FEATURED POST

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

Image
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…

Alabama House committee votes to shorten death penalty appeals

MONTGOMERY, ALA.-- Death row inmates would have less time to file appeals, under a bill approved Tuesday by the House Judiciary Committee that aims to reduce the number of years that can elapse between sentencing and execution.

The legislation, which has already cleared the Senate, would require inmates to raise claims such as that of ineffective counsel at the same time as the inmate's direct appeal claiming trial errors. 

Currently, inmates appeal trial errors first and then begin appeals on other issues, such as ineffective counsel. The bill now moves to the House floor.

State appeals in Alabama capital cases can take 15 to 18 years, said Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster. That timeframe would drop to nine to 11 years under the proposal, Ward said.

Ward said inmates would have the same number of appeals. He said the bill is based on the appellate process in Texas.

Opposed lawmakers said they feared that it would diminish the ability to uncover mistakes in capital cases.

"In my opinion, and many others, this bill substantially increases the likelihood that someone who is innocent will be put to death because we want to rush through the process and kill someone," said Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa.

"I disagree," Ward replied.

England noted the case of an Alabama inmate who was freed in 2015 after 30 years on death row.

Ray Hinton was convicted of murders at two 1985 fast food restaurant robberies in Birmingham. After the Equal Justice Initiative agreed to represent him in 1999, Hinton won a breakthrough when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Hinton's trial defense was so deficient that it was unconstitutional. Prosecutors dropped plans for a second trial when three state forensic experts couldn't match crime scene bullets to the revolver taken from Hinton's home.

Ward argued that appeals would be resolved sooner by consolidating the process.

Source: Associated Press, May 9, 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!

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

New Hampshire: More than 50,000 anti-death penalty signatures delivered to Sununu

Texas: The accused Santa Fe shooter will never get the death penalty. Here’s why.

Post Mortem – the execution of Edward Earl Johnson

What Indiana officials want to keep secret about executions

China: Appeal of nanny's death penalty sentence wraps up

Texas prisons taking heat over aging execution drugs experts say could cause 'torturous' deaths

Ohio: Lawyers seek review of death sentence for 23-year-old Clayton man

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

Texas executes Juan Castillo

Iraq court sentences Belgian jihadist to death for IS membership