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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…

Florida Supreme Court rejects 9 death penalty appeals

Witness room, Florida's death chamber
After similar rulings recently in at least 80 other cases, the Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected appeals from nine Death Row inmates.

All of the cases involve inmates who were sentenced to death before a June 2002 cutoff date.

The appeals stemmed from a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a case known as Hurst v. Florida and a subsequent Florida Supreme Court decision.

The 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling found Florida's death-penalty sentencing system was unconstitutional because it gave too much authority to judges, instead of juries.

The subsequent Florida Supreme Court ruling said juries must unanimously agree on critical findings before judges can impose death sentences and must unanimously recommend the death penalty.

But the Florida Supreme Court made the new sentencing requirements apply to cases since June 2002.

That is when the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling known as Ring v. Arizona that was a premise for striking down Florida's death-penalty sentencing system in 2016.

In each of the recent cases, the Death Row inmates had been sentenced to death before the Ring decision and argued unsuccessfully that the new unanimity requirements should also apply to their cases.

The inmates who lost appeals Wednesday were Darryl Brian Barwick in a Bay County case; Paul Anthony Brown in a Volusia County case; Milford Wade Byrd in a Hillsborough County case; Louis B. Gaskin in a Flagler County case; Mark Allen Geralds in a Bay County case; Ronald Palmer Heath in an Alachua County case; Thomas Dewey Pope in a Broward County case; Bobby Allen Raleigh in a Volusia County case; and Pablo San Martin in a Miami-Dade County case.

Source: News Service of Florida, February 28, 2018


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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