same for the foreseeable future. I would need to read more into the case to decide and appreciate the balanced comments on the subject from "a death penalty proponent," many of whom are able to be in a reasoned fashion.

Posted by: Joe | Nov 23, 2011 4:51:42 PM

@Bubba
So you've finally given up your troll routine and ask a half way intelligent question? Bravo.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Nov 23, 2011 5:04:18 PM

I wonder if the governor even looked at Haugen's case before issuing the stay. He has already killed behind bars once and is not afraid to die. What if he does it again now that his desire to die has been ignored? This had happened with two other prison killers that I can think of, Robert Gleason and Robert Vickers, and it can always happen again.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Nov 23, 2011 5:13:50 PM

MikeinCt, Bill Otis

do you know how many, if any, cases from Oregon have reached the 9th Circuit over the years? I can't recall any.
Kitzhaber placed great emphasis that the only executions Oregon has carried out were ones with volunteers. Of course it's not going to work unless the cases move through the courts in a somewhat timely fashion. So, what has been the holdup in Oregon?

Posted by: DaveP | Nov 23, 2011 6:23:40 PM

"So you've finally given up your troll routine and ask a half way intelligent question? Bravo."

MikeinCt, here'a another question. Why shouldn't governor Kithaber in Oregon be praised for his actions in light of corrupt prosecutors who routinely hide favorable evidence from the defense and the courts? See e.g., Texas v. Morton (Williamson County, Texas No. 86-452-K26) (2011) (just google “Michael Morton”) (Michael Morton exonerated by DNA evidence after murder conviction and 25 years in prison in case in which prosecutors hid Brady evidence and fought his exoneration every step of the way). But then Texas is not alone is it? My first question is how can we trust that any given prosecutor has not done the same thing? Sometimes, as in the Morton case, it takes 20 years to discover their pefidy. In others, not so long, but perfidy is perfidy.

