Skip to comments.The Triumph of Dubious Death Penalty Appeals
Posted on 07/20/2014 6:06:40 AM PDT by Kaslin
A -- all bow -- federal judge has ruled that California's death penalty is unconstitutional because the state's "dysfunctional administration" has meted out the punishment to more than 900 murderers but imposed it on "only 13" since 1978. That's too arbitrary, wrote U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney of Santa Ana. Besides, "the slight possibility of death, almost a generation after (killer Ernest Dewayne Jones) was first sentenced, violates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment."
And: A "death sentence carefully and deliberately imposed by the jury has been quietly transformed into one no rational jury or legislature could ever impose: life in prison, with the remote possibility of death."
It doesn't bother Carney that death row inmates' lawyers have created that preposterous sentence -- remote possibility of death -- by slowing the wheels of justice with dubious time-sucking appeals. If appellate attorneys think delays are too painful for their clients, maybe they should curb their appeals.
It doesn't matter to the judge that Californians have upheld the state's capital punishment law three times since 1972. In 2012, a majority of voters rejected the well-funded, celebrity-endorsed Proposition 34, which would have replaced the death penalty with life without parole. Clearly, voters think it is rational to hang on to a death penalty that is admittedly too slow and obscenely pricey because it makes less sense to allow capital punishment opponents to subvert the rule of law.
It doesn't bother Carney that another federal judge, Jeremy Fogel of San Jose, effectively stopped the death penalty in California when he ruled in 2006 that the state's three-drug lethal injection protocol was unconstitutional.
Nor does it bother the judge that the court did not correct Fogel's outlier ruling in 2008 after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that Kentucky's three-drug death penalty concoction passes constitutional muster.
You may be wondering what Jones did to earn a cell on death row. Though Carney's opinion included no shortage of political arguments, he neglected to document the ugly details of Jones' 1992 crime. He failed to mention Julia Miller -- the mother of Jones' girlfriend -- who was found bound, stripped to the waist and dead from multiple knife wounds. Carney didn't use the word "rape" or "stab." He didn't mention that, as the Los Angeles Times reported, investigators found Jones' semen and DNA at the scene or that Jones admitted to killing Miller on the stand, although he denied planning it.
Carney, however, did find room to reject any notion that endless frivolous appeals cause the delays. The office of California Attorney General Kamala Harris argued that Jones' attorneys have submitted hundreds of pages of legal briefs with a host of complaints. Ergo the delays. The strongest legal argument -- the one that moved Carney to vacate Jones' death sentence -- was the creative claim that the "psychological impact" of legal delays is cruel and unusual.
Kent Scheidegger of the tough-on-crime Criminal Justice Legal Foundation faults a system that nonsensically pays lawyers to undermine the law. A criminal attorney, argued Scheidegger, doesn't go to court to argue that it is unconstitutional to imprison a rapist, but the Habeas Corpus Resource Center sees its job as doing "everything it can do to stop the death penalty."
Guilt is irrelevant.
"For a law to work," Scheidegger added, "people in the trenches have to take it seriously to implement it."
Some federal judges also apparently think it's their job to stop the death penalty. They are not restrained by Supreme Court precedent; they are political actors trying to pretend they are not political actors.
In upholding Kentucky's death penalty, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote, "It is not a little ironic -- and telling -- that lethal injection, hailed just a few years ago as the humane alternative in light of which every other method of execution was deemed an unconstitutional relic of the past," became subject to a constitutional challenge on the grounds that it may induce pain. When that fails, he noted, in "an exercise of raw judicial power," opponents choose the next best option, "never-ending litigation."
Now a federal judge has ruled essentially that "never-ending litigation" produces unconstitutional psychic pain to convicted killers.
The American judiciary has been a material factor in producing America’s decline into chaos. A single isolated judge can declare at any given time any given subject unconstitutional.
Such judges, including a number of Supreme Court Justices, have thus given aid and comfort to the enemy.
Agreed. If any given act, condition or event is sedition, treason and/or criminality one can find a “Judge” to support it.
I don’t fault condemned felons for wanting to delay execution as long as possible. I do, however, fault a system that allows them endlessly to do it through frivolous means.
The constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. It does not guarantee a painless execution.
The death penalty was practiced for nearly 200 years without interruption in the US from the time the Constitution was written until the 1970’s Supreme Court decision rendering it ‘cruel and unusual punishment’. So the drafters of the Constitution endorsed the death penalty from the time they wrote the law until their deaths.
It always amazes me that these visionary men did not understand that the law they wrote prohibited this practice, and it took 200 years before a group of appointed legal experts were able to tell us what the Founders REALLY meant when they wrote the Constitution.
I was a Prosecutor for 25 years and prosecuted my fair share of Capital cases.
We should abolish the death penalty for 2 reasons:
1. Innocent people are executed. We as a Christian society should never kill someone’s loved one to exact punishment on another.
2. The State (especially a burgeoning Police State such as ours) should NEVER EVER have the power to execute it’s citizens.
Are there people that deserve the death penalty? Absolutely 100% yes. I saw them first hand and they are even worse than you think you know they are. However, if we are to remain a civilized Christian and Conservative society we need to abolish the death penalty completely. Period.
Only allow one appeal for each person. Allowing such a large number of appeals for criminals doesn’t bring in any additional insights into their case, and just blows taxpayer money on nothing.
If the liberals had their way, Earnest Jones would be free to roam the land and continue his murder spree.
This is similar to environmentalist claims that nuclear power is uneconomical.
