Patterico's Pontifications

10/2/2007

Texas Executions (almost certainly) On Hold

Filed under: Crime,Law — DRJ @ 6:32 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

Texas highest criminal appeals court stayed Wednesday’s scheduled execution of Heliberto Chi, making it virtually certain that future Texas executions will be put on hold while the Supreme Court considers the constitutionality of lethal injections.

From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

“The ruling was handed down without a formal vote just after the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected Chi’s plea for clemency. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to review claims that lethal injection violates the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

“I think we can now have a substantive debate on the manner in which we execute people in Texas,” said Houston attorney David Dow, one of the lawyers seeking to spare Chi from the execution that had been scheduled for Wednesday evening in Huntsville.

Dow of Houston, represents the Honduran government, and Wes Ball represents Chi. They noted in separate filings to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals that the U.S. Supreme Court last week blocked the execution of Texas inmate Carlton Turner because the justices were preparing to consider whether any pain inflicted by three-drug lethal cocktails violates the constitution ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The injections are used by most states that allow capital punishment.

The attorneys also pointed out that 10 states so far have suspended the practice of lethal injection amid concerns that the process masks intense suffering because one of the drugs paralyzes the condemned inmate in the minutes leading up to death. Texas, which leads the nation in the number of executions year in and year out, has no plans to suspend the use of lethal injection.

“Texas’ absence from the list of 10 is glaring,” Dow said in his brief submitted to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.”

This was inevitable. We need to get this issue resolved.

— DRJ

27 Responses to “Texas Executions (almost certainly) On Hold”

  1. Bring back the firing squad!

    Patterico (bad89b)

  2. That works for me!

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  3. Lethal injections are now cruel and unusual? Maybe we should go back to stoning. Or drowning. Burning at the stake, perhaps?

    JD (f718d0)

  4. Guillotine….

    reff (f42b98)

  5. I agree that this was inevitable and that we need to get it resolved. But I’m not at all convinced that at least five Justices will agree on a single opinion. The Court’s recent Eighth Amendment precedents have been a shambles anyway. Throw in technology and who knows where they’ll go. From the standpoint of death penalty opponents, a badly splintered decision that foments many more years of trial and appellate court litigation is the optimum possible solution. I suppose it will come down, yet again, to Mr. Justice Anthony “Sweet Mysteries of Life” Kennedy, which scares the hell out of me precisely because Eighth Amendment cases have been some of his most squirrelly.

    Beldar (b3518e)

  6. Lethal injection should certainly be found cruel and unusual, but the real issue with the Texas death penalty system is that it puts innocent people at too great a risk of being executed. I am really concerned as a taxpayer that my money will be used to put someone to death who is innocent and who was not able to prove his innocence because he had an incompetent attorney or because the prosecution withheld facts that could have exonerated him.
    http://stopexecutions.blogspot.com/2007/09/hair-evidence-preserved-by-judge.html

    dei (00e67c)

  7. There is nothing cruel and unusual about LI. All the arguments against it are based on junk science. I hope Texas continues making death row inmates file petitions to the ussc instead of issuing a blanket stay.

    dave (987d37)

  8. The blog dei linked to is entirely misleading. Once again the death penalty opponents are manufacturing an innocent man executed story.

    http://www.clarkprosecutor.org/html/death/US/jones682.htm

    dave (987d37)

  9. I still argue for a .30-30 rifle bullet to the temple. Quick and utterly painless, if messy. Failing that, the punch press head smasher.

    Or course, the next claim will be that anticipation of execution is cruel and unusual punishment. Especially in California where such anticipation is so rare.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  10. It is impossible to execute someone in the 9th Circuit with less than a 20 year delay while every possible stone is uncovered, with do-overs quite common for the least reason. How anyone can say that an innocent will be executed is beyond me. Damn few guilty will be executed in California. I bet they get discounts on life insurance. Effing disgrace.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  11. Fine, outlaw lethal injection.

    Strangling post, anyone?

