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Will the U.S. Finally End the Death Penalty?

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In the past, abolition efforts have faced a backlash—but Gavin Newsom’s moratorium may be different.
The American death penalty is extraordinarily fragile, with death sentences and executions on the decline. Public support for the death penalty has diminished. The practice is increasingly marginalized around the world. California, with its disproportionately large share of American death-row inmates, announces an end to the death penalty. The year? 1972. That’s when the California Supreme Court declared the death penalty inconsistent with the state’s constitutional prohibition of cruel or unusual punishments—only to have the death penalty restored a year later through popular initiative and legislation.
On Wednesday, again, California walked back its commitment to the death penalty. Though not full-fledged abolition, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a moratorium on capital punishment lasting as long as his tenure in office, insisting that the California death penalty has been an “abject…

Judge OKs second death penalty expert for Tsarnaev defense

Accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev added a second death penalty expert to his defense team today, less than a month after federal prosecutors announced they would seek execution if he is convicted in the deadly attacks, according to court papers.

U.S. District Court Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. allowed the appointment of David A. Bruck, an attorney with extensive experience in death penalty cases — including seven that appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court. Bruck will join Judy Clarke, a death penalty expert who won life sentences for several high-profile mass killers, including Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and Tucson, Ariz., mass shooter Jared Loughner.

Tsarnaev’s attorneys previously had a request to appoint Bruck denied without prejudice. In their most recent request “the defendant has made a satisfactory showing that the appointment of Mr. Buck is ‘necessary for adequate representation,’” according to O’Toole’s order.

The motion prompting O’Toole’s order was sealed.

Tsarnaev, 20, is accused of killing three and wounding more than 260 in the April 15 attack, then murdering a Massachusetts Institute of Technology cop later in a desperate bid to escape capture.

Source: AP, Feb. 21, 2014

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Will the U.S. Finally End the Death Penalty?