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Help Me Out Here - Death Penalty Debate (Page 2)
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Apr 12, 2005, 07:41 AM
 
Doh! My bad. Thanks for the clarification.

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Apr 12, 2005, 07:55 AM
 
Originally posted by Randman:
You said pro-death penalty. It made it sound, to me, as if people advocated killing everyone.

As far as the jury duty, I was saying that you don't have to say you're against the death penalty, even if you are, if you truly wish to be selected for jury duty.
Pro-death penalty is, I thought, self-explanatory.

Anyway, why should someone be barred from jury duty just because you are against the death penalty? I always thought juries are supposedly impartial and a `cross section' of society (a jury of peers).
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Apr 12, 2005, 09:01 AM
 
Originally posted by OreoCookie:
Pro-death penalty is, I thought, self-explanatory.

Anyway, why should someone be barred from jury duty just because you are against the death penalty? I always thought juries are supposedly impartial and a `cross section' of society (a jury of peers).
As I have been explaining, a person isn't barred from duty automatically if they are against the death penalty.

Jurors can, however, be struck for many reasons. One of them is if a juror indicates that he or she cannot follow the law for personal reasons. Jurors have a fairly narrow job, and that job isn't to second guess the legislature. A juror can't change the law any more than a trial judge can. All the juror is supposed to do is to weigh the evidence and decide the facts neutrally.

Of course, jurors are human, and they do bring to the table all kinds of biases and different life experiences. That's part of what the voire dire process is about. The initial jury pool is pretty much a random sample of the eligible public (but not entirely so, because the juror pool is usually drawn from registered voters). Both sides and the judge then get an opportunity to eliminate jurors with certain biases. For example, you might be eliminated if you work in law enforcement, know the victim or the accused, or express an inability to carry out your duties in a dispassionate, objective manner.

Each side also gets a limited number of peremptory strikes. Those can be for any reason. For example, the only time I have been a juror was in a murder trial in D.C. The judge asked me questions about my law school background, and whether I could follow her instructions on the law without superceding my own understanding from law school. I said yes (and meant it), but the defense still struck me and not coincidentally, also the one lawyer in the pool. After that, I got to watch the rest of the peremptory strikes. It was very interesting seeing both sides try to shape the jury for maximum advantage based on very little personal information about the juror. A lot of it is pretty transparently by race and class. Thus, the jury that I saw became a little more middle class, a little more black, and a little more female. (Oh yes, and I observed that if you are a hippy looking young male, you get struck too!).

This is for the defendant's protection as well as the state's. Both sides seek the jury that they think will be most favorable, because, remember, the US judicial system is based on the idea that the truth will emerge only if both sides engage in an adversarial contest in which they try their best to win. This is a little different from the continental system used in Civil Law countries like yours.

So your understanding of the role of the jury in us trials is a bit mistaken. It's not a completely random pool. But it does have to meet a minimum standard of willingness to apply the law.

I think there is another important piece of background that maybe you aren't aware of. Opponants of death qualification (like the late Justices Marshall and Brennan) basically hope that allowing jury nullification will reverse death penalty statutes by the back door by making the process impossibly cumbersome. That is because juries have to decide unanimously. One holdout who will not convict no matter what the evidence is will hang the jury, and force a mistrial. Not an aquittal, but a mistrial. Then both the state and the defense, as well as the courts would be forced to do the whole trial again. It's a burden which the justice system can ill afford.

But, it is also an impermissible burden. If people want to overturn the death penalty, they should do so in the legislature, not by misuse of the jury system.
( Last edited by SimeyTheLimey; Apr 12, 2005 at 09:08 AM. )
     
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Apr 12, 2005, 09:23 AM
 
Originally posted by SimeyTheLimey:
[snipped for brevity]
I'm aware that the jury is a matter of `negotiation' of both sides.

I was replying to Randman who (I'm not exactly sure, because his wording seemed a bit confusing to me) seemed to argue that because someone is an opponent of the death penalty, (s)he would be unfit for jury duty, because this juror would probably `skew' the decision of the jury, maybe even forcing a retrial. He even suggested, those opponents of capital punishment might `infiltrate' a jury to promote their agenda.

