Why is it okay for a state to murder someone?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by ZZZzzzzzzz, Jul 16, 2007.

  1. Why are we so quick to kill people, allowing the state to murder people?

    "67% of capital convictions are eventually overturned, mainly on procedural grounds of incompetent legal counsel, police or prosecutors who suppressed evidence and judges who gave jurors the wrong instructions.[5][6] Seven percent of those whose sentences were overturned between 1973 and 1995 have been acquitted. Ten percent were retried and re-sentenced to death.[6]"

  2. Arnie


    Is evidence law too tough?
    No inmates have been freed by new petition process; supporters say system works

    Monday, Jul 16, 2007 - 12:09 AM Updated: 08:23 AM

    Virginia court rejected 1st appeal

    Three years after felons were allowed to petition the Virginia Court of Appeals with non-DNA evidence of innocence, few have done so, and none has been found innocent.

    Critics say that is because the law is impossibly tough; others disagree.

    "The criticism from the beginning was that the procedures were too complicated and the hurdles too high," said Kent Willis, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia. "While in principal it was important to pass this bill, the practical effect was minimal."

    "It was essentially set up to fail by creating too many obstacles," he said.

    Not so, said J. Tucker Martin, spokesman for Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell. "The law is working as it should. . . . The fact that no writs have been awarded is a demonstration that the judicial system in Virginia is fair and reliable," he said.

    Martin said he would not speculate on whether there are innocent people in Virginia's prisons who cannot be helped by the law. The record suggests there are.

    DNA testing has cleared 10 Virginians convicted of rape, murder and other serious crimes. A sample testing of 31 old cases several years ago cleared two men of rape who had never sought DNA testing.

    A wider testing program of old cases is under way, and the Virginia Department of Forensic Science expects it to clear more people.

    In 2001, after DNA testing led to the pardon of a former death-row inmate, the legislature made DNA the only exception to a rule barring state courts from considering evidence of innocence if it was discovered more than 21 days after sentencing.

    Inmates with new evidence have always been free to petition the governor for clemency or a pardon, but not the state courts after the 21-day period.

    "The problem with going to the governor," Willis said, "is that that is ultimately a political process. The idea behind this law was to create a presumably fair and objective process by which you could review convictions based on newly discovered evidence."

    Proponents of the 21-day rule argue verdicts must have finality -- that there must be an end to appeals at some reasonable point. Opponents say that in a system that is just, innocence must always trump finality.

    Most states have no time limits. Virginia's 21-day rule is the toughest in the country.

    A problem with limiting exceptions to the 21-day rule to DNA is that most inmates were convicted of crimes that cannot be cleared up using DNA testing -- there either was no biological evidence involved or it no longer exists.

    To bring Virginia in line with other states and to assist felons with non-DNA evidence of innocence, in 2002 the Virginia Supreme Court proposed doing away with the 21-day rule.

    Instead, the General Assembly, after listening to the concerns of prosecutors, the Virginia attorney general's office and victims' rights advocates, passed a "writ of actual innocence" law for non-DNA evidence.

    Proponents said the new law would be the toughest exception to the toughest finality rule in the country and that non-DNA evidence virtually would have to be as persuasive as DNA evidence to prevail.

    Critics say it is difficult to imagine how that can happen.

    "If you're just going to limit it to DNA evidence, say that," said Betty Layne DesPortes, a Richmond criminal-defense lawyer and forensics expert. "Don't give this false hope of a writ of actual innocence that you are never going to be able to prove."

    Among other things, the writ of actual innocence requires that the new evidence could not have been discovered before the 21-day limit expired and that, when considered with the other evidence, it proves "that no rational trier of fact could have found proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."

    DesPortes noted that if the new evidence was available during the 21-day period, then the petitioner is out of luck and an innocent client is punished because of their lawyer's failings, she said.

    Also, she complained that the law does not permit anyone who pleaded guilty -- the majority of those in prison -- to use the law. At least two wrongly convicted people cleared by DNA testing had pleaded guilty, one to avoid a death sentence.

    The law took effect July 1, 2004. According to a spokesman for the Virginia Court of Appeals, as of the end of 2006, 92 petitions had been filed. Eighty-five were dismissed and seven were pending.

    DesPortes suspects that many of the petitions were dismissed because of filing errors by inmates who had to file papers themselves without the help of a lawyer. A petitioner only gets one chance, she said.

    The cases go to three-judge panels of the appeals court, which can dismiss them or ask the Virginia attorney general's office to respond. At that point, the inmate is assigned a court-appointed lawyer.

    Many of the petitions are based on the recantation of the trial testimony of witnesses or the victim, or new statements from purported witnesses.

    A problem, said state Sen. Kenneth W. Stolle, R-Virginia Beach, is that new testimony and recantations can be subject to abuse and fraud. Stolle played a key role in drafting the law and tried to satisfy the concerns of all sides.

    At the time the law was being drafted, there was great concern about its potential for abuse by inmates. So it was designed to minimize that potential, he said.

    "I think that unless somebody is actually innocent and actually has to a large degree irrefutable evidence that they're innocent, they will not be able to take advantage of this writ of actual innocence," Stolle said.

    "All things considered, if the testimony of a victim is the only evidence . . . maybe under that circumstance a recantation could lead to a writ of actual innocence being granted. But that's so rare . . . it very, very rarely ever happens."

    Stolle added: "It would be very difficult for any other evidence . . . to rise to the level that DNA evidence rises to reverse the finding of guilt."

    Stolle, a former police officer, also fought off criticism of the legislation from state officials.