See LaCaze v. Leger, 645 F.3d 728 (5th Cir. 2011) (second degree murder conviction and 40-year sentence vacated because prosecution hid from defense and the court that it gave assurance it to its key witness that his son would not be prosecuted for driving him the murder scene); Sivak v. Hardison 658 F.3d 898 (9th Cir. 2011) (prosecutor’s failure to correct informant’s false testimony that he had no deal with prosecution requires vacating of death sentence); Lambert v. Beard, 633 F.3d 126 (3rd Cir. 2011) (murder conviction vacated under Brady where prosecution failed to disclose inconsistent statement of its critical witness that named a person other than the defendant as the killer); U.S. v. Kohring 637 F.3d 895 (9th Cir. 2011) (Withheld evidence that key government witness had allegedly sexually exploited minors was material for purposes of defendant's Brady/Giglio claim warranting reversal of conviction); Johnson v. Florida 44 So.3d 51 (2010) (“The reversal of the death sentences in this case is directly attributable to the misconduct of the original prosecutor. He knowingly presented false testimony and misleading argument to the court…”); William v. Ryan 623 F.3d 1258 (9th Cir. 2010) (case remanded for evidentiary hearing on whether defendant prejudiced where prosecutor suppressed evidence suggesting an alternate person was the perpetrator which is "classic Brady material."); Stanley v. Schriro 598 F.3d 612 (9th Cir. 2010) (“Moreover, the increasing frequency with which innocent people have been vindicated after years of imprisonment counsels a different approach. See Samuel R. Gross et al., Exonerations in the United States 1989 through 2003, 95 J. CRIM. L. & CRIMINOLOGY 523, 523-24 (2004) (noting that from 1989 through 2003 exonerated individuals “spent more than 3,400 years in prison for crimes for which they should never have been convicted . . .”). We note this phenomenon, not to imply that Stanley is innocent, but to emphasize that it is never too late to correct an injustice.”); State ex rel. Engel v. Dormire, 304 S.W. 3d 120 ( Mo. 2010) (kidnapping conviction reversed where state failed to disclose letter suggesting that a prosecution witness had been paid for his testimony); Valdovinos v. McGrath, 598 F.3d 568 (9th Cir. 2010) (murder conviction vacated because "a pattern of non-disclosure permeated the proceedings against [petitioner]" which deprived petitioner of due process.); Robinson v. Mills, 592 F.3d 730 (6th Cir. 2010) (murder conviction vacated where prosecution suppressed material impeachment information concerning its key witness, Sims; namely that that Sims had worked as a paid informant for at least three local and state law enforcement agencies in multiple cases); U.S. v. Johnson 592 F.3d 164 (C.A.D.C.,2010) (conviction for possessing heroin with intent to distribute vacated because of government's failure to disclose evidence that heroin found in defendant's bedroom was actually owned by his cousin); Cone v. Bell, 129 S.Ct. 1769 (U.S.,2009) (Remand was required, on petition for habeas corpus from Tennessee murder conviction and death sentence for review of the effect of prosecution’s suppression of evidence regarding the seriousness of defendant's drug problem on his sentence); Gonnella v. State, 686 S.E.2d 644 (Ga.,2009) (murder conviction reversed where prosecutor failed to disclose deal with accomplice); Simmons v. Beard, 590 F.3d 223 (3d Cir. 2009) (murder conviction and death penalty vacated because of due process violation where prosecutor failed to disclose that witness was pressured to cooperate and that a second witness committed perjury); Wilson v. Beard, 589 F.3d 651 (3d Cir. 2009) (murder conviction and sentence of death vacated because of prosecutor’s suppression of favorable information regarding witnesses criminal convictions and providing money to witnesses); Montgomery v. Bagley, 581 F.3d 440 (6th Cir. 2009) (murder conviction and death penalty vacated because of prosecutor’s failure to disclose exculpatory report from ‘witnesses who would have cast serious doubt on the State’s case.” U.S. v. Price, 566 F.3d 900 (9th Cir. 2009) (conviction reversed where prosecutor violated his due process duty under Brady to learn the results of investigation into criminal past of government witness); U.S. v. Reyes, 577 F.3d 1069 (9th Cir. 2009) (government violated due process by not disclosing favorable evidence discovered in parallel SEC proceedings); Douglas v. Workman, 560 F.3d 1156 (10th Cir. 2009) (murder conviction and death penalty vacated because of due process violation where prosecutor failed to disclose promise to key witness); Drake v. Portuondo, 553 F.3d 230 (2d Cir. 2009) (murder conviction vacated because of due process violation where prosecutor knew witness was testifying falsely); Harris v. Lafler, 553 F.3d 1028 (6th Cir. 2009) (murder conviction vacated because of due process violation where prosecutor suppressed promise to key witness); U.S. v. Robinson, 538 F.3d 1265 (10th Cir. 2009)(conviction reversed because of district court’s refusal to disclose informant’s mental health records to defense which violated Due Process); Hayes v. Brown, 399 F.3d 972 (9th Cir. 2005) (prosecutor presented false evidence to jury and failed to later correct the record);

MikeinCt, some "justice" system. My second question: And you want to impose the death penalty after a "fair" trial? Are these questions intelligent enough for you?

Posted by: Bubba from Texas | Nov 23, 2011 6:47:15 PM

Bill, a wrongful death suit can’t be used to get a judicial determination that X was factually innocent. I'd like that degree of certainty, too, but I can’t think of any legal action that would accomplish this. Wrongful death doesn't work because it is a kind of personal injury action. To be a wrongful death, X’s death would have to be proximately caused by the breach of some duty. Unless the government knew at the time of execution that X was factually innocent, it would not be breaching any duty when it executed him. In fact, it would be carrying out its duty.

That means the hypothetical scenarios for factual innocence could not lead a court to find a wrongful death. Not newly discovered DNA evidence. Not another man’s credible confession that he’s the real killer. Not some new-fangled forensic evidence. None of those things would even be cognizable because they don't show a breach of duty at the time of execution or proximate cause.

Posted by: arfarf | Nov 23, 2011 7:12:07 PM

Even if the death penalty is broken--that doesn't mean that Kitzhaber should have cruelly pulled out the rug from the widow here. And Kitzhaber, after hurting her, should have had the decency not to mention victims' families here. His decision had nothing to do with consideration for their feelings.

