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January 24, 2023

Different approaches to death penalty administration from different governors

When it comes to the administration of the death penalty, governors tend to have a huge (and outsized?) role at the state level.  Historically, that role has been exercised through grants of executive clemency, though it can also shape in various ways how death sentencing operates or how executions are conducted.  With the start of a new year, I have seen a number of notable new stories about a number of governors seeking to impact how their states approach capital punishment.

From the AP, "Arizona executions on hold amid review ordered by governor":

Arizona’s attorney general has put a hold on executions in the state until the completion of a review of death penalty protocols ordered by the new governor due to the state’s history of mismanaging executions.

The review ordered Friday by Gov. Katie Hobbs, Arizona’s first Democratic governor since 2009, came as the state’s new Democratic attorney general, Kris Mayes, withdrew her Republican predecessor’s request for a warrant to execute a convicted killer who initially asked to be executed but later backed out of that request.  While Hobbs’ order didn’t declare a moratorium on the death penalty, Mayes will not seek court orders to execute prisoners while the review is underway, said Mayes spokesperson Richie Taylor.

From the Nashville Scene, "Bill Lee Tries to Keep Lethal Injection Alive: Rather than reconsidering capital punishment, the governor will make leadership changes after a damning investigation into Tennessee executions":

In April of last year, the governor — then the media, then the public — learned that the state had bungled drug testing in the hours leading up to the planned execution of 72-year-old Oscar Franklin Smith. Lee issued a last-minute reprieve for Smith and, days later, suspended executions through 2022, citing “technical issues” with the state’s lethal injection process....

On Jan. 9, Frank Strada — previously the deputy director of Arizona’s Department of Corrections — assumed the role of commissioner at the Tennessee Department of Correction with an explicit mandate to bring back Tennessee executions.

From Florida Politics, "Gov. DeSantis calls for juror ‘supermajority’ to suffice in death penalty cases":

Gov. Ron DeSantis started out his week with the Florida Sheriff’s Association (FSA), where he discussed his desire to allow juries to administer the death penalty via a supermajority vote, rather than requiring unanimity.  “Fine, have a supermajority. But you can’t just say one person (can decide against the death penalty). So maybe eight out of 12 have to agree? Or something. But we can’t be in a situation where one person can just derail this,” DeSantis said at the group’s winter conference in St. Johns County, discussing death penalty verdicts left unachieved because of a rogue juror.

DeSantis told the FSA Monday that he wants a “supermajority” to constitute a sufficient vote count for execution. The pitch comes in the wake of the Parkland killer not getting the death penalty because of what DeSantis called one person’s “idiosyncratic” approach to the proceedings, though there ultimately were three votes not to execute the murderer.

January 24, 2023 at 10:04 AM | Permalink


Set dates. Victims need justice.

Man oh man, do Democrats suck: https://www.nationalreview.com/news/fox-news-meteorologist-attacked-on-new-york-city-subway/?utm_source=recirc-desktop&utm_medium=blog-post&utm_campaign=river&utm_content=top-bar-latest&utm_term=fourth

Posted by: federalist | Jan 24, 2023 10:24:20 AM

Go DeSantis!!

Posted by: federalist | Jan 24, 2023 11:07:06 AM

federalist --

DeSantis indeed! Especially since Cotton isn't running. But Cotton will make a great AG.

P.S. You might not have seen the report below, which supports your view about the very questionable role of the FBI in investigating Trump, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11667515/Ex-FBI-agent-arrested-links-Russian-oligarch.html

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 24, 2023 2:11:00 PM

I saw that article. Crazy, huh?

The suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story delegitimizes the 2020 election. If something similar happened in an election overseas, the US State Dept would be saying that the election was less than fair and that law enforcement involvement was problematic.

Trump's actions regarding the 2020 election have been selfish, to put it mildly. But he is completely justified in asserting he was screwed. And let's not forget that Joe "I Shower with Ashley" Biden had a hand in the investigation of Flynn which was BS. Remember he agreed with the Logan Act prerequisite . . ..

Posted by: federalist | Jan 24, 2023 2:30:27 PM

Some more DeSantis--for those who care:


Posted by: federalist | Jan 24, 2023 3:31:42 PM

While there may be something to be argued about why a vote of say 10-2 should suffice to obtain a death sentence, I doubt that it would pass Constitutional muster at the Supreme Court. One notable case from the past where a jury was hung 11 to 1 for the death penalty involved Atlanta attorney Fred Tokars, who had had his wife killed in December 1993, after she threatened to expose him helping his Detroit-based drug dealing clients how to launder money thru Atlanta strip clubs. An 18-year old hired hitman (and crack addict) shot Sara Tokars with a sawed off shotgun from the back seat of her car (she was driving), in front of her two sons, then 4 and 6 years old, who also sat in the front seat. Initially, Tokars was convicted in Federal Court in Atlanta for "murder in aid of racketeering" and received a life sentence. Despite his Federal life sentence without the possibility of parole, Tokars was prosecuted for murder for hire in the Superior Court of Cobb County, Georgia, where prosecutors sought the death penalty. The foreman of the jury apparently lied during voir dire, by saying he was open to the possibility of imposing a death sentence, when, in face, he adamantly opposed the death penalty. He hung the jury 11 to 1 for the death penalty, leaving Tokars with a second life sentence. Tokars, 67 years old, died in Federal prison in May of 2020, after enduring a wasting neurological disease that left him unable to walk for the last 10 years of his life.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Jan 25, 2023 10:17:49 AM

federalist and Maga mantra: If my candidate wins, the election was eminently fair; if he loses, it was clearly rigged.

Posted by: anon | Jan 25, 2023 10:33:13 AM

I want to correct some factual errors I discovered from my post above. Sara Tokars was actually murdered November 29, 1992, not in 1993, as I wrote above. Second, the Cobb County jury actually hung 10 to 2 in favor of the death penalty for Fred Tokars, not 11 to 1 as I wrote above. Ultimately, the point is the same: one or two jurors should not be able to prevent the others from imposing a death sentence, except the Supreme Court would probably hold that the U. S. Constitution requires a unanimous vote to obtain a death sentence.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Jan 25, 2023 10:37:59 AM

Wow, anon, so you're saying that an election is on the up and up when law enforcement works to suppress the dissemination of truthful information impacting a candidate?

The 2016 election wasn't fair either, given law enforcement's involvement in the Russia hoax and going easy on Hillary. DJT just overcame that.

Posted by: federalist | Jan 25, 2023 11:04:40 AM


And then there's this.

Posted by: federalist | Jan 25, 2023 11:04:53 AM

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