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

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…

Arkansas: Federal Judge Gives Injunction In One, Possibly Two Scheduled Executions

Arkansas' death chamber
Arkansas' death chamber
A federal judge has granted an injunction in the execution of Jason F. McGehee, one of the eight Arkansas inmates scheduled to be executed later this month.

Marshall denied requests for injunctions for five other condemned men whom the parole board did not recommend clemency.

Eastern District Judge D.P. "Price" Marshall, Jr. ruled Thursday that McGehee, for whom the parole board recommended clemency Wednesday, should not be executed before a required 30-day public comment period could be honored.

Judge Marshall granted a possible second injunction in the case of Jack Jones. His clemency hearing is scheduled for Friday, and he will be granted an injunction if he is recommended as well.

Arkansas plans to execute eight men in 10 days this month before one of its lethal injection drugs expires. McGehee’s injunction makes it unlikely he will be executed this month if the governor does not approve his clemency before the state’s supply of midazolam expires.

Clemency hearings have been held without the required 30-day lag before an execution. They’ve also been cut from two hours to one.

Attorneys for the inmates argued those changes make it legally impossible to grant clemency ahead of the deadline. They also said the clemency process has been disorganized and certain parities were not mailed full clemency applications.

Lawyers for the state argued it’s in the public interest to execute before Arkansas’s drugs expire.

Marshall denied other requests for injunctions in the cases of five men whose request for clemency recommendations were rejected by the parole board. He cited U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Ohio Adult Parole Authority v. Woodard, which he said sets a very minimal bar for due process in execution clemency cases.

Marshall said he struggled with the decision because aspects of the clemency process had clearly been disorganized and various stakeholders had not received the inmates’ full clemency applications.

This story is produced by Arkansas Public Media. What's that? APM is a nonprofit journalism project for all of Arkansas and a collaboration among public media in the state. We're funded in part through a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, with the support of partner stations KUAR, KUAF, KASU and KTXK. And, we hope, from you! You can learn more and support Arkansas Public Media's reporting at arkansaspublicmedia.org. Arkansas Public Media is Natural State news with context.

Source: KUAR, April 6, 2017

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