Posted by: federalist | Nov 23, 2011 8:36:40 PM

@Bubba
1. Haugen is not innocent and Haugen's prosecutor hid nothing.
2. Morton's case has no bearing here. He was a lifer and from another state. And if it does have a bearing here, it would work just as well in arguing no prisoner should have to serve time in the current system.
3. Haugen not only killed as a free man, but again as a prisoner. This means the only means by which to further punish him and protect society is to kill him.
4. DNA has yet to lead to the release of an Oregonian death row inmate.
5. The governor claimed the current system needs to be abolished for, among other things, taken too long which punishes the victims' families. So he delays the execution of Gary Haugen a further four years. The hypocrisy here is transparent.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Nov 23, 2011 9:15:47 PM

@Bubba
"Are these questions intelligent enough for you?"
It's certainly an improvement.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Nov 23, 2011 9:17:15 PM

"But you have never once said this when those on your side have called federalist, Kent, me and others Nazis, bloodlusters, Neanderthals, savages and more recently pedophiles and necrophiliacs."

I was responding to a personal attack on me. Not "my side," me personally.

I'm not here to police this blog though I have now and then made general statements on blogs about cheap shots on both sides. Strange as it might be to believe, it is actually, I have been called names for my "conservative" positions, and when personally attacked unfairly, called the people for it.

So don't worry. I've been there. Poor thing, you know, you are so polite.

Posted by: Joe | Nov 23, 2011 10:05:32 PM

I have proposed to take away the running of the criminal law from the lawyer, and to have others run it, professionals. They would know the technical aspects of punishment, changing human behavior, moderating aggression. Among my non-lawyer professional friends, the reaction has been unanimous: no. No matter how badly lawyers run the criminal law, people in other fields would make it worse. The Governor is a doctor. And is proving my unanimous friends correct.

He has just signed the death warrants of hundreds of future murder victims in prisons in his state, and immunized all crime after the first murder encouraging the latter by repeat offenders, with nothing to lose.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 24, 2011 10:11:37 AM

The really annoying thing about Kitzhaber's justification is that it's so obviously the product of fuzzy thinking.

Capital punishment is expensive--well let's make it more expensive by keeping this guy alive.

Capital punishment is immoral--well, let's not examine the morality of putting the woman Haugen made a widow through more hell.

Capital punishment is "inequitable"--what's the basis for assuming that capital murderers have some right to absolute fairness as between themselves.

The courts are slowing down capital punishment (but don't blame them), so the democratic process must cave.

Posted by: federalist | Nov 24, 2011 11:23:00 AM

He thinks the system is broken and that it is "undue" to execute someone via a broken system. What is "fuzzy" about that?

The cost to detain one more person in the system is trivial relatively speaking especially if doing so doesn't result in the state carrying out an improper execution. Just continuing, now and then, the old way will not change anything.

The "fuzzy" thinking is Federalist on the morality point. By bringing up the victims' pain, the governor IS examining the point. Federalist is the one who wanted the governor not to bring the victims up. Of course, someone would then call the governor names then for ignoring the victim.

The claim is not "absolute fairness" .. more "fuzziness." The argument is not enough fairness is in place. And, the obligation is for the state to carry it out fairly. It isn't merely in the interest of the target here. The state has an obligation to be fair. Its power is based on that assumption.

Also, the governor isn't saying not to blame the courts -- when appropriate -- for the problems in place. It isn't really the courts' fault if the death penalty is being applied badly. The courts have a job to do there -- apply the law. And, the only "caving" done here is not continuing a bad system.

For those who don't think the system is bad, sure, they are bothered about the criticism. They are often fuzzy about that.


Posted by: Joe | Nov 25, 2011 5:46:22 PM

Bubba's string-cites are as unconvincing as they are dishonest.

How many of the cases cited are from Oregon? He doesn't bother identifying any. Ergo, his list's relevance to the fairness of Oregon's procedures is tenuous at best.

And many of his cases had nothing to do with factual innocence at all. Stanley v. Schriro 598 F.3d 612, for instance, affirmed the factual guilt of the defendant. http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=4510697817145873808&hl=en&as_sdt=2&as_vis=1&oi=scholarr

Posted by: observer | Nov 25, 2011 7:47:49 PM

"Bubba's string-cites are as unconvincing as they are dishonest. "

Observer, I find Bubba's cites both honest and convincing. I also find the cases highly disturbing. Bubba asked Why should governor Kithaber in Oregon not be praised for his actions "in light of corrupt prosecutors who routinely hide favorable evidence from the defense and the courts." His cites amply support his point of view. Bubba did not claim that the defendants in those cases were innocent. He asked only how the public can trust that any given prosecutor has not done hid favorable evidence in any given case. Observer, can you honestly say that these cases do not cause you trouble?

