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September 23, 2009

Charting the uncertain future for death row inmates left behind after New Mexico repeal

This interesting local article from New Mexico, which is headlined "Uncertain Fates: NM’s next governor could commute death sentences," discusses the uncertainty that surrounds the fate of the two condemned murderers that were left on death row even after New Mexico repealed its death penalty earlier this year. Here is how it starts:

And you thought capital punishment was dead. Although the New Mexico Legislature voted to repeal the death penalty in March, the new law doesn’t impact the two men currently on death row or any others who could be sentenced to death for crimes committed before July 2009.

Gov. Bill Richardson told reporters at the bill signing that he wouldn’t use his pardon power to commute the remaining sentences, and so death-penalty opponents looked to the New Mexico Supreme Court for relief.

In May, the court’s justices entertained the idea of finishing what the Legislature started, during oral arguments in the case of accused deputy-killer Michael Astorga. They, too, left the issue hanging when they quashed Astorga’s appeal, without explanation, on Sept. 17.

This volleys the death penalty into the voters’ court: The next governor will have the power to commute the sentences of those left on death row.

September 23, 2009 at 10:05 PM | Permalink


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Posted by: federalist | Sep 24, 2009 12:06:00 AM

"White says he has learned from the Secretary of State’s Office that the state constitution prohibits ballot measures relating to public safety or health, and that he needs the attorney general’s opinion as to whether the death penalty can be decided by voters."

Whoa. Haha.

Posted by: . | Sep 24, 2009 9:03:25 AM

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