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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…

Julian McMahon and Paris Aristotle honoured for defence of human rights

Julian McMahon and Paris Aristotle with self-portraits by Myuran Sukumaran
Julian McMahon and Paris Aristotle with self-portraits by Myuran Sukumaran
Barrister who works pro bono for people on death row and refugee advocate among those recognised in Queen’s birthday list

The abolitionist lawyer Julian McMahon and the refugee advocate Paris Aristotle have been recognised in this year’s Queen’s birthday honours list.

Julian McMahon, a Melbourne barrister, has been appointed a companion of the Order of Australia for his dedication to defending human rights, in particular advocating for defendants facing the death penalty.

The president of Reprieve Australia since 2015, McMahon has worked pro bono for death-row defendants including: Van Tuong Nguyen, hanged in Singapore in 2005; George Forbes, wrongly accused, then exonerated of murder in Sudan in 2007; and the Bali Nine members Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, who were executed by firing squad in Indonesia in 2015.

His work has raised public awareness globally of the death penalty, as more and more countries abolish capital punishment.

In the wake of Chan and Sukumaran’s executions, McMahon said the killing of Australian citizens overseas for non-violent drug offences had solidified public opposition in Australia to capital punishment.

“I think it’s been a developing idea basically since the execution of Van Nguyen, which many people rightly thought was an appalling outcome,” McMahon told Fairfax Media.

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Source: The Guardian, Ben Doherty, June 11, 2017

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