Posted by: anon3 | Nov 25, 2011 8:03:53 PM

Very fuzzy, Joe, very fuzzy. It doesn't logically follow that Haugen must be spared because the "system" can't seem to get more guys to the needle. Haugen's sentence is a fair one. The widow has been led to believe that it would be carried out. Time to carry it out. Fitzhaber could have very easily allowed this one to go through and then declared his stupid moratorium. Moreover, "product of a broken system" is just silliness. It's a criminal judgment, and it is to be enforced. What is the death penalty system anyway?

Fitzhaber is an immoral POS.

Posted by: federalist | Nov 25, 2011 8:06:06 PM

Joe, you seem to think it's moral to pull the rug out from underneath Haugen's victim's widow, although you can't say it. That's an interesting sense of morality. As for "fairness"--good grief. There are always variables in a system where you have to get so many to agree to do something (i.e., a death sentence). Saying that a process that bends over backwards to vindicate rights is "unfair" to those for whom the bending over backwards is done IS (a) silly and (b) imposing a standard of absolute fairness.

And Joe, the issue with the victim's families is one of decency. Kitzhaber decided to yank the rug out from under the widow---he shouldn't have mentioned victims' families. The decision to postpone indefinitely Haugen's execution had nothing to do with consideration for the families. None.

Posted by: federalist | Nov 25, 2011 8:36:53 PM

i'm with youi anon3

this was especially telling!

"in light of corrupt prosecutors who routinely hide favorable evidence from the defense and the courts."

since it was jsut this year the great ones who are so full of it on the ussc tossed a verdict from texas over that very thing basicaly saying TOUGH SHIT!

sorry when someone can get a TEXAS jury to not only rule the INDIVIDUAL WAS INNOCENT but that the DA's office and the Police was so megligent and conducted so much criminal activity to hide evidence and witnesses that they award said invididual FOURTEEN MILLION dollars! you need to take those charges damn serious! for them to just blow it off as too bad. is a crime in itself

Heck i was just suprised the santiminous little shits didn't along with the revoking the the monetary award ORDER THE POOR GUY BACK TO PRISON for the very charge the state courts had just found him NOT GUILTY OF!

Posted by: rodsmith | Nov 26, 2011 12:51:14 AM

Being a doctor, the governor has an inherent economic conflict of interest. He wants the prisoners to die of natural causes, and to generate much injury and trauma care. The prisoners will almost all die a slow, painful, medically costly death. Each will cost about $300K before they die. If they survive, their organs will fail in a cascade of aging effects, generating massive medical costs for their non-fatal conditions. The governor likely has no awareness of this self-dealing. It expresses itself in an unjustified bias, especially against dark skinned crime victims. They suffer, white skinned doctors and health providers profit, make a great living.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 26, 2011 10:04:56 PM

>Very fuzzy, Joe, very fuzzy. It doesn't logically follow that Haugen must be spared because the "system" can't seem to get more guys to the needle. Haugen's sentence is a fair one.

This is a selective view of things. There are various reasons the system can be unfair & not providing "enough" death sentences isn't the only one. I have not read all the rulings etc. to know enough about how "fair" his specific sentence is but when executing people, using unfair systems is pretty risky. If a system that kills people is unfair, at some point, you have to stop using it.

>The widow has been led to believe that it would be carried out.

There is always a possibility that any number of judicial or executive moves will lead to a delay of an execution. The victims are "led" to believe many things just as some defendants are "led" to believe things.

>Time to carry it out. Fitzhaber could have very easily allowed this one to go through and then declared his stupid moratorium. Moreover, "product of a broken system" is just silliness. It's a criminal judgment, and it is to be enforced. What is the death penalty system anyway?

Then, the next person in line in execution, with victims involved, will benefit and you or someone else will complain, since after all, the system isn't really broken enough in yours opinions.

