by Hannah McCartney
Posted In: Courts
at 08:53 AM | Permalink
Judge rules state again capable of carrying out death penalty
Ohio can now resume carrying out executions for the first time since November 2011, after a ruling Wednesday from U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost of Newark. In January, Frost halted the Ohio execution of condemned murderer Charles Lorraine in light of several slip-ups by the state in following its own execution protocol. On Feb. 8, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Frost’s decision, ruling that the number of documented failures to follow procedure were enough to place an official moratorium on executions. The failures to follow protocol were reportedly mostly minor paperwork technicalities, including not properly documenting that an inmate’s medical files were reviewed and switching the official whose job it was to announce the start and finish times of the lethal injection. The state argued that the errors were minor, and didn’t legitimately affect the state’s ability to carry out humane executions. Frost, however, expressed frustration at the state’s failure to follow codes it had set itself. "Ohio has been in a dubious cycle of defending often indefensible conduct, subsequently reforming its protocol when called on that conduct, and then failing to follow through on its own reforms," Frost wrote in his January ruling. Frost's ruling means that the state will move forward with the April 18 execution of Mark Wiles, who was found guilty for stabbing a 15-year-old boy to death in1985. Frost recently denied Wiles' request for a stay of execution. Although his ruling sided with the state, Frost seemed somewhat wary of the state's promises to reform. Since the moratorium, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has allegedly scrutinized its procedural policies and implemented a new "Incident Command System," which sounds like an initiative for ORDC Director Gary Mohr to more closely micromanage the processes during state executions.
"This court is therefore willing to trust Ohio just enough to permit
the scheduled execution," Frost wrote regarding his rejection of Wiles' stay of execution. "The court reaches this
conclusion with some trepidation given Ohio's history of telling this
court what (they) think they need to say in order to conduct executions
and then not following through on promised reforms." To date, Ohio has executed 386 convicted murderers. Click here for a schedule of upcoming executions in Ohio.
by Hannah McCartney
Supreme Court upholds lower court ruling that state has failed to follow proper protocol
A ruling that resulted in a temporary halt in Ohio executions last week means there are 148 inmates on Ohio's death row with uncertain futures. Ohio's death penalty is currently under scrutiny, largely due to opposition that's been raised from documented failures to follow protocol in state executions. In January, Federal District Court Judge Gregory Frost of Newark, Ohio halted condemned murderer Charles Lorraine's Ohio execution because Ohio has allegedly demonstrated problems over the last several months upholding the execution protocol the state put in place itself in 1981. On Feb. 8, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Frost's decision, saying that because Ohio had been proven to stray from its own execution policies, it couldn't be trusted to carry out Lorraine's execution or any other death sentences. The next execution in Ohio is scheduled for April. Frost is one of several advocating for the abandonment on Ohio's death penalty. "For close to eight years, the Court has dealt with inmate challenges to the constitutionality of Ohio’s execution protocol. During that time, the litigation has morphed from focusing primarily on allegations of cruel and unusual punishment to allegations of equal protection violations. Ohio has been in a dubious cycle of defending often indefensible conduct, subsequently reforming its protocol when called on that conduct, and then failing to follow through on its own reforms," said Frost in his written opinion. He goes on to describe instances in which state agents lied to the Court concerning state executions, expressing frustration about the state's lack of commitment to constitutional execution. "No judge is a micro-manager of executions and no judge wants to find himself mired in the ongoing litigation in which he must continually babysit the parties," said Frost. That's just a piece of it; there are other judicial bigwigs hoping to have Ohio's death penalty overturned, including Senior Associate Justice for the Ohio Supreme Court Paul Pfiefer, who helped write Ohio's death penalty law when he was a state senator more than 30 years ago. According to Pfeifer, he's changed his mind because he sees the option of life without the possibility of parole more moral and socially beneficial. Evidently, most of the deviations from the execution regulations were minor paperwork technicalities. Huffington Post reports the errors included switching the official whose job it was to announce the start and finish times of the lethal injection and not properly documenting that the inmate's medical records were reviewed. Those in support of the hold, however, make another point. Controlling life and death is the most important power the state of Ohio holds; if it can't follow minor rules that it set for itself, who's to say there won't be larger, more detrimental errors in the future? It's difficult to tell whether or not Ohio will just get a slap on the wrist for its slip-ups or if reform will be seriously considered. The death penalty has almost always been a part of Ohio's history, since it became a state in 1803. Ohio ranked third in the U.S. for executions among the 34 states that have the death penalty in 2011. Listen to Paul Pfeifer and hear more about the controversy on The Sound of Ideas radio program below.
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 1, 2012
It’s got to if we want to preserve any semblance of a functioning
democracy in our nation. “It” is overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s dreadful Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
ruling. The decision
undid nearly a century’s worth of campaign finance regulation in the
0 Comments · Tuesday, May 25, 2010
When Elena Kagan was nominated for the Supreme Court, an immediate story was that her confirmation would mean "three Jews, six Roman Catholics and no Protestants." The media still have a lingering fixation on Jews. Not Judaism, Jews. Somehow it often seems necessary to identify people by their religion when they're Jews.
0 Comments · Monday, February 1, 2010
It didn't take long before I realized the true horror of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision freeing corporations to spend freely to support political campaigns. It wasn't the new potential for corruption or wealth drowning out other voices. It's the promise of more campaign ads on local TV.
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Those of us who received frantic text messages reading the likes of "MJ died today … FUCK!" were surprised and relieved to find out later that basketball legend Michael Jordan was, in fact, alive and well. The news wasn't so great for Pop icon Michael Jackson, who died suddenly at his Los Angeles home at age 50 and received hours of TV news tributes, tweets and descriptions of his "troubled" life in his honor.