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In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

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To cope with his dread, John Kitzhaber opened his leather-bound journal and began to write.
It was a little past 9 on the morning of Nov. 22, 2011. Gary Haugen had dropped his appeals. A Marion County judge had signed the murderer's death warrant, leaving Kitzhaber, a former emergency room doctor, to decide Haugen's fate. The 49-year-old would soon die by lethal injection if the governor didn't intervene.
Kitzhaber was exhausted, having been unable to sleep the night before, but he needed to call the families of Haugen's victims.
"I know my decision will delay the closure they need and deserve," he wrote.
The son of University of Oregon English professors, Kitzhaber began writing each day in his journal in the early 1970s. The practice helped him organize his thoughts and, on that particular morning, gather his courage.
Kitzhaber first dialed the widow of David Polin, an inmate Haugen beat and stabbed to death in 2003 while already serving a life sentence fo…

Federal Judge OKs Louisiana’s Request For No Executions Until At Least 2018

Louisiana's death chamber
Louisiana's death chamber
WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Tuesday approved Louisiana officials’ request that a stay on executions in the state be extended into 2018.

The delay was approved by U.S. District Court Judge James J. Brady in ongoing litigation brought by two death row inmates, Jessie Hoffman and Christopher Sepulvado.

The state had filed the unopposed request earlier in the day on Tuesday. Although Brady’s approval of the order is dated Tuesday, it was not posted on the court’s docket until Wednesday.

Prior to this week’s order, all proceedings in the case had been on hold through July 11, 2016.

“Counsel were in agreement that a continuance of the stay for another year was appropriate,” attorneys for the state wrote. However, “given that a twelve month stay would put all parties back in the position of dealing with a legislative session and possible conflicts resulting from same, it would be prudent to extend the stay for eighteen months or until approximately January 8, 2018.”

Brady granted the request, extending the stay through Jan. 8, 2018, on which date he scheduled a status conference in the case.

The lawsuit, initially brought in 2012, has been on hold since early 2014, with the stay of the case having been extended several times. In January 2014, Brady had denied the state’s motion to dismiss the case, holding that Hoffman and Sepulvado stated several claims in their complaint that, while they might not ultimately succeed, are “plausible on its face.” Brady allowed Eighth Amendment and equal protection claims brought by the inmates regarding the state’s lethal injection protocol and a claim seeking protections giving them access to the courts to proceed to trial.

Louisiana has only held two executions in the past 15 years, the most recent in 2010. As of Jan. 1, however, the state had more than 80 people on death row.

While the case currently only includes two of those people, others could join the challenge if the state attempted to set an execution date for them.

Source: Buzzfeed, June 2, 2016

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