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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…

Arkansas lawmakers call for removal of Pulaski County judge after 2nd death-penalty protest

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen
At least 2 lawmakers are calling for the removal of a Pulaski County judge after he publicly protested against the death penalty for the 2nd time.

Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen again lay motionless as he strapped himself to a cot Tuesday evening outside the Governor's Mansion.

In a statement, state Sen. Trent Garner, R-El Dorado, called the protest a "pathetic and depressing display."

"He has disgraced the office that he holds for years and now is using a desperate, attention seeking move to further bring shame on himself," Garner wrote.

State Rep. Bob Ballinger, R-Berryville, agreed in a Wednesday morning post on Twitter.

"It is time for #ARLeg to move to impeach Judge Wendell Griffen. Our justice system must be fair and impartial, and is no place for activism," Ballinger said.

Griffen was barred by the Arkansas Supreme Court from hearing capital punishment cases after he rallied against the death penalty on Good Friday last year.

"We are still killing," the judge told onlookers Tuesday when asked why he returned.

Griffen has sued the state's Supreme Court justices, accusing them of violating his constitutional rights. A federal judge dismissed the high court itself but allowed proceedings against its 7 justices to continue.

Meanwhile, Griffen's attorney, Michael Laux, argued that the judge "has the constitutional right to do this, and we will prove it, if need be."

"Whether praying or protesting - it doesn't matter. Both are protected under the First Amendment," Laux said.

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Source: Arkanas Online, Brandon Riddle, April 18, 2018


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but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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