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February 4, 2012

Prosecutor and Justice spar over death penalty in Ohio

This local article, headlined "Deters challenges Supreme Court justice on death penalty," spotlights one (of many) high-profile fights over the death penalty in the Buckeye State. Here is how the piece starts and ends:

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters called on Friday for Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer to stop deciding death penalty cases because of the justice’s recent public criticism of capital punishment. Deters, a staunch death penalty supporter, also blasted Pfeifer for suggesting Hamilton County too often seeks the death penalty in murder cases.

“Justice Pfeifer’s continued participation in deciding death penalty cases is inappropriate,” Deters said in a letter sent Friday to judges and fellow prosecutors across the state. “It gives rise to a credible inference that he cannot be fair to both sides.”

The letter is the latest volley in an intensifying debate between Pfeifer and Deters over the future of capital punishment in Ohio.

Pfeifer, a Republican who helped write Ohio’s death penalty law as a state legislator in 1981, voiced his concerns during a House committee hearing in December and has singled out Deters in subsequent remarks to the media.

Deters especially took issue with comments Pfeifer made last month to his hometown newspaper, the Bucyrus Telegraph Forum. “I know that Joe Deters in Hamilton County – his attitude is that they are all death penalty cases. It is just the luck of the draw as to where it happens.”

Pfeifer said Friday his comments were not meant as a criticism of Deters, but rather to point out the uneven use of the death penalty around the state. Hamilton County leads the state with 28 inmates on death row – 19 percent of Ohio’s 148 condemned prisoners. Franklin County, with a larger population, has 11 death row inmates....

Deters said Pfeifer is wrong to suggest his office seeks the death penalty more often than others. Supreme Court records show that since 1999 Hamilton County indicted 55 people on death penalty charges, compared to 182 in Franklin County and 390 in Cuyahoga County.

Deters said Hamilton County sends more inmates to death row because he rarely considers a plea bargain to a reduced charge, such as life without parole, in cases deemed serious enough to seek the death penalty. In other counties, such plea bargains are more common. “Justice Pfeifer is making public pronouncements that we treat every case as a death penalty case, and if you look at the statistics, that’s clearly not the case,” Deters said.

He said Pfeifer should recuse himself from deciding future death penalty appeals because of his public comments about its fairness and his recommendation that the state consider abolishing it now that sentences of life without parole are possible.

Pfeifer, however, said judges are permitted to suggest changes in state law as long as they follow the law that’s currently on the books, which he said he will continue to do. “I know the difference between advocating for a change in the law and applying the law as it exists,” he said.

February 4, 2012 at 07:36 PM | Permalink

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Laughable, but that's nothing new from Deters. Pfeifer voted to uphold Lamont Hunter's Hamilton County death sentence not even two months ago.

http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/rod/docs/pdf/0/2011/2011-ohio-6524.pdf

Posted by: Anon | Feb 4, 2012 7:54:42 PM

The Justice should be put on the boycott black list. No product or service provider should serve him. I would like to see the families of the murder victims whose murderers he favors, bring street justice. To deter. He should not be killed, because an even more biased lawyer may take his place. His bias is in bad faith, to promote the interests of the lawyer profession in bigger government. It has no moral validity. It is a type of armed robbery, the real meaning of lawyer rent seeking.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 4, 2012 9:35:04 PM

how typical, another pro-death penalty bully seeking to silence anyone who questions the death penalty.

erika :)

Posted by: virginia | Feb 5, 2012 7:48:08 AM

No. Anyone who is part of a criminal cult enterprise, seeking to plunder the money of the taxpayer, and deserves no more consideration than other member of any mafia. This criminal mob has taken control of the three branches of government, and makes 99% of policy decisions, mostly to promote its economic and political interests. There is no difference by political affiliation in this principle.