The governor is given the power to do this. All states don't give the governor the power. If you want judgments to "be enforced" w/o the possibility of this happening (including to victims of lesser crimes), have them change the law.

>Fitzhaber is an immoral POS.

Not shown. It's clear you disagree with him on the merits but you really haven't explained how your personal potshots at his character is justified, particularly my comment that when the victims are "ignored" people complain, but where he specifically actually shows sentiment for them (as to it being feigned, politicians feign concern all the time, even if he did here, which I won't just assume since I don't know him -- the concern is to address the victims and he did) he is denounced too. Damn if you do ...

>Joe, you seem to think it's moral to pull the rug out from underneath Haugen's victim's widow, although you can't say it. That's an interesting sense of morality.

If the governor honestly believes, as he is given the authority to do, that postponing the death sentence (he did not -- as he could -- simply commute all death sentences) is the best way to protect the sanctity of the system, he is not acting immorally, even if he can be shown to be wrong on the merits. As to the victim, he showed concern and notified her beforehand. I will not assume he is lying about caring about her and again note that if he didn't do this, you or someone else would call him names for forgetting about the victim.

>Saying that a process that bends over backwards to vindicate rights is "unfair" to those for whom the bending over backwards is done IS (a) silly and (b) imposing a standard of absolute fairness.

This is a usual comment but repeatedly again and again problems are pointed out and oh well look there needs to be reforms made. Looks like "absolute" fairness is not in place. And, if this, this and this is done, it still won't.

>And Joe, the issue with the victim's families is one of decency. Kitzhaber decided to yank the rug out from under the widow---he shouldn't have mentioned victims' families. The decision to postpone indefinitely Haugen's execution had nothing to do with consideration for the families. None.

Right. So, even though the execution deeply affects the family, and people will say that repeatedly, he should just ignore the family, instead of noting his sympathy and respect for their pain. Also he shouldn't even have notified the victim family's first or that is meaningless. They should just have heard it from the news.

I don't think that is true but even if it was true, it is quite reasonable to think it would be good to say something. He is not "pos" for doing so, even if misguided.

He postponed the execution -- and if the next governor wants to reestablish it, s/he can and maybe make it part of his/her platform -- because he thought it unjust to carry out a system he -- with the power given to him -- judged to be unfair enough not to justify it. The unfairness of the system hurts everyone, including in some small part, victim families.

I know you think the execution should have gone forth but difference of opinion on the merits doesn't justify your personal attack on his character.

Posted by: Joe | Nov 27, 2011 8:30:44 AM

Joe, let's get a few things right. First off, nowhere did I say that he shouldn't have called the victims' families beforehand. It's his "I feel their pain" nonsense in his press release that I am objecting to. He yanked the rug out from under Haugen's victim's widow and then yaps about feeling her pain.

Second, Kitzhaber went back on his word. That makes him a POS.

Third, his logic is fuzzy. The concern for "fairness" is so overblown as to imply that it's simply a pretext. In a cosmic sense, the death penalty is unfair. Some people get lucky--a wussy juror, a lawless judge, what have you. But no amount of reform is going to change that. And that's that. So why are we going to simply stop this particular execution? Is that somehow going to make things more "fair"? Not to the widow. That's for sure. At the end of the day, all his posing is just that. He doesn't like the DP, so he'll hurt an innocent person. POS aptly describes him.

Posted by: federalist | Nov 27, 2011 9:52:08 AM

>Joe, let's get a few things right. First off, nowhere did I say that he shouldn't have called the victims' families beforehand.

Granted, though if he did, at some point, it would come out, and well, not mentioning the family would be pretty difficult. Also, at one point you noted "he didn't have to contact the families," since I never said he had to, just that it was a good thing to do, that sorta does imply you thought it improper.

>It's his "I feel their pain" nonsense in his press release that I am objecting to. He yanked the rug out from under Haugen's victim's widow and then yaps about feeling her pain.

I don't know why showing empathy for the victims in such a case -- either if the victim wants a person to die or not to die and the state does not do so for whatever reason -- is "nonsense" and again say if he didn't mention them, you or someone else would complain as they often do about the victims being forgotten about. The victims are going to be part of the conversation either way and him not talking about it is not going to change the fact.

