Interesting Supreme Court Death Penalty Rulings

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Ralph
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Interesting Supreme Court Death Penalty Rulings

Post by Ralph » Mon Jun 12, 2006 10:52 am

Justices make key death penalty rulings
Decisions affect lethal injection challenges, DNA testing

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court opened the door Monday to constitutional challenges to lethal injection, the method used by most states and the federal government to execute death row inmates.

In an unanimous decision, the court allowed those condemned to die to make last-minute claims that the chemicals used are too painful -- and therefore amount to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Constitution's Eighth Amendment.

The court's ruling leaves unanswered broader questions about the chemicals used in lethal injections around the country and whether they cause excruciating pain.

In a second death penalty case, the court ruled 5-3 that a Tennessee death-row inmate can use DNA evidence to attempt to show his innocence 20 years after he was convicted of murdering a neighbor. (Full story)

The lethal injection ruling sets the stage for a nationwide legal battle over that subject, with the country's 3,300 death row inmates armed with a new tool to contest how they are put to death.

Justices have never ruled on the constitutionality of a specific type of execution. A constitutional showdown over lethal injection might be the next big death penalty case.

The winner in Monday's decision was Florida death row inmate Clarence Hill, who was strapped to a gurney with lines running into his arms to deliver the drugs when the Supreme Court in January intervened and blocked the execution.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the court, said that while Hill and other inmates can file special appeals, they will not be always entitled to delays in their executions.

"Both the state and the victims of crime have an important interest in the timely enforcement of a sentence," he wrote.

Hill, convicted of killing a police officer, had run out of regular appeals so he went to court using a civil rights law claiming that his constitutional rights would be violated by Florida's lethal injection drug protocol. The court's decision renews his bid to have Florida change its chemical combination.

The decision is setback for Florida and other states that will have to defend more last-minute filings from inmates. More than two dozen states had filed arguments at the court seeking the opposite outcome. They said dragged-out appeals jeopardize justice for victims' families.

Lethal injection is the main method used by every state that has capital punishment except Nebraska. Nebraska still has the electric chair, although that, too, is being contested.

Kennedy said that Hill is not claiming that he cannot be executed, only that he should not be forced into a painful execution.

"Hill's challenge appears to leave the state free to use an alternative lethal injection procedure," Kennedy wrote.

Justices seemed worried about the possibility of pain when they took up Hill's case in April. Justice John Paul Stevens told Florida's lawyer that their procedure would be banned for use to euthanize cats and dogs.

Following the Supreme Court's intervention in the Hill case, executions were stopped in California, Maryland and Missouri.

The case was one of several major death penalty appeals to come before a court that has two new members.

Retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote the court's 2004 ruling in its last lethal injection case. Justices said then that an Alabama death row inmate could pursue a last-ditch claim that his death by lethal injection would be unconstitutionally cruel because of his damaged veins.

In Monday's ruling, Kennedy wrote that the court was only following precedent set in that case.
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jbuck919
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Post by jbuck919 » Mon Jun 12, 2006 12:09 pm

I think they should play them Dittersdorf in their cell until they beg for it.

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Re: Interesting Supreme Court Death Penalty Rulings

Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Jun 12, 2006 1:25 pm

Ralph wrote:Kennedy said that Hill is not claiming that he cannot be executed, only that he should not be forced into a painful execution.
That's a laff. What usually happens when a challenge to a death penalty succeeds? The sentence is commuted to life in prison.
"Hill's challenge appears to leave the state free to use an alternative lethal injection procedure," Kennedy wrote.
Yean, right! - Vinnie Barbarino
Following the Supreme Court's intervention in the Hill case, executions were stopped in California, Maryland
? California has had . . . what? One execution in the last 44 years? And Maryland juries haven't coughed up a death sentence in almost that long.

The case was one of several major death penalty appeals to come before a court that has two new members.

Ralph, did I lose a bet on this? Or was the bet about maximum security prisons being struck down?
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Post by jbuck919 » Mon Jun 12, 2006 2:01 pm

With the exception of a few renegade states like Texas and Florida (who have recently had governors with the most politically opportunistic name in modern US history), there is little stomach for the death penalty in the US. How long we can keep on playing this game of sentencing people to death because it is politically expedient but never carrying out the sentences because nobody who actually is responsible for realizing the penalty really wants to do that anymore is anybody's guess, and while we continue to play the game we waste a lot of money and continue to make ourselves a laughingstock.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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Re: Interesting Supreme Court Death Penalty Rulings

Post by Ralph » Mon Jun 12, 2006 2:06 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
Ralph wrote:Kennedy said that Hill is not claiming that he cannot be executed, only that he should not be forced into a painful execution.
That's a laff. What usually happens when a challenge to a death penalty succeeds? The sentence is commuted to life in prison.
"Hill's challenge appears to leave the state free to use an alternative lethal injection procedure," Kennedy wrote.
Yean, right! - Vinnie Barbarino
Following the Supreme Court's intervention in the Hill case, executions were stopped in California, Maryland
? California has had . . . what? One execution in the last 44 years? And Maryland juries haven't coughed up a death sentence in almost that long.