If you don't like boycotting and bringing of street justice, you really will not like rounding up the entire lawyer hierarchy, around 15000 people, giving them an hour's fair trial, and summarily executing them for their insurrection against the constitution. To deter. Repeat every twenty years to refresh the legal system with modern thinking people.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 5, 2012 8:08:52 AM

Seriously Claus, do you just cut and past the same thing for every response and tweak it for the occasion?

Posted by: Anon | Feb 5, 2012 8:36:50 AM

Pfeifer's comment is inappropriate. Even a dim bulb like him has to know that different counties are going to apply the death penalty statute differently. Thus his "luck of the draw" comment is sophistry. Prosecutors have every right (because they are responsive to the people who elect them) to choose which cases to prosecute under the death penalty statute. So basically Pfeifer is elevating the interests of capital murderers over that of local democracy.

Posted by: federalist | Feb 5, 2012 9:47:27 AM

Speaking of sophistry, federalist:

"...because they are responsive to voters...prosecutors have every right to choose which cases to prosecute under the death penalty statute. So basically Pfeifer is elevating the interests of capital murderers over that of local democracy."

Seems to me the judge was questioning Deter's judgment, not his rights. Deters also appears to be stoking electoral fervor, not simply reflecting it.

Things could get pretty scary if awesomely powerful prosecutors were guided solely by the need to rouse or placate the rabble.

Federalist's Ratio?...better that 28 artfully demonized inmates languish on death row than one ambitious prosecutor suffer at the polls?

Posted by: John K | Feb 5, 2012 10:55:27 AM

Anon: It is the lawyer that is drearily repetitious in its rent seeking, allowing 90% of crime to go unanswered. It also intimidates the public into not chasing after criminals and beating them up to address that 90%. That intimidation, that fear of self-help, was a factor in 9/11. Only certain death allowed brave Americans to act on Flight 93. Self help is a feature of low crime countries, whether extremely poor or extremely rich. It explains all areas of low crime within the US. Now why will you not be hearing that explanation in Prof. Berman's class on sentencing, the sentence meted out by the public is more effective than that meted out by the legal system? He has to answer that question. You have to answer why you did not hear that in Crim Law 101. That is original, if self-evident. The lawyer cult hierarchy blinds its victims to the self-evident and everything they learned in high school World History.

The biggest troll to our country is the lawyer profession. It destroys a $trillion in value openly. It probably destroys another $trillion in lost opportunities from the consumption of time of productive, creative people, the missing 10% growth that should be natural to our economy.

People are just tired of this profession. I am offering a solution at every report of their perfidy. It is the same remedy because it is the same perfidy. And there is no legal recourse, with the lawyer controlling the legislative branch, even if the elected official figurehead is not a lawyer. The lawyer staff will always say, you can't do that. Or the Supreme Court will violate Article I Section 1 and overturn a law adverse to the interest of the lawyer profession.

If you have a $5 million business, you 400 lawsuits at any moment in time. Walmart has 10,000 lawsuits Everyday. There are 20 million FBI Index felonies a year. That is an awful lot of repetition. In fairness, don't you agree?

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 5, 2012 12:27:23 PM

Federalist is a miserable half-wit. He wants more and more death sentences. He supports the death penalty for those who are not ardent death penalty supporters like him.

Posted by: Calif. Capital Defense Counsel | Feb 5, 2012 1:17:36 PM

CCDC: I do not want the death penalty for judges who oppose the death penalty. That would just please their competitors who would replace them. I favor kneecapping of these pro-criminal cult criminals by the families of murder victims. To deter.

I want the eradication of the lawyer hierarchy, to remove the obstruction to economic growth and the elimination of all social pathologies in our lawyer besieged nation.

Modest suggestion to CCDC. Please, do not address an adversary in court as you have here. The judge will rejoin you, and the case is gone for you. It is legal malpractice to lose a case this way. Why can't you control yourself when you are being roundly thumped by the facts of the other side?

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 5, 2012 1:48:46 PM

"Federalist is a miserable half-wit. He wants more and more death sentences. He supports the death penalty for those who are not ardent death penalty supporters like him."

