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January 24, 2011

Illinois judge calls Governor Pat Quinn "grossly irresponsible" for dithering on death penalty

A state judge in Illinois has called out Governor Pat Quinn for having dithered so long concerning the bill to repeal the death penalty passed by the Illinois legislature nearly two weeks ago.  This local story provides the interesting details:

A DuPage County judge said it’s “grossly irresponsible” for Gov. Pat Quinn to stay silent on whether he’ll sign legislation that would abolish the state’s death penalty.  Circuit Judge John Kinsella made a plea from the bench Monday for Quinn to end the uncertainty over Illinois’ death penalty. “He’s got to tell us if he’s going to sign the bill and make it law,” Kinsella said.

The judge’s remarks came as he set a May 3 trial date for an Addison man accused of killing his mother and a prostitute five years ago.  Gary Schuning, 28, may face the death penalty if he is convicted of the Feb. 26, 2006, double-stabbing.  Schuning’s attorney said he would be better prepared for trial if it were known that the bill recently passed by the Illinois General Assembly would abolish the death penalty as of July 1....

Kinsella said it would help prosecutors and defense attorneys across Illinois to know Quinn’s decision about capital punishment.  “He needs to state his position one way or another,” said Kinsella, adding several times that he considered the governor’s silence to be “irresponsible.”

Quinn spokeswoman Annie Thompson disagreed.  The governor is in the process of reaching out to individuals on both sides of the issue “to try to gather as much information as possible” to make an informed decision.  “Given the importance and significance of this legislation and what this law would mean for Illinois, we think it would be irresponsible not to be reviewing it before acting on it,” Thompson said.

Quinn has until March 18 to sign or veto the legislation.  If he doesn’t act by that date, the legislation becomes law.  While Quinn hasn’t said when he will make a decision, Thompson said it will happen before the deadline.

Because state law apparently contemplate giving the Illinois Governor over two months to make a veto decision here, I am not sure it is "grossly irresponsible" for Quinn to have not announced his decision in only two weeks. That said, it is hard to think that either the basic policy issues or the politics surrounding this decision are likely to change in any significant way over the next few weeks. Thus, for reasons suggested by the judge, I do think Quinn ought to indicate what he plans to do as soon as possible.

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January 24, 2011 at 06:45 PM | Permalink


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Is it just me or does the March18 cutoff indicate an incredibly long period for consideration? Especially where as here I suspect the governor is simply trying to gather as much political support for whatever result is already determined?

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Jan 24, 2011 9:01:04 PM

"Grossly irresponsible"? I like that term used. It sounds so gross and so irresponsible. Does Gov. Pat Quinn really deserve this uncool term? maybe he was just buying some time and was thinking so hard and thorough in his basement before trying to sign the bill to repeal the death penalty passed by the Illinois legislature. But still, Gov. Quinn has done a very smart thing not sign easily and buying some time first before jumping into some any conclusions about the bill to repeal the death penalty passed by the Illinois legislature.

Posted by: best xbox 360 games | Jan 25, 2011 3:33:40 AM

I think you are right when you say this. Hats off man, what a superlative knowledge you have on this subject…hope to see more work of yours.

Posted by: Health Blog | Jan 26, 2011 7:07:30 AM

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