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In the Bible Belt, Christmas Isn’t Coming to Death Row

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When it comes to the death penalty, guilt or innocence shouldn’t really matter to Christians.  

NASHVILLE — Until August, Tennessee had not put a prisoner to death in nearly a decade. Last Thursday, it performed its third execution in four months.
This was not a surprising turn of events. In each case, recourse to the courts had been exhausted. In each case Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, declined to intervene, though there were many reasons to justify intervening. Billy Ray Irick suffered from psychotic breaks that raised profound doubts about his ability to distinguish right from wrong. Edmund Zagorksi’s behavior in prison was so exemplary that even the warden pleaded for his life. David Earl Miller also suffered from mental illness and was a survivor of child abuse so horrific that he tried to kill himself when he was 6 years old.
Questions about the humanity of Tennessee’s lethal-injection protocol were so pervasive following the execution of Mr. Irick that both Mr. Zagorski and M…

ACLU asks Nebraska Supreme Court to delay setting execution date

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The ACLU of Nebraska asked the State Supreme Court on Friday to postpone setting an execution date for Carey Dean Moore until four lawsuits are resolved.

The request could delay an execution date for months for Moore, who's spent 38 years on death row, far longer than any of the 11 other inmates sentenced to die.

The motion contests arguments by Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, who has maintained that the legal battle is over and has asked the Supreme Court to expedite the scheduling of Moore's execution. He argued that all "subsequent collateral attacks and other various postponements have been exhausted." Plus, 1 of the state's 4 drugs needed for the execution will expire Aug. 31.

Peterson suggested a July 10 date for the state's 1st execution in 21 years, a date that coincides - by accident, according to the attorney general - with the birthday of State Sen. Ernie Chambers, an ardent foe of capital punishment.

The ACLU, in its filing by legal counsel Amy Miller, said that "several substantial (legal) questions" are pending and that the court should put off an execution to ensure that the state doesn't engage in an "unconstitutional or unlawful execution."

The Attorney General's Office, in response, said that state law requires the setting of an execution date when a death sentence is "final" and no court has issued a stay of execution, which is the case at this point.

"Today's late filing by the ACLU is their latest dilatory effort to obstruct the requirement to carry out final death penalty sentences," said Suzanne Gage, a spokeswoman for the Attorney General's Office. She noted that the ACLU has lost recent court rulings on the issue.

Whether the Supreme Court would set an execution date quickly, or wait until other court cases are resolved, has been a question for speculation.

Moore recently filed a sworn statement with the Supreme Court, affirming that he wants no legal representation to fight the setting of an execution.

Previously, he had told The World-Herald that after spending 38 years on death row, he will not oppose becoming the 1st Nebraska inmate to die by lethal injection. The state's last execution, in 1997, was via the electric chair, which has since been deemed unconstitutional.

But despite Moore's withdrawal, others who oppose capital punishment, including the ACLU, have continued to fight.

The ACLU, in its request to file a brief on behalf of Moore, cited 4 pending lawsuits that relate to the state's death penalty that the group says should "constitute 'just cause' for delaying issuing an execution warrant until they are resolved."

Those pending legal actions are:

-- A lawsuit, now on appeal to the Supreme Court, that seeks to nullify the 2016 referendum approved by voters that reinstated the death penalty. The suit asks the court to declare that the vote came too late and that the sentences of all death row inmates at the time should be changed to life in prison.

-- A lawsuit, also under appeal, that alleges that the state violated its procedures in adopting a lethal injection protocol.

-- A public records action, filed by the ACLU of Nebraska, that seeks the release of information about where, and from whom, the state obtained its supply of lethal injection drugs. That lawsuit is pending before a Lancaster County district judge.

-- A legal spat over whether the state's prison director, Scott Frakes, should comply with a subpoena from the State Legislature to testify about the procurement of lethal injection drugs.

Moore, 60, was sentenced to death for the 1979 killings of Omaha cabdrivers Reuel Van Ness and Maynard Helgeland.

Source: Omaha World-Herald, June 9, 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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