I think if the whole jury consists only of ardent supporters of capital punishment, you would have the same kind of bias as if you would only select people who are against it.

I agree that if capital punishment should be abolished, then this should be done by the legislative branch.

One question: does the jury have to decide once or twice to decide whether or not someone should be executed? (What I mean is: decision 1: guilty or not, decision 2: capital punishment vs. life imprisonment or rather: guilty and automatically capital punishment or not guilty?)
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Apr 12, 2005, 09:27 AM
 
Originally posted by OreoCookie:
One question: does the jury have to decide once or twice to decide whether or not someone should be executed? (What I mean is: decision 1: guilty or not, decision 2: capital punishment vs. life imprisonment or rather: guilty and automatically capital punishment or not guilty?)
Depends on the charges as well as the jurisdiction.

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Apr 12, 2005, 09:34 AM
 
Originally posted by Randman:
Depends on the charges as well as the jurisdiction.
Can you elaborate?
Who decides whether or not to execute someone? The jury or the judge?

Take for instance murder 1 ... or does it depend on each state?
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Apr 12, 2005, 10:03 AM
 
Hi OreoCookie: Hope you're having a good day.

Okay, I've got something to say: Here in Florida we're not ALLOWED to know what the sentence may be. For example, we're not involved in the sentencing. The jury is never told whether or not the prosecution is seeking 1 year in jail, life in prison (all sentences that are over a year are automatic prison sentences), or the death penalty.

That is supposedly to protect the process of deliberation by a jury so that the jury pool is relieved of the onus of impacting someone's fate and also to keep the jury pool recruitment more substantive.
     
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Apr 12, 2005, 10:45 AM
 
Originally posted by Cody Dawg:
Hi OreoCookie: Hope you're having a good day.

Okay, I've got something to say: Here in Florida we're not ALLOWED to know what the sentence may be. For example, we're not involved in the sentencing. The jury is never told whether or not the prosecution is seeking 1 year in jail, life in prison (all sentences that are over a year are automatic prison sentences), or the death penalty.

That is supposedly to protect the process of deliberation by a jury so that the jury pool is relieved of the onus of impacting someone's fate and also to keep the jury pool recruitment more substantive.
Hi Cody! I enjoy this discussion, thanks for asking

In this case, I would say, the impact of being against capital punishment is very much limited if you are convinced that someone is guilty.

I would have a problem however, if the vote is supposed to be cast for both: determining the individual guilt as well as capital punishment. The suspect can be found guilty, but the gravity of the punishment should be determined separately (either by a judge or a separate vote).

In my opinion, just the difference between the different standards (federal case vs. various states, etc.) put the accused into additional jeopardy. It should not make a difference where the murder occurred (e. g. in state A, it's less likely to be sentenced to death as in state B).
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Apr 12, 2005, 10:50 AM
 
Yes, it's a great discussion especially when you get pros like you and Simey and Kilbey and MacNStein in the mix.

I have a sick fish that I have to take to the veterinarian but I'll be back later to discuss this more.

Have a good one, all!
     
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Apr 12, 2005, 11:07 AM
 
http://firms.findlaw.com/UWLAlawreview/memo10.htm provides an historical perspective on the right to a jury.
"Bushels' Case arose from a struggle between royal oppression and popular resistance, thereto a fight, which the people won. ... The police arrested Penn and William Mead, charging them with a rather indefinite indictment which was ultimately phrased as "preaching ... and drawing a tumultuous company."(17) Penn and Mead challenged the legality of the proceeding against them.(18) Four jurors, among them Edward Bushel, held out against conviction, and Penn and Mead were acquitted.(19)

Now the wrath of royal tyranny was turned upon the "unfaithful" jury, who were fined and imprisoned.(20) The jurors filed a writ of habeas corpus, and the Court of Common Pleas reversed the trial judge ... Overall, Bushels' Case represents a great victory for both freedom of religion and assembly, and the right and power of the jury to follow its conscience, regardless of the judge's artificial categories of "fact" and "law."
I was originally elected as a precinct committeeman in 1976 and am quite familiar with local government, officials, and even some judges. Technocrats always miswrite some rules and claim their literal (mis)interpretation. (Women aren't persons-14th amendment) sam
     
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Apr 12, 2005, 01:50 PM
 
Originally posted by SVass:
[BI was originally elected as a precinct committeeman in 1976 and am quite familiar with local government, officials, and even some judges. Technocrats always miswrite some rules and claim their literal (mis)interpretation. (Women aren't persons-14th amendment) sam [/B]
Being a kind of an original intent, John Locke small "l" liberal type, I'm quite sympathetic to your historical argument. I agree that the historical role of the jury as a (partially) independent check on the executive has been lost. But the law disagrees.

