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March 5, 2007

NYTimes piece on Arizona's capital craziness

Today the New York Times has this article, entitled "Policy Shift on Death Penalty Overwhelms Arizona Court," on the impact of and debate over the death penalty push by Maricopa County's prosecutor.  Here is how the piece begins:

Maricopa County, one of the nation's fastest growing counties, now has an additional distinction: It is also a leader in seeking the death penalty.

During his two years in office, Andrew P. Thomas, the county attorney, has nearly doubled the number of times that the office has sought the death penalty, even though the number of first-degree murder cases prosecuted by the county has remained more or less the same for a decade. A policy change that he enacted has contributed to a backlog of capital cases here that has crippled the county's public defender system, left roughly a dozen murder defendants without representation, and prompted rancor and demoralization in the agencies that defend capital cases.

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March 5, 2007 at 10:35 AM | Permalink


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federalist, would you like to comment on how these charging decisions reflect democracy, or how prosecutorial discretion is overrated? I'll make the same point as before on the subject, that a meaningful exercise of prosecutorial discretion is necessary, and without it the Eighth Amendment is violated, especially in the absence of meaningful proportionality review or other narrowing mechanisms. See Eddmonds v. IL, 469 U.S. 894 (1984)(Marshall & Brennan dissenting from denial of cert.).

Posted by: | Mar 6, 2007 12:53:11 PM

^ that's me.

Posted by: rothmatisseko | Mar 6, 2007 12:54:04 PM

The whittling down is accomplished by statute--there's no requirement for a second thinning of the herd by the prosecutor.

It's that simple.

Posted by: federalist | Mar 6, 2007 6:40:05 PM

Doesn't sound like much whittling's been done!

Posted by: rothmatisseko | Mar 6, 2007 11:49:59 PM

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