Joseph P. Nadeau, who served on New Hampshire's Supreme Court for six years and as a judge for 37 years, recently testified before the state's death penalty commission about his opposition to the practice. In an op-ed, Judge Nadeau summarized the moral and practical reasons why he believes capital punishment should be repealed. "Our thinking evolves, as people, technology, and societies progress," he said. "And what is acceptable at one time in our history may become unwelcome at another. So we are encouraged to re-examine our core principles and to consider whether death continues to be an acceptable punishment in New Hampshire." He dismissed the notion that the death penalty is needed to honor law enforcement officers: "Its abolition does not dishonor those who serve in law enforcement because honor comes from personal pride and earned respect, not from the ability of the state to execute a human being."
Judge Nadeau continued, "No legal system is perfect. Human beings make mistakes. That is one reason we accept the notion that occasionally the guilty will go free and the innocent will be convicted. But I do not believe anyone accepts the notion that it is all right for a person to be wrongfully executed. So with the most respected judicial system in the world, how can we willingly embrace a sentence which cannot be reversed after it is imposed; and how can we continue to believe that it is morally acceptable for the state to take a human life?" Read full op-ed below.