    At one point, opponents got so frustrated they said the law was not needed for non-DNA evidence because the state does not lock up many innocent people. Stolle told them that argument was hollow.

    The ACLU's Willis said it is time for the legislature to revisit the law and make it available to more inmates.

    "Maybe then we will get a glimpse of how fair the judicial system is in Virginia," he said.

    However, the Virginia attorney general's office sees no need for change, nor does Stolle.
    Contact Frank Green at (804) 649-6340 or fgreen@timesdispatch.com.

    Reader Reaction:
    Give your opinion on this story Click this link to post your comment

    Posted July 16, 2007 @ 01:38 PM by lewweinstein
    Given the number of times defendants are wrongly convicted, it is easy to understand why the criminal justice system fights so hard to avoid objective review of its performance. My second novel, "A Good Conviction," tells the story of a young man wrongfully convicted by a prosecutor who knew the defendant was actually innocent and hid the exculpatory evidence that would have led to a not gulity verdict. I invite you to consider "A Good Conviction" at amazon.com. LEW WEINSTEIN
  3. fhl


    Why not just go to the logical conclusion. If there is so little reason to believe that jury trial/sentencing is fair, why lock people up? Let them all go. Isn't that what liberals want? Why keep someone in jail if they might be innocent. It's so cruel.

    Oh, except if it's a high ranking conservative that is accused. Then liberals are ready to impeach and/or send to jail on NO evidence. lol
  4. When you learn the difference between kill and murder you'll have your answer.
  5. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?did=199

    Probably as good a US history as any.

    One that might have really opened eyebrows was this Panetti v. Quarterman case that came down on the last day 5-4 to stop Texas from executing a real looney. Felt fixed to me - like the conservatives knew it was just too outrageous so the 5 of them decided one of their number would switch sides and the rest do their usual conservative schtick. Who knows though, maybe these guys really are serious about executing the mentally ill and retarded. Liberals who think anything is going to go their way on this court can't win on the math. Even if the Democratic winner picks 3 it will still be 5-4 plus Bush put guys on that can go for decades.
  6. Oh, I know how the state rationalizes their murders, most murderers do have a rationalization for why they kill...

    I am questioning the rationalization used by the state to justify murder...

    murder Show phonetics
    noun [C or U]
    the crime of intentionally killing a person:
    Two sisters have been charged with (= officially accused of) murder.
    There were three murders in the town last year.
    The three were convicted of (= proved guilty of) murder.
    murder weapon (= a weapon used to commit a murder)
    Compare manslaughter; suicide (DEATH).

    Bottom line is the state is saying it intends to kill, that it is okay for them to take a life, but not for an individual to take a life.

    Both are murders, one is "legal" the other isn't, but since when did legal have anything to do with moral?

    The right wingers and klannish typically argue that abortion is immoral, even though it is legal, but when it comes to the state killing, they are cool with the immorality of that state sponsored killing because they say it is legal...

    I understand why you don't see the logical inconsistency, as that would take the application of consistency of logic...

    I really don't recall anything close to "Thou Shalt Not Kill Unless The State Is Doing The Killing."

  7. Quite strange that the bench Catholics....all 5 of them, yes 5 of 9 are anti abortion (The Pope's position) and I think 4 of those 5 are pro death penalty (Pope John Paul II and most of the Church opposes the state sponsored murder).

    The Catholic bishops of the United States have provided careful guidance about this difficult issue, applying the teaching of the universal Church to our American culture. Along with the leadership assemblies of many Churches (for example. American Baptists, Disciples of Christ, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Presbyterians), the U.S. bishops have expressed their opposition to the death penalty. First articulated in 1974, the bishops' position is explained in a 1980 statement, Capital Punishment. Individual bishops and state conferences of bishops have repeated in numerous teachings their opposition to the death penalty.

    In their 1980 statement, the bishops begin by noting that punishment, "since it involves the deliberate infliction of evil on another," must be justifiable. They acknowledge that the Christian tradition has for a long time recognized a government's right to protect its citizens by using the death penalty in some serious situations. The bishops ask, however, if capital punishment is still justifiable in the present circumstances in the United States.

    In this context, the bishops enter the debate about deterrence and retribution. They acknowledge that capital punishment certainly prevents the criminal from committing more crimes, yet question whether it prevents others from doing so. Similarly, concerning retribution, the bishops support the arguments against death as an appropriate form of punishment. The bishops add that reform is a third reason given to justify punishment, but it clearly does not apply in the case of capital punishment. And so they affirm: "We believe that in the conditions of contemporary American society, the legitimate purposes of punishment do not justify the imposition of the death penalty."

  8. jem


    Its not really strange at all Catholics do not have to agree with bishops. Unless that Bishop is the Bishop of Rome and he claims to be speaking infallibly. Which is pretty rare. And even then a Judge is sworn to uphold the the Constitution not the Pope's teaching.

    How can someone who is in favor of the murder of babies, in and just outside of womb, argue that the death penalty is wrong on moral grounds.

    The best answer would be to punish lifetime criminals. No talking and very hard physical labor or having them produce goods we only import.
  9. A fetus which is not viable is not a baby.


    Oh, so every judge who swears to put the Constitution before their faith in God and their religion does so...

    How moronic.

  10. Yawn! Same old tired argument. You can no more murder a convicted pedophile/murderer/rapist than you can murder a rabid dog. Those that commit such crimes lose all rights given to otherwise civilized human beings. Argument over. You lose!!
    #10     Jul 17, 2007