I trust that all of you who have been calling for an end to personal insults will chime in on that one.

Should I wait?

And there's a point even more important than that: The attribution of absurd postions to conservative commenters. Will those of you who complain ceaselessly about strawmen have anything to say about CCDC's claim that federalist "supports the death penalty for those who are not ardent death penalty supporters like him"?

The comment is actually worse than a mere strawman, which is a burlesque of an adversary's position undertaken to make it easier to oppose. The claim that federalist wants the DP for those who do not agree with him about the DP is a point-blank lie. It's absurd on its face. (For that reason, it is probably redundant for me to point out that he has said explicitly, and numerous times, to me and others, that he accepts principled or moral opposition to the DP).

The penchant of some of the Leftists here to say anything they want, including smears and flagrant lies (often rolled up into one) is unfortunate, but revealing. Grits has said that I support all state killing as inherently good in all circumstances. He has also said (quite recently) that I claim that ALL the reduction in crime over the last 20 years is due to increased incarceration. Both his assertions are lies, as he certainly knew when he wrote them. And instead of standing down from his lies, which he has refused to do, he JUSTIFIES them by saying that the lies should be accepted "in context."

Of course since virtually every lie is told in a "context," this view of things creates an essentially unlimited license to fabricate.

Erika, meanwhile, has claimed that I want to silence the opposition, when, again, precisely the opposite is true. Indeed, I invited her to debate me in person, thus offering her and her views a platform and a degree of visibility she could not get on her own. Her reaction was to explode -- to claim, inter alia, that I was not a "real man."

And CCDC -- supposedly a man who specializes in representing persons accused of murder -- persists in defining court-ordered executions in this country, in this day and time, as "murder," although the whole board knows it's baloney. "Murder" has a specific meaning in law, and it's not "the death penalty." But no other liberal calls him on his repeating this nonsense.

The Lefties want to claim the moral high ground, and do so all the time, but then sit in silence when this sort of rubbish goes on from those who generally agree with them on criminal law issues.

And -- and this is the topper -- they then accuse THEIR OPPONENTS of hypocrisy.

Amazing.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 5, 2012 2:08:57 PM

Well, CCDC, if I am a miserable half-wit, then why do I routinely kick your teeth in (rhetorically) on this website. As for me wanting death sentences for those who oppose my political positions, that's just silly and more evidence that you don't have the firepower to tangle with me. And yes, I think we should impose the death penalty more often.

As for the response to my argument about sophistry, I fail to see how criticizing the "luck of the draw" comment is wrong. Pfeifer is trying to make that ridiculous geographic disparity argument in inflammatory terms. I guess murderers should think twice before they commit crimes in Deter's neck of the woods. And I doubt Justice Pfeifer would criticize an overly lenient prosecutor.

Posted by: federalist | Feb 5, 2012 2:37:14 PM

Erika loves fun. She is a bad girl. Why won't she debate Bill Otis, even after offers of financial help? Bill is an advocate. She is an advocate. What is wrong with a debate in a public place, recorded to share on the internet?

I will not even offer to debate her myself. I would be bringing my high school education intact to that fight, and it would be an intellectual slaughter, just an unfair fight.

So let's have a well matched debate between two lawyers. Perhaps. Prof. Berman, a left wing ideologue, a supporter of judicial review, could moderate to make her feel intellectually reassured.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 5, 2012 2:47:58 PM

CCDC: Calling people bad names is the debate equivalent of knocking down your King and resigning the chess match in a hopeless position. You can do better to avoid being boring.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 5, 2012 2:49:31 PM

SC --

"Erika loves fun. She is a bad girl. Why won't she debate Bill Otis, even after offers of financial help? Bill is an advocate. She is an advocate. What is wrong with a debate in a public place, recorded to share on the internet?"