You have to be careful citing law journal articles because many of them (especially in areas like constitutional law and criminal law) represents what the law professor author thinks the law ought to be, rather than what it is. Sometimes those articles go on to have influence with courts or legislatures, but very often they don't. In fact, usually they don't. Usually, the only difference they make is whether or not the law professor gets tenure or not.

Originally posted by OreoCookie:
In my opinion, just the difference between the different standards (federal case vs. various states, etc.) put the accused into additional jeopardy. It should not make a difference where the murder occurred (e. g. in state A, it's less likely to be sentenced to death as in state B).
The United States is a federal state, not a unitary one. Each state is a separate sovereign. The laws vary widely between states and indeed, that's the point.
     
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Apr 12, 2005, 02:03 PM
 
Originally posted by SimeyTheLimey:
...

The United States is a federal state, not a unitary one. Each state is a separate sovereign. The laws vary widely between states and indeed, that's the point.
When you talk, you often just stick to formalism, but say nothing about the matter itself. I'm aware that state legislation differs widely, in Germany, that's common, too. You do the opposite of what you say some authors in law journals do: write their opinion how law should be.

However, state laws are superseded by federal laws, and also laws can be subject to criteria imposed on -- say -- the state by Europe. Quite often, when the German Supreme Court (which is also considered a `strong' Supreme Court, like America's) declares a certain aspect of a law unconstitutional, it often gives a catalog of conditions that the new law has to fulfill.

Anyway, I'm not here to ask you about formalism, I want to know what you think about it substantially. This is not a law journal, but we are discussion how we (each one of us separately) think law should be, what principles it should adhere to.
( Last edited by OreoCookie; Apr 12, 2005 at 02:09 PM. )
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Apr 12, 2005, 02:20 PM
 
Originally posted by OreoCookie:
When you talk, you often just stick to formalism, but say nothing about the matter itself. I'm aware that state legislation differs widely, in Germany, that's common, too. You do the opposite of what you say some authors in law journals do: write their opinion how law should be.

However, state laws are superseded by federal laws, and also laws can be subject to criteria imposed on -- say -- the state by Europe. Quite often, when the German Supreme Court (which is also considered a `strong' Supreme Court, like America's) declares a certain aspect of a law unconstitutional, it often gives a catalog of conditions that the new law has to fulfill.

Anyway, I'm not here to ask you about formalism, I want to know what you think about it substantially. This is not a law journal, but we are discussion how we (each one of us separately) think law should be, what principles it should adhere to.
When I said "that's the point" I thought that you would understand that it isn't just "mere formalism" but a positive virtue. The US is federal for good reasons -- mostly to do with size and diversity. Most Americans get this pretty implicitly because they grow up with the idea that laws vary across state lines.

The death penalty is actually quite a good illustration. It allows people to more precisely tailor laws according to local sensibilities. So for example, if the people of Massachussetts want to ban the death penalty, they don't have to pursuade the entire country to agree. Massachussetts is free to do its own thing (with certain limits, of course). They therefore aren't forced to keep it because people in (say) Texas want to keep it and outvote them. Or, of course, the other way around.

Criminal procedure is largely controlled by decisions of the US Supreme Court. However, within those limits, the states are free to exercise their traditional jurisdiction. That's because the federal government only has limited powers granted by the constitution. Where the federal government doesn't have jurisdiction, the states or the people have it. That's where it should be so that the laws that communities live with are the ones that they themselves chose.

Besides, we have been doing it this was for over 200 years. It isn't going to change now even if it looks awfully foreign to Europeans. It's not formalism to say that you don't throw away national traditions just because they seem different.
( Last edited by SimeyTheLimey; Apr 12, 2005 at 02:32 PM. )
     
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Apr 12, 2005, 02:23 PM
 
Have you ever noticed that it's the states that like to barbecue the most (e.g., the southern states) that also have a propensity to appropriate and use the death penalty most frequently?



