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NEW VOICES -- Palm Beach Post Editorial: Plea Bargain Underscores the Arbitrariness of the Death Penalty

Posted: December 21, 2004
While applauding a life-sentence plea bargain arranged by Palm Beach County's State Attorney in an especially heinous murder, the Palm Beach Post said the state had "forfeit[ed] the moral standing to execute anyone else."

The State Attorney said that he agreed to let the defendant plead guilty to killing 5 people because the life-without-parole sentnece will bring finality. The Post noted: "The state saves not only the cost of a trial; the victims' relatives - who supported the deal - do not have to relive the horror. The state will save more by avoiding years
 

Massachusetts' "Foolproof Death Penalty" Idea Achieves Questionable Status

Posted: December 21, 2004

In its annual eclectic collection of ideas from the past year, The New York Times Magazine included the "Foolproof Death Penalty" propsed by Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. The Times attempts "to salute the absurdly wide range of human originality" and culls its entries not only from mainstream sources but also from the "tattoo culture and fast food management, horticulture and shoe design." In response to Romney's notion of "error-free capital punishment," Berkeley law professor Franklin Zimring said that the proposed

 

Poll Finds Waning Support for Death Penalty

Posted: December 21, 2004
According to a recent poll conducted by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, only 62% of respondents support capital punishment for persons convicted of murder, and Americans prefer the sentencing option of life without parole when given the choice. Overall support for capital punishment has fallen since Quinnipiac's poll in June 2004, when support registered 65%. Similar shifts in public opinion found growing support for life-without-parole sentences. In the December poll when respondents were given a choice, only 42% supported capital punishment while
 

California Plans $220 Million Death Row While Inmates Wait 4 Years to Start Appeal

Posted: December 20, 2004
California already has the largest death row in the country and is now planning to build a new $220 million facility designed to house more than 1,400 death row inmates. State Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald M. George said that the large death row reflects the consequences of a careful appeals process that is designed to ensure due process for those facing execution. "The virtues of the system also represent its vices because it does end up causing a lot of delay," stated the Chief Justice, a former prosecutor who notes that
 

Kansas Death Penalty Statute Ruled Unconstitutional

Posted: December 17, 2004
The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that the state's 1994 death penalty law is unconstitutional because it contains a provision giving the state an advantage when jurors find the aggravating and mitigating factors presented at sentencing to be equal. In that circumstance, the current law states that the defendant must be sentenced to death. The Court ruled that such a provision does not allow the jury to express a reasoned moral response to the evidence, and the process does not comport with the human dignity required by the Eighth Amendment.

This jury
 

NEW VOICES: Manhattan's DA Says Death Penalty "Exacts a terrible price"

Posted: December 16, 2004

As New York lawmakers conducted the first in a series of hearings on the state's death penalty, Robert M. Morgenthau, Manhattan's long-serving District Attorney, recommended that New York abandon the practice: "It's the deed that teaches, not the name we give it," Morgenthau said, quoting George Bernard Shaw. He went on to note, "The penalty exacts a terrible price in dollars, lives, and human decency. Rather than tamping down the flames of violence, it fuels them....I urge all of our lawmakers, in the strongest possible terms, not to reinstate the death penalty in New

 

NEW VOICES: Andrew Cuomo Calls for Reexamination of NY's Death Penalty

Posted: December 15, 2004
Andrew Cuomo (pictured), who served as U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 1997 to 2001, recently urged New York lawmakers to put an end to the death penalty. The state is holding hearings on capital punishment in the wake of a N.Y. Court of Appeals decision finding the statute unconstitutional earlier this year. In his op-ed in The New York Times, Cuomo noted:

The Democrats, who control the Assembly, should make it clear that they will not pass a new death penalty law. This will take courage, but it
 

DPIC RELEASES 2004 REPORT SHOWING SHARP DECLINE IN DEATH PENALTY USE

Posted: December 14, 2004
Read the Press Release. Copies may be obtained by contacting DPIC. The report will be posted on our Web site in the near future.
 

Supreme Court Clarifies the Application of Ineffective Assistance Of Counsel Standards

Posted: December 14, 2004
On December 13, 2004, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that the effectiveness of defense counsel's performance must be judged by standards previously set out by the Court in Strickland v. Washington. In Florida v. Nixon, Joe Nixon's attorney told the jury his client was guilty without his client's express consent. After the jury sentenced Nixon to death, the Florida Supreme Court overturned Nixon's conviction, holding that counsel's concession of guilt automatically fell below an objective standard of reasonable performance, necessitating a new
 

Supreme Court to Consider Impact of International Ruling in Death Penalty Cases

Posted: December 13, 2004
On December 10, 2004 (Human Rights Day), the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of Jose Medellin to determine what effect the United States should give to a recent ruling by the International Court of Justice at the Hague, the United Nations’ highest court. In the case of Medellin and 50 other Mexican nationals on death row, the World Court ruled that the U.S. failed to inform Mexico of their arrests, in violation of the 1963 Vienna
 

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