What indeed would be wrong with it? If I'm the bad guy she claims -- the bully, the silencer of the opposition, the non-"real man" -- then all of that will come through in a debate more graphically than it possibly could on this site. Indeed, the worse, the more illogical, the more ill-informed and the more bad-mannered I am, the better it will be for her and her viewpoint.

So why does she refuse?

I think it's pretty clear, but people can draw their own conclusions.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 5, 2012 5:00:29 PM

Claus: "Anon: It is the lawyer that is drearily repetitious...." You could have just answered my question and saved us the trouble of skimming your post for substance with a simple yes.

Posted by: Anon | Feb 5, 2012 7:37:15 PM

I think Bill Otis just knows more law and policy considerations than Erika. In a public forum, name calling would be interpreted as surrender in the traverse. It makes one really look desperate. There is no point to entering this dispute for her. The ending has certainty. Still, the public should get an opportunity to weigh the arguments, for educational purposes, and to stimulate thoughtfulness on an important subject. Put it on Youtube for student writing civics papers.

I am willing to debate any lawyer in America, including top profs with endowed chairs or appellate judges. They ended up calling me very bad names and shunning me. I would be bringing an intact academic high school education, and would carpet bomb the debate. Top lawyer intellects cannot handle material from 10th Grade World History, never mind 11th grade statistics or formal logic. It would be like an ordinary Army private of today going back to 1275 AD, where the lawyer lives. How many knights would it take to stop a private with a WWII era .50 caliber machine gun delivering 600 rounds a minute? If lawyer thinking moved up to 1940, I would be thrilled and satisfied.

Here, a beautiful woman is firing the Browning.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRpH6QtC3ec

Erika, don't run away. Have courage, Bill is nothing if not a gentleman.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 5, 2012 8:18:12 PM

"Federalist is a miserable half-wit. He wants more and more death sentences."

Is Federalist a miserable half-wit because he wants more death sentences?

Twice as many Americans believe the death penalty is not imposed often enough as too often. (Gallup, 2010-2011))

So...?

Posted by: Adamakis | Feb 5, 2012 9:14:36 PM

"how typical, another pro-death penalty bully seeking to silence anyone who questions the death penalty."

Really? First off, Deter is defending himself. Second, Pfeifer's criticism is problematic for the reasons I have explained, and Deter has every right to call out Pfeifer.

Posted by: federalist | Feb 5, 2012 11:03:54 PM

You know, CCDC, if you practiced in Texas, Oklahoma or Virginia, you, like David Dow, would get your clients killed. Be thankful you practice in Cali, where there's a strong wind at your back. And if I were an AG, I'd be your worst nightmare. I'd never give an inch. Ever.

Posted by: federalist | Feb 5, 2012 11:08:01 PM

sorry CCDC in this case about federalist i'm gonna have to say i agree with bill and the others. You went way too far!

Posted by: rodsmith | Feb 6, 2012 1:11:28 AM

It figures that an internet bully like federalist would defend a real life bully and contribute nothing of substance - just vile personal insults.

Please do not take this the wrong way federalist because this is met as constructive criticism - you sound like a 300 pound high school drop out who lives in his mother's basement posting screeds on the internet to prove what a "tough guy" all day while watching Fox News and listening to hate radio. Your faux tough guy posts are pretty much the equivilent of a guy wearing a toupee and driving a Corvette or Porcshe because he thinks that will enable him to pick up beautiful women. It doesn't make you sound tough or intelligent - it makes you sound like an insecure person who is obviously compensating for definciencies in something. If that description does not describe you and you really are an attorney, why do you give that impression by using the tired "tough guy" routine?

Incidentially, if you were actually an attorney federalist, you might realize that calling a supreme court justice vile names like you constantly do is a bad idea. It could even violate the rules of professional conduct applicable in whatever jurisdiction you are licensed in.