Carry on...

     
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Apr 12, 2005, 02:32 PM
 
Originally posted by badidea:
Cody, I didn't read this whole thread but I have a question for you that you should take some time to think about!

If murder is such a cruel thing, why do you want to murder a murderer?
Because capital punishment isn't murder.

1. The unlawful killing of one human by another, especially with premeditated malice.

It is killing, but it isn't murder.
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Apr 12, 2005, 02:51 PM
 
Capital Punishment defined:

He who has the capital don't get the punishment.
     
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Apr 12, 2005, 07:14 PM
 
That is SO true, budster101!



     
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Apr 12, 2005, 08:47 PM
 
Originally posted by Weyland-Yutani:
Taking their life is not up to us, but to God. He is the life giver and taker.
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Apr 12, 2005, 09:10 PM
 
Originally posted by MacNStein:
Because capital punishment isn't murder.

1. The unlawful killing of one human by another, especially with premeditated malice.

It is killing, but it isn't murder.
But I'd say it violates the Universial Declaration of Human Rights.
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Apr 12, 2005, 09:32 PM
 
Originally posted by undotwa:
But I'd say it violates the Universial Declaration of Human Rights.
No it doesn't. I could go into details, but that's unnecessary. Suffice to say it is easy to make your assertion, but it doesn't stand up to legal analysis.
     
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Apr 13, 2005, 06:02 AM
 
Originally posted by SimeyTheLimey:
When I said "that's the point" I thought that you would understand that it isn't just "mere formalism" but a positive virtue. The US is federal for good reasons -- mostly to do with size and diversity. Most Americans get this pretty implicitly because they grow up with the idea that laws vary across state lines.

The death penalty is actually quite a good illustration. It allows people to more precisely tailor laws according to local sensibilities. So for example, if the people of Massachussetts want to ban the death penalty, they don't have to pursuade the entire country to agree. Massachussetts is free to do its own thing (with certain limits, of course). They therefore aren't forced to keep it because people in (say) Texas want to keep it and outvote them. Or, of course, the other way around.

Criminal procedure is largely controlled by decisions of the US Supreme Court. However, within those limits, the states are free to exercise their traditional jurisdiction. That's because the federal government only has limited powers granted by the constitution. Where the federal government doesn't have jurisdiction, the states or the people have it. That's where it should be so that the laws that communities live with are the ones that they themselves chose.

Besides, we have been doing it this was for over 200 years. It isn't going to change now even if it looks awfully foreign to Europeans. It's not formalism to say that you don't throw away national traditions just because they seem different.
Simey, I wasn't asking for a summary in law history. And I don't think things are so different in Europe than they are in the US.

I wanted to find out what kind of procedures you would find most suitable to allow someone to be sentenced to death. Who should decide (in your opinion) -- a/several judge(s), the jury. If the jury decides, should they decide once (as in guilty and sentenced to death or not guilty) or make two separate decisions?
( Last edited by OreoCookie; Apr 13, 2005 at 06:36 AM. )
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Apr 13, 2005, 06:12 AM
 
Originally posted by MacNStein:
Because capital punishment isn't murder.

1. The unlawful killing of one human by another, especially with premeditated malice.

It is killing, but it isn't murder.
If you believe that words make the difference, then why do you want to kill a killer?
     
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Apr 13, 2005, 09:34 AM
 
Originally posted by badidea:
If you believe that words make the difference, then why do you want to kill a killer?
1. remove the threat to others (including other cons). A person in for grand theft auto doesn't deserve to die at the hands of his murdering cell mate.

2. show other potential murderers that there are serious repercussions for their actions.

3. remove them from the gene pool.


Yes, words do make a difference. They're how we try to define existence.
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Apr 13, 2005, 09:36 AM
 
Originally posted by undotwa:
But I'd say it violates the Universial Declaration of Human Rights.
I don't. They lost that right when they murdered another.
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Apr 13, 2005, 09:56 AM
 
Lets just call it what it is. Its revenge..plain and simple.
     
