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

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…

USA: Sentencing Phase for Hasan Starts Monday

Ft. Hood - (KCEN) – The sentencing phase for Major Nidal Hasan will begin Monday morning with testimony from witnesses beginning at 9:30 a.m.

On Friday the senior officer jury found Hasan guilty of 13 counts of premeditated murder, and 32 counts of premeditated attempted murder. Hours later Judge Osborn called another hearing to discuss the sentencing phase.

During that hearing prosecutors told Judge Osborn they plan on presenting 20 witnesses. Of those witnesses, there will be at least one for each of the 13 who were murdered during Hasan's shooting spree at Fort Hood back in 2005. Prosecutors told the judge many of the witnesses include the victim's mothers, siblings and widows. When they are on the stand, prosecutors plan to show jurors pictures of the victims and their families to go along with the emotional testimony.

Three of the surviving victims are also expected to take the stand on Monday.

While on the stand, these witnesses can only testify on the impact of the crime, and are not allowed to say any opinions they may have on how Hasan should be sentenced.

Prosecutors believe they can finish their testimonies by the end of Monday, and Hasan has asked Judge Osborn to start his side the day after.

During Friday's hearing Judge Osborn told Hasan the sentencing phase is "very complicated", and that she wants to make sure he goes into it "with eyes wide open". She then advised him that "it would be unwise to represent yourself", but despite her warning Hasan told her he will continue to waive his right to counsel.

Many experts are split on whether they think Hasan will make a statement during his sentencing. During the trial Hasan said very little, and did not call any witnesses, did not testify and he didn't have any closing arguments.

During sentencing he has three options. He can once again remain quite, he could make a statement under oath meaning prosecutors could then ask him questions, or he could make a statement without taking an oath. The last option means he would not be submitted to cross-examination, however prosecutors could still rebut his statement.

In order for Hasan to be given the death penalty, all jurors must agree. Otherwise, Hasan could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Source: KCENTV.com, August 26, 2013

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