It is uneconomical, of course, primarily because of idiotic and intentionally burdensome regulations imposed by environmentalist panders in the government. And by repeated multiple lawsuits and delays created by environmentalist groups.
My understanding is that there is not a single confirmed case of this, at least since capital punishment was reinstated.
If you have evidence to the contrary, I'd very much like to see it.
Would also like to point out something you're probably well aware of. Most of those claimed as "innocent" are more accurately described as having gotten a court to agree their trial was conducted improperly in some way.
To my mind, at least, there's a really big jump from "His trial didn't meet standards," to "He actually didn't commit the crime."
With a conservative POTUS and congress, a major area of action should be the reorganization of the federal judiciary. The constitution requires the supreme court, but all subordinate courts are created and changed by congress. So a chairman of the house and senate judiciary committees can correct a huge number of problems.
1) Among other things, the reorganization should be used to purge a whole lot of really awful federal judges. They will have to be paid until they retire, but it doesn’t mean they will sit before civil and criminal cases, because their courts will no longer exist as such. No reason in the world to “laterally transfer” radicals and deadwood to new jobs.
2) A huge number of obstacles and obstructions can be swept away from federal involvement in state capitol punishment cases. Just by declaring states to be “competent authorities” in carrying out executions as they see fit, removes hundreds of reasons for appeal.
For the time being, states should authorize the use of the firing squad as an alternative to any other contested means of execution. That is, fine, you challenge lethal injection, so we will shoot you instead. Your challenge is instantly moot. Legally, it is much harder to challenge a firing squad, it is inexpensive, can be carried out anywhere, cannot be denied essential materials, requires no special training for the lawmen who pull the triggers, and is well established that it works.
I don’t fault their attorneys, either. It is their legal obligation to do everything possible within the law for their clients.
Hurricane Carter, guilty as Hell and free as a bird until prostate cancer claimed him.
What a load of horse crap. We, as a civilized society, MUST put the price of innocent life as the pinnacle and state to those who deprive others of innocent life that NOTHING but their own life will recompense the victim. Christ never once argued against the death penalty, so your fallacious use of "Christian society" falls flat.
I doubt that would be constitutional. 14A prohibits any state from violating a citizen's rights. Such a claim can only be adjudicated in federal court.
He who takes another's life unjustly loses his own right to life.
I remember back in the 1960s and 70s when an outgoing governor would commute all death sentences to life in prison.
I think that may be why Charlie Manson is still alive.
FEB 15, 1933,Guiseppe Zangara shoots at FDR and hits Mayor Anton Cermak, who later dies of his wounds.
MARCH 20, 1933 Zangara is executed for murder after ONLY 10 days on death row.
Now THAT was justice! None of this 20 year silliness.
The LSAT effectively screens candidates for law schools for their leftist bias.
TWO THOUGHTS: 1) Support for the death penalty is a mile wide and an inch deep. 2) I think that in order to get over the fact that ‘innocent’ people are convicted I say consider his/her rap sheet to see if he is worth having around/breathing.
I don’t think that Yasser Arafat or Fidel Castro should be entitled to a natural death. We got laws against that too.
“What a load of horse crap”
Exactly, we need to purge our whole legal system of the “RIghtWardHos” of this country. Absolute limits need to be placed on “appeals” of capital cases, and severely restrict what judges can do to subvert the process. The fact that convicted killers are more likely to die of old age than execution is the ultimate perversion or our “legal system.” And as was pointed out by another poster, again we find that the Congress is the guilty party.
We had a guy finally executed last year after 22 years on death row for raping and murdering a 9 year old girl. He had TWO trials..a second after some minor flaws were found in his first. He was found guilty in the second trial and was again given the death penalty. He demanded and got DNA testing which he said would exonerate him...it didn’t and his semen was conclusively found in the girls body. Even then his appeals went on for years until finally being exhausted after 22 years. There was no doubt he committed the rape and murder and richly deserved the death penalty.
yet another example where liberals are winning with trickery. They know the public wants the death penalty, so since they can’t outright abolish it, They make it so it takes 20 years to execute someone (justice delayed is justice denied). Now look for a rash of their idiot judges following in this idiot’s footsteps.
There should be procedural appeals only. No automatic appeal or any other kind.
I won’t argue your points - but as a devout Catholic I disagree or at least question them, but what about those who hurt/maim/kill other inmates and guards? What about those who somehow how later get paroled(rare but it does happen)?
“There should be procedural appeals only. No automatic appeal or any other kind.”
All of this is an outgrowth of making lawyers into judges. You know the old saying: “What do you call an unsuccessful trial lawyer? Ans: Your honor.” We have lost sight of the goals of a justice system
Congress has the authority to limit the jurisdiction of the federal courts, so in effect judges would be prohibited from nit picking the means of execution before the fact, at least on c&u grounds.
Many of the problems with lethal injection are caused because of its novelty and variability. If states instead adopt other, well known means of execution, particularly the firing squad, it is much harder to challenge on c&u grounds.
I spent time on California's death row. I can assure you, that is 100% true.
if we are to remain a civilized Christian and Conservative society we need to abolish the death penalty completely. Period.
I strongly disagree with that statement. I don't think we can have a so called Christian/conservative society without the death penalty.
He was just scared of facing her standing next to a just and loving God. That would be a sight to scare me out of ever doing anyone harm, least of all a child.
how will you protect prison inmates? It’s unconstitutional to segregate murderers to solitary. Their blood on your hands.