FEATURED POST

No Second Chances: What to Do After a Botched Execution

Image
Ohio tried and failed to execute Alva Campbell. The state shouldn't get a second chance.
The pathos and problems of America's death penalty were vividly on display yesterday when Ohio tried and failed to execute Alva Campbell. Immediately after its failure Gov. John Kasich set June 5, 2019, as a new execution date.
This plan for a second execution reveals a glaring inadequacy in the legal standards governing botched executions in the United States.
Campbell was tried and sentenced to die for murdering 18-year-old Charles Dials during a carjacking in 1997. After Campbell exhausted his legal appeals, he was denied clemency by the state parole board and the governor.
By the time the state got around to executing Campbell, he was far from the dangerous criminal of 20 years ago. As is the case with many of America's death-row inmates, the passage of time had inflicted its own punishments.
The inmate Ohio strapped onto the gurney was a 69-year-old man afflicted with serious ailm…

Gorsuch casts death-penalty vote in one of his first Supreme Court cases

Supreme Court (left) Justice Neil M. Gorsuch and President Donald Trump
Supreme Court (left) Justice Neil M. Gorsuch and President Donald Trump
Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch cast his 1st consequential vote Thursday night, siding with the court's other 4 conservatives in denying a stay request from Arkansas death row inmates facing execution.

Hours later, the state executed 1 of the men, the 1st lethal injection carried out there since 2005.

New justices have described being the final word on whether a death row inmate is executed - often during a late-night, last-chance appeal to the Supreme Court - as a time when the responsibility of the role crystallizes. Indeed, one of the court's most solid death-penalty supporters, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., flinched the 1st time he was faced with the choice. The day after his 2006 swearing-in, Alito joined the court's liberals in upholding a stay that kept Missouri from going forward with an execution.

Gorsuch's reasoning for his vote in not known. Neither he nor the other justices who turned down the request explained the decision. But Gorsuch was sworn in on April 10, and he has had some time to study Arkansas' well-publicized attempt to execute several inmates before a drug used in their planned lethal injections expires.

The court's 4 liberals - Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan - said they would have stayed the executions.

Breyer wrote that the case supports his call, which Ginsburg has joined, for a review of whether the death penalty can be constitutionally applied.

"Why these 8? Why now? The apparent reason has nothing to do with the heinousness of their crimes or with the presence (or absence) of mitigating behavior," Breyer wrote. Instead, Breyer wrote, "apparently the reason the state decided to proceed with these 8 executions is that the 'use by' date of the state's execution drug is about to expire. In my view, that factor, when considered as a determining factor separating those who live from those who die, is close to random."

As expected, Gorsuch's decisions have been closely scrutinized. A new justice's role on the court is only broadly sketched during confirmation hearings, and each decision begins to fill in the outlines of a lifetime appointment.

Gorsuch has rejected stay-of-execution requests as a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, but he has had limited exposure to the issue of capital punishment.

During his Senate confirmation hearings, he was often asked about a passage in a book he wrote in which he criticizes euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide. "All human beings are intrinsically valuable, and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong," he wrote.

It is the phrase "by private persons" that was key to Gorsuch's response.

Some online commentators have questioned what Thursday night's action says about Gorsuch's "pro-life" credentials. He has a thin record on which his view of a constitutional right to abortion could be assessed. But if he supports the constitutionality of the death penalty and questions a constitutional right to abortion, he would simply be reflecting the various positions on the court he is joining.

The justice he replaced, Antonin Scalia, felt the same on capital punishment and abortion. Liberals such as Breyer and Ginsburg are the opposite, supporting abortion rights while raising doubts about the death penalty.

Gorsuch has faced an immediate immersion at the Supreme Court. He was sworn in on April 10. He skipped the justices' private conference that week to prepare for oral arguments that began last Monday.

Although he asked no questions in one oral argument, he was an active participant in the other 6. Some analyses showed that he asked more questions than many of his colleagues did in their first outings on the court, and he displayed a confidence borne of his decade on the bench.

On Friday, he was scheduled to meet with the rest of the court to examine a long list of cases that would be on the docket that begins in October. When it had only 8 members, the court seemed to shy away from some controversial topics.

But the new list is anything but neutral. They include cases involving gun rights, voting rights and whether businesses can for religious reasons refuse their wedding services to same-sex couples.

Source: Washington Post, April 22, 2017

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Comments

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

Ohio: Alva Campbell execution delayed indefinitely

Here's as Crazy a Death Penalty Story as You'll Find

Nevada releases detailed manual on how it plans to execute death row inmate

Ohio: Alva Campbell will get wedge-shaped pillow for execution; his death could become a “spectacle”

A Travelling Executioner

No Second Chances: What to Do After a Botched Execution

Arkansas Justice: Racism, Torture, and a Botched Execution

Nevada death row inmate placed on suicide watch

Arizona: Man sentenced to death in 2011 death of 10-year-old locked in storage box

One Dead, Three Wounded in Nusakambangan Prison Riot