The case was one of several major death penalty appeals to come before a court that has two new members.

Ralph, did I lose a bet on this? Or was the bet about maximum security prisons being struck down?
*****

I thought our bet was about 24 hour isolation, one hour of which is solitary exercise. That's in the courts now.

I'm against the death penalty but I can think of a dozen forms of instant execution, a few messy but all guaranteeed to cause no pain.
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Corlyss_D
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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Jun 12, 2006 2:41 pm

jbuck919 wrote:there is little stomach for the death penalty in the US.
Just try eliminating it. Texas and Virginia would keep live this honorable tradition even if the rest of the nation decided it didn't want the death penalty any more.
How long we can keep on playing this game of sentencing people to death because it is politically expedient but never carrying out the sentences because nobody who actually is responsible for realizing the penalty really wants to do that anymore is anybody's guess
Some time back you raised an objection to the elimination of jury trials. I'd wager a considerable sum that if judges were responsible for convicting and sentencing both, the death penalty would disappear.
and while we continue to play the game we waste a lot of money and continue to make ourselves a laughingstock.
Well, you got me on the money angle. I agree that the way we do it now - conviction followed by appeals until the perp dies a natural death - is criminally wasteful. My answer? Eliminate all but one appeal and eliminate the successive federal appeals after the state appeals are exhausted. In fact, I'd like them executed within 30 days of sentencing. Then you could bet it would have the deterent effect that it now lacks.

BTW I think the decision on the DNA evidence was correct. As dispositive as DNA is, it would be a huge miscarriage of justice to deny a defendant the opportunity to have his case retried on the basis of new evidence.
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jbuck919
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Post by jbuck919 » Mon Jun 12, 2006 2:48 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:there is little stomach for the death penalty in the US.
Just try eliminating it. Texas and Virginia would keep live this honorable tradition even if the rest of the nation decided it didn't want the death penalty any more.
Sure. Just the way they kept alive an "honorable tradition" in 1861.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Corlyss_D
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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Jun 12, 2006 2:57 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:there is little stomach for the death penalty in the US.
Just try eliminating it. Texas and Virginia would keep live this honorable tradition even if the rest of the nation decided it didn't want the death penalty any more.
Sure. Just the way they kept alive an "honorable tradition" in 1861.
Try as you might to confuse the two, it don't fool anyone.
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jbuck919
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Post by jbuck919 » Mon Jun 12, 2006 3:00 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:there is little stomach for the death penalty in the US.
Just try eliminating it. Texas and Virginia would keep live this honorable tradition even if the rest of the nation decided it didn't want the death penalty any more.
Sure. Just the way they kept alive an "honorable tradition" in 1861.
Try as you might to confuse the two, it don't fool anyone.
It's not supposed to fool anyone.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by Lilith » Mon Jun 12, 2006 4:00 pm

I remember putting my pet dog to sleep by injection a few years ago.
I held the dog as the Vet injected the needle and, afterward, I remember commenting to him, through my tears, that it was incredible that human beings didn't have this option.
How best to go out than being in the arms of the one who loved you most?
I can only wish........................................

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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Jun 12, 2006 4:20 pm

Lilith wrote:I remember putting my pet dog to sleep by injection a few years ago.
I know the feeling. I've had to do it twice in the last 3 years. I agree. We should all have that right.
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Lilith
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Post by Lilith » Mon Jun 12, 2006 4:24 pm

It is soooo difficult ... I'm sorry you have had to do it that often.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Jun 12, 2006 4:39 pm

Lilith wrote:It is soooo difficult ... I'm sorry you have had to do it that often.
Thank you. We owe them a good death in loving arms for the joy they have given us, but the cost is so dear. We see them that way, in that circumstance, for so many years afterward.
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Ralph
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Post by Ralph » Mon Jun 12, 2006 9:54 pm

I can't have a dog so I have two great cats. They're both almost 13 and in good health. I dread the day when that changes.
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