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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…

California defense attorney files rare death penalty motion

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- For the first time in Fresno County Superior Court history, a defense attorney has filed a rare motion, arguing a death penalty qualification on a jury panel for an African American defendant will deprive them of equal protection.

Attorney David Mugridge's client, Leroy Johnson spent almost nine years in jail on murder charges.

Mugridge says studies show most African Americans are against the death penalty and he is worried those jurors will be disqualified based on their predisposition toward life rather than death.

He argues his client will not receive the right to a fair and equal sampling of all races.

"Theoretically as a defense attorney I'd love to have everybody on the jury be opposed to the death penalty, the people have the right to a fair and balanced jury just as much as the defendant does and I just want to make sure it ends up being fair and trial for both sides," said Mugridge.

Johnson's trial was supposed to start in January, but it could be postponed.

Mugridge also says this has only been done in the State of California once before.

Source: abc30.com, December 14, 2017


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