|Gary Haugen in court|
Death row inmate Gary Haugen cannot legally force Gov. John Kitzhaber to carry out his execution, the Oregon Supreme Court decided Thursday.
Rather, the governor has the legal authority to delay the twice-convicted killer's execution, the court said, despite the inmate's insistence that he be put to death.
"The Oregon Constitution does not provide the recipient of a Governor's act of clemency with a corresponding individual right to reject that clemency," the unanimous opinion authored by Chief Justice Thomas Balmer states. "In fact, in describing the Governor's power to grant pardons, commutations, and reprieves, the constitutional text does not refer to the recipient of the grant of clemency at all."
The court's decision reverses a trial court judge's ruling last August that sided with arguments from Haugen and his attorney Harrison Latto that Haugen must accept the governor's reprieve for it to be valid.
In a statement, Kitzhaber said he was pleased with the court's decision.
"I renew my call for a re-evaluation of our current system that embraces capital punishment, which has devolved into an unworkable system that fails to meet the basic standards of justice," he said. "I am still convinced that we can find a better solution that holds offenders accountable and keeps society safe, supports the victims of crime and their families and reflects Oregon values."
Source: Oregon Live, June 20, 2013