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California: With state executions on hold, death penalty foes rethink ballot strategy

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California advocates of abolishing the death penalty got a jolt of momentum in March, when Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he would not allow any executions to take place while he was in office.
But after trying twice this decade to persuade voters to end capital punishment, they have no plans to go to the ballot again in 2020. Rather than seeking to build on Newsom’s temporary reprieve for Death Row inmates, activists are taking their own pause.
Grappling with the legacy of their two failed initiatives, advocates are reassessing their strategy and retooling their message. Natasha Minsker, a political consultant who has long been involved with abolition efforts, said the governor’s moratorium has given advocates the opportunity to do long-term planning.
“There’s this excitement and energy in our movement that we haven’t had in a long time,” Minsker said.
Newsom’s executive order caught many Californians by surprise. Although he supported the unsuccessful ballot measures to abolish t…

U.S. Supreme Court stays execution amid lethal injection concerns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the pending execution of a Virginia man convicted of beating a co-worker to death in 2001 for drug money.

It's the latest in a number of executions the court has blocked recently amid questions about the constitutionality of lethal injection -- the primary method of execution in all states with the death penalty.

Christopher Scott Emmett killed co-worker John Langley during a botched robbery in Danville, Virginia, by beating him to death as he slept, then used his cash to buy crack cocaine, according to documents filed in the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

He was set to die at 9 p.m. Wednesday.

The Supreme Court order stays Emmett's execution pending final disposition of the appeal by the 4th Circuit. But if the 4th Circuit allows the execution to proceed, another round of appeals to the high court would be expected.

The Supreme Court had rejected an earlier stay of execution in June, before agreeing to hear Kentucky cases on the constitutionality of lethal injection. Oral arguments in those cases will be held early next year.

The high court's agreeing to hear the cases, however, has prompted a flood of appeals from capital defendants seeking execution stays or new hearings as a result of the court's intervention.

The justices, meanwhile, have stayed a number of pending executions, presumably until the larger constitutional questions surrounding the method of execution are settled.

With 42 people executed in the United States so far in 2007, the concerns may lead to the fewest number of executions in a year since 1996, when 45 people were put to death in the U.S., according to The Associated Press.

On Friday, Georgia plans to execute Jack Alderman, convicted in the 1974 death of his wife. Alderman's attorneys have filed a last-minute appeal with the Supreme Court.

Source : CNN.com

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