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Apr 13, 2005, 10:01 AM
 
It's punishment not revenge. Plain and simple.

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Apr 13, 2005, 10:10 AM
 
Originally posted by MacNStein:
I don't. They lost that right when they murdered another.
Nobody ever looses his/her human rights. No matter what they do.
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Apr 13, 2005, 10:14 AM
 
Originally posted by OreoCookie:
Nobody ever looses his/her human rights. No matter what they do.
Is suppose that's where we'll disagree.
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Apr 13, 2005, 10:15 AM
 
Originally posted by Randman:
It's punishment not revenge. Plain and simple.
I don't even look at it as punishment, just prudent extraction.
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Apr 13, 2005, 10:19 AM
 
Originally posted by OreoCookie:
Simey, I wasn't asking for a summary in law history. And I don't think things are so different in Europe than they are in the US.

I wanted to find out what kind of procedures you would find most suitable to allow someone to be sentenced to death. Who should decide (in your opinion) -- a/several judge(s), the jury. If the jury decides, should they decide once (as in guilty and sentenced to death or not guilty) or make two separate decisions?
I don't see a death penalty case as inherently differing from any other felony case. All felony criminal trials should have the same basic elements of due process. That means in essence I want a fair prosecution, and a conviction by a beyond a reasonable doubt standard, by a competant jury, before an impartial judge, on admissible evidence, with the opportunity to confront the accuser(s), and with competant representation. Then, of course, there should be an adequate opportunity for appeal. The procedures can vary somewhat from state to state, and so of course can the substantive law. That is fine so long as the minimums are met.

I'm a long way from being an expert on the precise additional protections that attach in death penalty cases, but they do exist both in law and in practical effect. You get extra appeals and extra care if the penalty is death. You also get a small army in pro-bono representation. That actually raises for me a different question: How much do we diminish the due process rights of the accused who do not face the death penalty? Nobody seems to be very interested when a person gets a long jail term. No army of pro-bono lawyers come to their rescue. If you are wrongly convicted and face life in prison, shouldn't you have the same rights to appeal and get the same degree of due process as someone convicted and facing death? As it presently stands, you do not.

That for me is a more troubling question because I am much more concerned with the wrongful conviction than I am with the penalty that attaches.

That also brings in a second concern that bothers me, and that is the use of plea bargains. If you plead guilty, you waive most of the protections I mentioned above. Now, most people who plead guilty are in fact guilty. But what bothers me is that plea bargains can be used by the prosecution coersively. You can be told that you will get a shorter sentence if you plead guilty or a much longer sentence if you insist on going to trial and be found guilty.

That bothers me because the right to trial is a constitutional right. I don't think that people should be penalized for insisting on their constitutional rights even if it is inconvenient and burdensome for the state. Indeed, making things inconvenient and burdensome on the state is the point of such constitutional rights. A constitutional right that doesn't hinder the government isn't much of a protection, and I think that has become pretty much the story of the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth amendments over the last 50 years or so.

So, these are the issues that bother me, and I think they are a lot bigger and more fundamental than the ones you raise. The death penalty gets people upset because it is visible and emotive. The real problems are much deeper.
( Last edited by SimeyTheLimey; Apr 13, 2005 at 10:27 AM. )
     
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Apr 13, 2005, 10:33 AM
 
Originally posted by MacNStein:
1. remove the threat to others (including other cons). A person in for grand theft auto doesn't deserve to die at the hands of his murdering cell mate.

2. show other potential murderers that there are serious repercussions for their actions.

3. remove them from the gene pool.
1. Put murderers together with other murderers

2. Does not seem to work, don't you think? (shouldn't the US have a lot lower numbers then?)

3. I have a huge problem with "removing someone from the gene pool" (and NOOOOO, I don't want to compare Jews and murderers, I just don't want to remove ANYBODY from the gene pool and I also don't believe that there is a murder gene!!!!)
     
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Apr 13, 2005, 10:35 AM
 
Originally posted by Randman:
It's punishment not revenge. Plain and simple.
Punishment only makes sense if the person has time to feel the results of his/her "punishment"!! A dead person couldn't care less!!
     