Erika :)

Posted by: virginia | Feb 6, 2012 6:56:34 AM

mr. claus: "There is no point to entering this dispute for her. The ending has certainty"

me: given how irritating bill can be over the internet, I can only imagine how irritating he can be in person. The reason why I stopped responding to Bill is because he obviously knows which buttons to press to make me upset and frustrate me. Even attempting to engage him online put me in an unhealthy place where my way to blow off steam was making me more upset than my work.

And being a spoiled brat Southern Belle with a fiery personality, I know that I get frustrated easily and don't handle frustration very well. Its why I quit going to court :)

But personally, mr. claus I just think you are hoping to see me yell at and hit Bill Otis because it would provide some sort of sexual thrill to you. Or alternatively you are hoping to see me get humiliated in public to get some sort of sexual thrill. Sorry, it just will not happen. I prefer my humilation and chastisement in private ;)

Erika :)

Posted by: virginia | Feb 6, 2012 7:39:26 AM

btw, if you point out that "spoiled brat Southern Belle" is redundant, you're right :)

Erika :)

Posted by: virginia | Feb 6, 2012 7:44:14 AM

Were there really 390 homicides in Cuyahoga county over approximately 12 years that warranted a capital-murder charge? Or is this just the easiest way to make sure that murder defendants don't exercise their trial rights? Even granting that most of them are guilty (at least of some level of homicide), this is disturbing. You need enough trials to keep everyone honest -- not to mention to keep a stable of local defense attorneys who know how to try a major case -- and this looks like another example about how the broad statutes passed by legislatures in the last 30 years provide too much potential for overcharging and thus too few trials.

Posted by: Anon2 | Feb 6, 2012 10:53:21 AM

"Incidentially, if you were actually an attorney federalist, you might realize that calling a supreme court justice vile names like you constantly do is a bad idea. It could even violate the rules of professional conduct applicable in whatever jurisdiction you are licensed in."

Fortunately, there is a First Amendment in this country. And you will note, erika, that I back up everything I say with analysis. So when I say Sotomayor is a dim bulb, I mention things like her statement (obviously prepared) that Justice Ginsburg's opinion in the Ricci case would have affirmed the Second Circuit. I challenge anyone on here to prove me wrong on that one. The reason, by the way, that Sotomayor's statement was flat out wrong because Ginsburg never dealt with the constitutional argument of the plaintiffs, and she would have had to if the opinion would have affirmed a summary judgment against the plaintiffs. And I don't think calling someone a "dim bulb" is "vile."

And the bully comment is just pathetic. People can call me whatever they want to. Or make lame ad hominem attacks. I rarely listen to Fox News (the trolls they have in the morning are god-awful), and I don't listen to any radio except for sports talk and stations that play music. Everything I say in here I back up.

I have to say, your linking of humiliation and chastisement with people getting sexual thrills is odd to say the least. But hey, whatever floats your boat.

And I have to wonder if you can even read. I did make substantive points in here. Try dealing with them, instead of weak pseudo-psychoanalyzing.

Honestly, you may have noticed that I don't really respond to your posts. To be blunt, it seems a waste of time. You really don't add much to the conversation, and this latest bit of wishful thinking is no exception. It's funny how I am a "half-wit" or a high-school drop-out, but no one seems to be able to kick my butt in here. And I don't even do crim law for a living.

Posted by: federalist | Feb 6, 2012 10:54:31 AM

federalist --

You gotta love Erika, honestly.

She starts with this, "Please do not take this the wrong way federalist because this is met as constructive criticism...," followed IMMEDIATELY by this:

"[Y]ou sound like a 300 pound high school drop out who lives in his mother's basement posting screeds on the internet to prove what a 'tough guy' all day while watching Fox News and listening to hate radio. Your faux tough guy posts are pretty much the equivilent of a guy wearing a toupee and driving a Corvette or Porcshe because he thinks that will enable him to pick up beautiful women."

Just as the abbies have their own, private definition of "murder," they also have their own, private definition of "constructive criticism."