>Second, Kitzhaber went back on his word. That makes him a POS.

He promised that he would never change his mind on the matter? Since this isn't really humanly possible, since there is always a chance that one will change their mind, if he did, he might have been wrong, but again, don't think the personal attack on his morals holds.

>Third, his logic is fuzzy. The concern for "fairness" is so overblown as to imply that it's simply a pretext.

Since even many death penalty supporters repeatedly note that in various cases the system is unfair as applied in various respects, again, wrong or not, it is unclear why it is a "pretext." Your disagreement of the merits doesn't uphold your claims on dishonest disagreement.

>In a cosmic sense, the death penalty is unfair. Some people get lucky--a wussy juror, a lawless judge, what have you. But no amount of reform is going to change that. And that's that.

The problems go beyond stuff like that.

>So why are we going to simply stop this particular execution? Is that somehow going to make things more "fair"?

It might. But, again, the deck is stacked here since you don't think the system is that unfair anyway and think people are exaggerating. Anyway, again, he might be wrong. He repeatedly let executions go on, so over time, he wasn't just some stereotypical kneejerk abolitionist type. Wrong or not, that doesn't make him a "pos," it makes him wrong.

>Not to the widow. That's for sure. At the end of the day, all his posing is just that. He doesn't like the DP, so he'll hurt an innocent person. POS aptly describes him.

I know you disagree on the merits, but I still don't see much proof that he is just "posing" here as compared to doing something that might be wrong, but w/o more, looks to me like a principled stand. Principle often leads people to do things they should not do. It doesn't just for that make them "pos."

Someone else noted that it isn't clear at all that he "doesn't like the DP" as compared to the specific system in place. The system in place is not painless. It results in some harm no matter what occurs. Some victims don't want a person to be executed. One was hurt by it being carried out recently. If the executive honestly carried out the system there, it might have been wrong, but it wasn't some character flaw. Same here.

Bottom line, if he didn't mention the victim, you or someone else would complain that he didn't care about them. They would call him names. Whenever a governor stops an execution, someone is likely to say that too. Disagreement on the merits should not lead to personal potshots, no matter what side, as Bill suggests, does it.

Posted by: Joe | Nov 27, 2011 10:19:48 AM

Joe, your response on his mentioning the victim is lame. He had no business mentioning it in the very statement where he was pulling the rug out out from underneath one of them.

Second, let's get this right--the decision to halt executions, when one was imminent, had its own moral consequences, and Kitzhaber made a conscious choice to harm a completely innocent person simply because he doesn't think the death penalty is "unfair". People who choose to harm innocent people who have every right to expect that justice will be carried out for some idea that it's completely unfair to capital murderers that only volunteers have gotten the big jab are moral pygmies.

So no, I don't put this on the level of simple disagreement. It's arrogance of the worst sort, and Kitzhaber compounds it by emoting over the pain of the victims' families. Kitzhaber should have let this execution go through.

Posted by: federalist | Nov 27, 2011 11:06:34 AM

"in light of corrupt prosecutors who routinely hide favorable evidence from the defense and the courts."

Anon 3 has nailed it: to me a persuasive argument against the imposition of the death penalty regardless of the perceived "weight" of the evidence.

Posted by: anon4 | Nov 28, 2011 12:56:09 AM

federalist --

What Joe overlooks is that a person may change his mind, but he is bound by his word regardless. This is particularly true of politicians who get elected on a particular platform. At that point, the electorate has a reliance interest the politician cannot unilaterally void by declaring, post facto, a "change of mind."

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 28, 2011 9:58:58 AM

Bill:

"What Joe overlooks is that a person may change his mind, but he is bound by his word regardless."

Your whole world (conservative and liberal), is built on lies, misconceptions and half truths from your very government, which are not bound by any commitments to their voters!

I am not happy that you may be poisoning young minds in your current profession. But when all you know is the gubermint, which has been my squirming, evasive adversary for the last sixteen years of my very wealth creating employment (at the expense of insurance companies and health care providers), I do not expect you to understand.

You (and TQ), are the major perpetrators of what you charge those who disagree with you, "ad hominem attacks"!

