Skip to comments.Death penalty moratorium supporters try again to block executions
Posted on 04/03/2006 7:59:31 AM PDT by SmithL
SACRAMENTO - Death penalty moratorium supporters will try again this week to put a hold on executions in California, the state with the largest death row in the country.
A bill by Assembly members Sally Lieber, D-Santa Clara, and Paul Koretz, D-West Hollywood, would bar executions at least until 2008 - after a state commission has reported on ways to improve the accuracy of jury verdicts in criminal cases.
The measure is scheduled for a hearing Tuesday by the Assembly Public Safety Committee.
The Public Safety Committee approved a similar bill by Koretz and Lieber in January, but that measure died in the Assembly Appropriations Committee without coming up for a vote.
Kortez said he didn't want to ask fellow Democrats to run the risk of voting for a bill that could be used as campaign fodder by Republicans if he wasn't sure it would pass.
In an attempt to reassure nervous lawmakers, the new bill would give voters the final say on whether there should be a moratorium.
But trying to put that question on the November ballot creates a higher hurdle for the bill. It would need two-thirds votes instead of simple majorities to pass the full Assembly and Senate, and that would take some Republican support. Finding those votes would be difficult at best.
Lieber says the bill's supporters have a "moral responsibility" to try, saying that six inmates who were on death row were later exonerated.
"I don't think there's a question that an innocent person could be put to death in California," she said. "I think we have a moral responsibility to take a brief timeout and look at these questions."
If voters approved the moratorium, it would remain in place until the Legislature had considered the recommendations of the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice and passed legislation restoring executions.
The 19-member commission, chaired by former Attorney General John Van de Kamp, is required to submit a final report to lawmakers by Dec. 31, 2007.
The commission is looking at a number of factors that could lead to wrongful convictions - including incorrect eyewitness identifications, false confessions, the withholding of exculpatory evidence and false testimony by jailhouse snitches - and discussing ways to combat those problems, said Gerald Uelmen, the commission's executive director and a Santa Clara University law school professor.
He says the commission probably won't issue its final report until the end of 2007.
The 648 prisoners on California's death row are in no immediate danger of being executed without the Lieber-Koretz legislation because of a dispute over the constitutionality of lethal injections. A federal judge in San Jose has scheduled May hearings on that issue.
Here are some of the other bills that face action this week, a busy one as lawmakers try to reduce committee backlogs before taking a 10-day Easter recess:
GLOBAL WARMING - A bill by Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, would set greenhouse gas emission standards for public utilities and other electricity companies. It's scheduled for a hearing Tuesday by the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee.
Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, and Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, plan to unveil another bill Monday to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, refineries and other sources.
PHYSICAL EDUCATION - Assemblywoman Betty Karnette, D-Long Beach, thinks California children don't get enough exercise. She has a bill that would require elementary schools to have at least 200 hours of physical education for students each 10 days. It's before the Assembly Education Committee on Wednesday.
GRADUATION EXAM - Assemblyman Mark Wyland, R-Del Mar, wants the state's high school graduation exam to include a section on American history and government. Currently, the exam tests students on math and English. Wyland's bill is also on the Assembly Education Committee agenda on Wednesday.
KINDERGARTEN - A bill by Assemblyman Joe Coto, D-San Jose, would require schools to begin phasing in longer kindergarten classes starting in 2008. The bill would require classes lasting at least 230 minutes a day instead of 180 minutes. It's another item on Wednesday's Assembly Education Committee schedule.
GAY RIGHTS - Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, has a bill to bar textbooks and school activities that reflect negatively on a person's sexual orientation. The measure is drawing criticism from religious conservatives, although it also would bar criticism of a person's religion. It's before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.
FLOOD INSURANCE - Central Valley property owners in flood-prone areas would have to buy flood insurance under a bill by Assemblyman Dave Jones, D-Sacramento. It's scheduled to be taken up Wednesday by the Assembly Insurance Committee.
HERITAGE TREES - Perata is making another attempt to protect the state's oldest trees from logging. The bill would bar cutting or damaging redwoods and other large forestland trees that were alive in 1850. It's in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee on Tuesday. A similar bill passed the Senate in 2004 but never made it out of the Assembly.
I believe that would be on the Twelfth of Never.
Leftists hate murder victims and their families.
bet he doesn't mind frying fish sticks.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.