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

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…

Nebraska Pardons Board denies clemency hearing for death-row inmate Carey Dean Moore

The Nebraska Board of Pardons removed an obstacle to the state's 1st execution in 21 years Tuesday by denying a clemency hearing for death-row inmate Carey Dean Moore.

Gov. Pete Ricketts, Attorney General Doug Peterson and Secretary of State John Gale voted unanimously to reject Moore's application for a commutation hearing. The votes from Ricketts and Peterson were expected, given that both are vocal proponents of capital punishment.

None of the board members commented about their votes during Tuesday's brief meeting. Like all inmates who petition the board, Moore was not permitted to attend and no one spoke for or against his application.

The governor declined to comment on his way to an appointment after the meeting.

The attorney general said he believes the Nebraska Supreme Court may now act on a recent motion for Moore's death warrant, which cannot be issued while a clemency request is pending.

Gale, however, said there's still a chance Moore could get a commutation hearing.

If the Supreme Court orders Moore's execution to be carried out, the board could reconvene and take up the question again, Gale said. Typically the board places a 2-year moratorium for new clemency requests following a denial, but an exception could be made for an inmate facing imminent execution, he added.

Gale said the board routinely denies hearing requests except under extraordinary circumstances.

Few inmates have escaped death row via a commutation by the Pardons Board. The last was 1964.

Moore, 60, was sentenced to death for the 1979 killings of 2 cabdrivers in Omaha. He has spent nearly 2/3 of his life under the threat of execution and is by far the longest serving of Nebraska's 11 death row inmates.

Moore recently told The World-Herald that he is no longer fighting to block his execution in the courts. In his clemency application, however, he said since Nebraska officials "are either lazy or incompetent to do their jobs, or both, I should receive a full pardon."

The attorney general recently petitioned the Supreme Court to issue a death warrant for Moore. Peterson's court filing said Moore has no pending appeals or motions for postconviction relief that would impede the execution.

Carey Dean MoorePeterson, however, did not mention Moore's application for a pardon hearing in the death warrant filing. Although Moore filed the application in September, the attorney general said Tuesday his office was unaware of it until after he filed the document seeking the death warrant.

Moore, 60, shot and killed Omaha cabdrivers Reuel Van Ness and Maynard Helgeland in summer 1979. Both men were 47-year-old fathers and military veterans.

The state has not carried out an execution since 1997 and has never used lethal injection to end the life of a condemned inmate.

In November, prison officials announced they had obtained supplies of 4 drugs they planned to use to carry out a lethal injection. Prison officials then notified Moore in January that they intended to proceed with his execution.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska has filed legal actions challenging the state's death penalty protocol, which it argues should force a delay in Moore's execution until they are resolved.

Source: Omaha World-Herald, Joe Duggan, April 17, 2018

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

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