Posted by: albeed | Nov 28, 2011 11:15:26 PM

>Joe, your response on his mentioning the victim is lame. He had no business mentioning it in the very statement where he was pulling the rug out out from underneath one of them.

I stand my position: a decision of this sort has to take into consideration (including references to them in public statements) the victims, since they are major part of the equation, and that if he did not mention the victims, you or someone else -- I say this after seeing it repeatedly -- would call him names for NOT mentioning them.

>Second, let's get this right--the decision to halt executions, when one was imminent, had its own moral consequences, and Kitzhaber made a conscious choice to harm a completely innocent person simply because he doesn't think the death penalty is "unfair".

Continuing an unfair system has moral consequences. It works both ways, especially if we don't assume the conclusion that it IS fair, which is a matter of great debate, so being wrong on it can't be "pos" behavior in itself.

>People who choose to harm innocent people who have every right to expect that justice will be carried out for some idea that it's completely unfair to capital murderers that only volunteers have gotten the big jab are moral pygmies.

I don't accept that "completely unfair" is the standard being applied here. The standard is the standard deemed required by the law. The law sometimes requires things that leads to much more than mental anguish. For instance, if a prosecutor doesn't have certain evidence, s/he might have to release someone that is likely dangerous. It is not "immoral" for them to do this. It doesn't make them "pygmies."

>So no, I don't put this on the level of simple disagreement. It's arrogance of the worst sort, and Kitzhaber compounds it by emoting over the pain of the victims' families. Kitzhaber should have let this execution go through.

Again, wrong he might be on stopping the execution, but being wrong doesn't make him a [fill in your varying personal potshots here]. If he honestly, like a judge might be, thinks the judgment the state gives him to make here requires a result, it is not "arrogance" but at worst misjudgment. Government officials misjudge all the time, sometimes on quite serious matters. Doesn't make them reprobates.

>What Joe overlooks is that a person may change his mind, but he is bound by his word regardless.

I don't know what exactly is 'word' was. I don't know if he said -- I will never ever change my mind. I don't think a governor could do that -- like a judge, they have to make decisions based on the best understanding at the moment of the decision. So, if he spoke in absolutist terms he was wrong and might very well have misled himself, as some politicians do. It does not make him a "pos" to realize he is wrong and believe his oath required what he did.

>This is particularly true of politicians who get elected on a particular platform. At that point, the electorate has a reliance interest the politician cannot unilaterally void by declaring, post facto, a "change of mind."

The electorate should not think that politicians will never change their mind. The whole point of republican government is that the agent has independent judgment and the best s/he can do is give their best prediction on how they will act. They cannot promise exactly what they will do, particularly given the changing natures of events. It is not "pos" behavior for a politician to be mistaken.

Posted by: Joe | Nov 29, 2011 1:51:35 PM

Joe, if you can't see the difference between calling the victims' families beforehand and this cynical part of Kitzhaber's press release:

"The families and friends of victims deserve certainty that justice will be carried out on behalf of the loved ones who have been taken from them in such a cruel fashion."

then there's really no debating you. Kitzhaber did the very opposite thing to Haugen's victims' families and to then mention them in his statement was cynicism at its worst. Yes, the families of Oregon's other DR inmates are, to an extent, sentenced to long waits because of the hostility of the courts to death sentences, but Kitzhaber could have released one family from this sentence. Yet he did not. Get that right.

Your other defenses are pathetic. You talk about the standard in death sentences being set by the law--but that doesn't absolve Kitzhaber--he is not commuting a death sentence because the law says so, but because of his own sense of fairness. And this sense of fairness appears to be that because some death row inmates somehow escape death that all must. That's a ridiculous standard, and elevates the interest of killers over that of victims. Where it's dictated by law, fine, but when we have one that the law says is ok to kill, Kitzhaber is morally responsible for the pain he inflicts on the victim's family. I look at his choice to inflict that pain, and I conclude that he is a POS. At the end of the day, and the lameness of your "continuing an unfair system" has consequences shows this, there is simply no getting around that Kitzhaber yanked the rug out from under completely innocent people whom all agree have suffered enough--and for what, to preserve the life of someone who wants to die and who murdered someone while incarcerated. What an odd sense of priorities.

Posted by: federalist | Nov 29, 2011 7:51:28 PM

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