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Apr 13, 2005, 11:00 AM
 
Originally posted by badidea:
1. Put murderers together with other murderers

2. Does not seem to work, don't you think? (shouldn't the US have a lot lower numbers then?)

3. I have a huge problem with "removing someone from the gene pool" (and NOOOOO, I don't want to compare Jews and murderers, I just don't want to remove ANYBODY from the gene pool and I also don't believe that there is a murder gene!!!!)
1. So they can kill each other? Yeah, that's MUCH more humane.

2. It would work if we actually executed them, instead of letting them sit on death row for 20+ years. Make it swift and efficient, and people will start to take notice. Look at Singapore.

3. Genes play a role in a person's inclinations towards violence and aggression.
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Apr 13, 2005, 11:17 AM
 
Originally posted by MacNStein:
1. So they can kill each other? Yeah, that's MUCH more humane.

2. It would work if we actually executed them, instead of letting them sit on death row for 20+ years. Make it swift and efficient, and people will start to take notice. Look at Singapore.

3. Genes play a role in a person's inclinations towards violence and aggression.
1. A "proper execution" is humane but a murderer killed by a murderer is not??

2. Are you saying that they think about 20+ years of "vacation" in prison before they commit murder?? (why are the numbers quite low in Germany then? Our prisons are relatively nice!)

3. debatable but shouldn't we nuke Australia then...
     
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Apr 13, 2005, 11:50 AM
 
Originally posted by badidea:
1. A "proper execution" is humane but a murderer killed by a murderer is not??

2. Are you saying that they think about 20+ years of "vacation" in prison before they commit murder?? (why are the numbers quite low in Germany then? Our prisons are relatively nice!)

3. debatable but shouldn't we nuke Australia then...
1. It is more humane, and the more viable choice of the 2.

2. Death is a more frightening concept than "life". A person can still have a "meager" existence in prison... cable TV, hobbies, money, sex, etc..

3. Yeah, they're ALL criminals down there.
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Apr 13, 2005, 01:51 PM
 
2. Death is a more frightening concept than "life". A person can still have a "meager" existence in prison... cable TV, hobbies, money, sex, etc..
You forgot drugs, MacNStein. They get lots of those in prison, too.



By the way, everytime I pay Adelphia $60 for cable television (for the most "basic" package that they have) I think of the fact that we, the people who pay taxes, are paying the cable bill of the prisoners also.
     
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Apr 14, 2005, 05:02 AM
 
Originally Posted by SimeyTheLimey
I don't see a death penalty case as inherently differing from any other felony case. All felony criminal trials should have the same basic elements of due process. That means in essence I want a fair prosecution, and a conviction by a beyond a reasonable doubt standard, by a competant jury, before an impartial judge, on admissible evidence, with the opportunity to confront the accuser(s), and with competant representation. Then, of course, there should be an adequate opportunity for appeal. The procedures can vary somewhat from state to state, and so of course can the substantive law. That is fine so long as the minimums are met.

I'm a long way from being an expert on the precise additional protections that attach in death penalty cases, but they do exist both in law and in practical effect. You get extra appeals and extra care if the penalty is death. You also get a small army in pro-bono representation. That actually raises for me a different question: How much do we diminish the due process rights of the accused who do not face the death penalty? Nobody seems to be very interested when a person gets a long jail term. No army of pro-bono lawyers come to their rescue. If you are wrongly convicted and face life in prison, shouldn't you have the same rights to appeal and get the same degree of due process as someone convicted and facing death? As it presently stands, you do not.

That for me is a more troubling question because I am much more concerned with the wrongful conviction than I am with the penalty that attaches.

That also brings in a second concern that bothers me, and that is the use of plea bargains. If you plead guilty, you waive most of the protections I mentioned above. Now, most people who plead guilty are in fact guilty. But what bothers me is that plea bargains can be used by the prosecution coersively. You can be told that you will get a shorter sentence if you plead guilty or a much longer sentence if you insist on going to trial and be found guilty.

That bothers me because the right to trial is a constitutional right. I don't think that people should be penalized for insisting on their constitutional rights even if it is inconvenient and burdensome for the state. Indeed, making things inconvenient and burdensome on the state is the point of such constitutional rights. A constitutional right that doesn't hinder the government isn't much of a protection, and I think that has become pretty much the story of the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth amendments over the last 50 years or so.