P.S. This particular private definition is supplied by the same person who -- get this -- relentlessly complains of being the victim of "vile personal insults." Far out!

Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 6, 2012 12:39:29 PM

SC --

Erika says: "But personally, mr. claus I just think you are hoping to see me yell at and hit Bill Otis because it would provide some sort of sexual thrill to you. Or alternatively you are hoping to see me get humiliated in public to get some sort of sexual thrill."

If Erika were ever to accept the debate invitation, she would be, so far as I am concerned, free to yell to her heart's content. Hitting -- or I might more correctly say attempted hitting -- is a different matter.

But I digress. The main point is that Erika's putting this sex-related spin on so much of what she writes is just very, very strange. If there is any actual evidence that you would get a "sexual thrill" out of ANYTHING that would happen at a law school debate, I haven't seen it, and Erika offers none.

The only conclusion suggesting itself is that it's coming from some space in her head that has little or no connection to the real world. I've been looking at this forum for a long time, and she is the only commenter who comes close to writing this kind of stuff.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 6, 2012 12:57:53 PM

maybe its time to point out that supremacy claus posted something rather sexually explicit about me a couple of weeks ago - I'm not sure why he did it, but I decided to respond by teasing him and acting crazy in the hopes it would get him to stop. Instead, it only encouraged him :(

I'll stop now - I promise :)

and no, Bill, I'm not going to debate you because I'm telling the truth about why I stopped going to court - too much stress - and too little ability to control emotions while stressed. But don't worry, I haven't actually hit anyone in years :)

Erika :)

Posted by: virginia | Feb 6, 2012 6:49:56 PM

'...no one seems to be able to kick my butt in here.'

....and yet another that is a legend in their own mind....

Posted by: comment | Feb 6, 2012 7:13:39 PM

Ok, mr. comment, take up my challenge. Defend Sotomayor's statement that Ginsburg's dissent would have affirmed the Second Circult in Ricci.

Posted by: federalist | Feb 6, 2012 9:02:46 PM

Erika, please stop. I just ate.

Posted by: federalist | Feb 6, 2012 9:03:59 PM

Well, Mr. Comment. Care to take me on over Sotomayor's statement about Ginsburg's dissent?

Posted by: federalist | Feb 6, 2012 9:05:22 PM

"....and yet another that is a legend in their own mind...."

Federalist is actually a pretty impressive guy. Partner at a large law firm. LL.M. from a top law school. They don't just hand those out to anybody who wants one, you know.

Posted by: The Death Penalty Sucks. | Feb 6, 2012 10:19:06 PM

TDPS --

I can tell you from having met him, and having had him over to the house, that federalist is indeed an impressive character. But it would be better if the discussion here proceeded by explanation and analysis, rather than by a battle of credentials.

By that measure, federalist is pitching a shutout. And it's not just that comment hasn't scored; it's that he hasn't ATTEMPTED to score. If you can find one single analytical post of his, please cite it for me, because I have been unable to.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 6, 2012 11:01:36 PM

Erika: I understand better now. I wish you well.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 6, 2012 11:53:56 PM

Thx Bill. I don't have a whole lot of credentials to argue crim law--that's for sure.

Posted by: federalist | Feb 7, 2012 9:23:39 AM

'Federalist is actually a pretty impressive guy. Partner at a large law firm. LL.M. from a top law school. They don't just hand those out to anybody who wants one, you know.'

Apologize, it's evident there are those impressed...but the skills of practicing law has little to do with anything else but that. "Self-conceit may lead to self-destruction." Aesop

Posted by: comment | Feb 7, 2012 2:17:37 PM

comment, Ive challenged you to defend Justice Sotomayor's statement. can you? I don't refer to my resume at all in here. I'll debate anyone, on the merits, over what I've said in here. Very rarely does anyone take the challenge, and most of the time, when they do, they ignore inconvenient points.

Posted by: federalist | Feb 7, 2012 3:32:39 PM

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