So, these are the issues that bother me, and I think they are a lot bigger and more fundamental than the ones you raise. The death penalty gets people upset because it is visible and emotive. The real problems are much deeper.
The questions you raise are good, but here, the discussion is about capital punishment.

And to be honest, apart from my firm belief that taking lives is wrong, one of your points you have raised is the second-strongest con to the death penalty. If you have a good legal representation, then you have a real advantage over someone `average' (this is obviously true of all legal systems I'm familiar with).

With a good lawyer, you have far better chances to get a less severe punishment (read: avoid the death penalty).

In this sense, a death sentence is more likely if someone cannot afford good legal representation, but with quite severe consequences. It's not just a regular trial, but it could seal the fate of an innocent person. If someone is convicted, although that person is innocent, you can release that person. But once an innocent person is executed, there is no way to undo the damage.

I also agree with your criticism about plea bargains or its civil lawsuit cousin, a settlement. In particular if someone without a huge armada of lawyers in a case that doesn't get much public attention, I can imagine that quite a few would rather accept the bargain than go through trial all the way. (Including those who are indeed guilty, they also deserve that their punishment is determined in a trial.)
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Apr 14, 2005, 09:53 AM
 
Plea bargains are the real reason that the death penalty still exists. The recent Olympic bomber Rudolf case is a typical example as the prosecution gets to strut over a guilty plea without having to go through a trial. In my area, the Green River Killer also did the same a few years ago and the prosecution said that the county saved several million dollars.

Interestingly enough, old Jewish law did NOT allow testimony by the accused or confession to crimes (to prevent suicide and perjury) while old Catholic law appears to have insisted on confession (inquisition). So the argument about plea bargains may get into religious philosophy. (Chris Mathews once wanted Marc Rich, knowing that he held the Jewish faith, to publically confess his previous crimes like a good Catholic should.) sam
     
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Apr 14, 2005, 10:31 AM
 
SVass, do you think this is a good thing then? Sounds more like a mild form of torture to me.
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Apr 14, 2005, 11:19 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie
SVass, do you think this is a good thing then? Sounds more like a mild form of torture to me.
I strongly disagree with plea bargains and I do not agree with overcharging as prosecutors are often accused of doing. Some jurisdictions allow juries to find defendants guilty of lesser offenses such as 2nd degree murder instead of 1st degree letting the prosecutor off the hook. Mental torture is part of our legal system (and has specifically been recommended for use in Guantanamo by our new Attorney General on "illegal combatants"). Remember that our courts would be overwhelmed if every defendant demanded a jury trial. Actually, I have told my local Democratic Party that we should only support for national office those who will request a special prosecutor to look into (subornation of) perjury and war crimes committed by the Justice and Defense Departments and other members of the current administration.
     
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Apr 14, 2005, 12:37 PM
 
     
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Apr 14, 2005, 01:31 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie
I also agree with your criticism about plea bargains or its civil lawsuit cousin, a settlement. In particular if someone without a huge armada of lawyers in a case that doesn't get much public attention, I can imagine that quite a few would rather accept the bargain than go through trial all the way. (Including those who are indeed guilty, they also deserve that their punishment is determined in a trial.)
Civil settlements are different. They do not raise the constitutional concerns I mentioned. They also are more of a wash because both parties have incentives and it is not so clear who is in the position of potential abuser. It is not at all unheard of for a defendant with a good case to nevertheless settle an otherwise frivolous suit because settment avoids a long, expensive, and public legal wrangle.

You are right that the subject is narrowly about the death penalty, but you asked me a direct question about what issues worry me. I'm more worried about the larger due process issues than the narrow issue of the death penalty. In fact, I think the narrow focus on the death penalty allows people to avoid considering the real issues.
     
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Apr 14, 2005, 02:21 PM
 
Putting the murderer to death ensures that such a person will never kill again. It also ensures society that some lawyer won't find some ridiculous loophole to get the client freed sometime in the future giving the creep the chance to kill yet again.

If we erred on the side of caution in everything then we might as well eliminate all laws.
     
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Apr 14, 2005, 02:42 PM
 
Originally Posted by Cody Dawg
You forgot drugs, MacNStein. They get lots of those in prison, too.



By the way, everytime I pay Adelphia $60 for cable television (for the most "basic" package that they have) I think of the fact that we, the people who pay taxes, are paying the cable bill of the prisoners also.
No doubt. The one in Memphis even has PPV.
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Apr 14, 2005, 03:09 PM
 
Originally Posted by krankklown
Putting the murderer to death ensures that such a person will never kill again. It also ensures society that some lawyer won't find some ridiculous loophole to get the client freed sometime in the future giving the creep the chance to kill yet again.

If we erred on the side of caution in everything then we might as well eliminate all laws.
Killing is murder, when the person is in custody and can do no harm to anyone. Keeping him/her alive to do some good on earth is more important in my oppinion than just turning their life off like a switch. It does nothing but show revenge for what they have done.

Close the loopholes then. What about all the innocent people who have been executed?

Make sure that the sentence sticks. Not like in Indiana when even a violent criminal obtains his/her degree, 2 years are cut from their sentence. One rapist put away for 26 years had obtained two degrees, bringing his sentence from 26 to 22, and then with good behavior it was then further reduced to 6 years... What the heck is that? That is a crime.

The fact remains though, innocent people are sometimes victimized by less than scrupulous district attourneys seeking to further their careers in politics... and police officers who are also corrupt. Fix the system and the people in it.
     
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Apr 14, 2005, 03:59 PM
 
Originally Posted by budster101
Killing is murder,
Unlawful killing is murder.

... when the person is in custody and can do no harm to anyone. Keeping him/her alive to do some good on earth is more important in my oppinion than just turning their life off like a switch.
Do some good? You must be kidding.

It does nothing but show revenge for what they have done.
Is it also revenge when we lock someone up for life behind bars?

Close the loopholes then. What about all the innocent people who have been executed?
What about all the innocent victims that have died because we let someone go free? Who cries for them?
     
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Apr 14, 2005, 05:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by MacNStein
1. remove the threat to others (including other cons). A person in for grand theft auto doesn't deserve to die at the hands of his murdering cell mate.

2. show other potential murderers that there are serious repercussions for their actions.

3. remove them from the gene pool.
1. And creating a new threat: you might 'remove' an innocent person. It's not like this never happens.

2. It's been proven again and again that this is nonsense.

3. Aha! I gather that includes eventual children the killer may have produced.
These people are Americans. Don't expect anything meaningful or... uh... normalcy...
     
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Apr 14, 2005, 06:56 PM
 
Putting people in jail has little effect on crime as well, might as well just close all the prisons and jails since (a) someone innocent might be incarcerated, and (b) crime still happens despite having effective police and court systems.

Total anarchy folks!
     
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Apr 14, 2005, 09:39 PM
 
Originally Posted by krankklown
Putting people in jail has little effect on crime as well, might as well just close all the prisons and jails since (a) someone innocent might be incarcerated, and (b) crime still happens despite having effective police and court systems.

Total anarchy folks!
a) Innocent people ARE incarcerated every day. Guantanamo just released a bunch of them! Dna analysis has also proven innocence of many convicted persons.
b) Hogwash. Our system assumes that police and prosecutors aren't liars which, unfortunately, they are. Just the other day, NY City prosecutors said that video tapes were "accidentally" edited to remove proof that demonstrators did not violate the law as policemen swore that they did. The police, the editor, and the prosecutor committed PERJURY and will never be prosecuted. sam
     
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Apr 14, 2005, 10:20 PM
 
I'd have to side with most who are saying they believe death is too easy. Macnstein posted the thoughts of one inmate who was "tortured" with the constant thoughts of what he'd done. I believe that inmate is telling the truth. Life in prison with a contant reminder of what you'd done has got to be hell. I'd also keep a picture of the girl posted in his cell. A reminder each day of what he had done.

The death penalty is not a deterrent, it is not cheaper, and there is in fact chance for error. This is nothing more than an act of retribution. You might say I'd want that if I were the father, I'm not so sure.

Is it just me or does it seem like there's a new account of attacks on children daily? I mean, is it increasing or are we just now more privvy to the info???
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