    McGehee (25adee)

  12. Or course, the next claim will be that anticipation of execution is cruel and unusual punishment. Especially in California where such anticipation is so rare.

    I seem to recall that when the death penalty was originally declared unconstitutional, one of the arguments used was similar to this line of reasoning:

    1. It was cruel because the condemned had to wait so long between receiving the sentence and its actual application.

    2. It was unusual because it happened so infrequently

    Someone with a better memory than me — or with the initiative to research this — feel free to correct me, but that’s what remember from 36 or so years ago.

    To me, the long delay in carrying out the sentence is a good thing, because it helps prevent us from executing someone who really is innocent. To argue that the long delay is in fact cruel while at the same time protecting the convicted is walking both sides of the street.

    steverino (5fd2be)

  13. Slightly off topic from letha injections but did anyone see this article?
    http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/wireStory?id=3671842

    From the description it opens the very real possibility that an innocent person has been executed. The story doesn’t elaborate more than the paragraph below but as it unfolds more details are sure to emerge.

    “Adding to the department’s woes is word from federal prosecutors that they are investigating claims that homicide detectives tortured suspects into confessing to murders that landed them on death row in the 1980s.”

    voiceofreason (ab690e)

  14. I seem to recall that when the death penalty was originally declared unconstitutional, one of the arguments used was similar to this line of reasoning:

    No. However, those are arguments that opponents have used and have been shot down.

    From the description it opens the very real possibility that an innocent person has been executed.

    That’s a stretch. Got a name of this mythical innocent person executed by the State of Illinois?

    dave (2e8be5)

  15. Dave,

    If they tortured people into confessing and the person was put on death row, there is certainly a possibility.
    If that were to be proven the dynamics of the death penalty debate would change greatly.

    Voice of Reason (10af7e)

  16. Either someone was tortured and their illegal confession put them on death row and they were actually executed or not. So, give us a name.

    dave (2e8be5)

  17. Dave,
    If you took the time to read the article you would see that there are allegationsthat this occurred. As I’ve said three times now that raises the possibility that an innocent person may have been executed. Note that the article mentions suspects plural tortured into confessions and being put on death row. (Translation: may be more than one)
    You would also see that some of the torture was videotaped.

    As the investigation develops and more is revealed/proven the possibilitywill be proven or disproven.

    Hypothetically, if a case like this proved that an innocent person was executed it is my opinionthat the debate about the death penalty would change substantially.

    Voice of Reason (10af7e)

  18. And I’m calling bullshit. There has only been 12 executions in Illinois since the death penalty has been reinstated. Which executee was tortured into giving a confession and but for that illegal confession would not have been executed? Since, you can not even come up with a name, there is neither a possibility nor an actuality.

    And is my opinion you are blowing it out of your butt.

    dave (2e8be5)

  19. whatever dave, there have been numerous cases already in which persons on death row have been exonerated due to DNA evidence. Does a person have to be actually executed before it is an issue?

    Take a look at http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?did=110&scid=

    The point is that our system is making too many mistakes at this point to be completely comfortable with the death penalty.

    Voice of Reason (10af7e)

  20. whatever dave, there have been numerous cases already in which persons on death row have been exonerated due to DNA evidence.

    IOW, none were executed. And, yes, an innocent person has to be actually executed to claim that an innocent person has been executed. Be honest. Even if their was dna evidence, a confession, and a video tape of the murder in progress, you would still oppose the death penalty. So, your arguments against it are disingenuous at best.

    dave (2e8be5)

  21. be actually executed before it is an issue?

    is what I actually asked. Apparently you are content with the system and even if and when that happens, you will still be okay with it “no perfect system exists” or some such opinion….

    Voice of Reason (10af7e)

  22. The anti-DPs will continue to nitpick until they convince the SCOTUS that not only shouldn’t execution hurt, it should be pleasureable.

    I suggest the swift and sure guillotine, but with added features: The condemned is blindfolded, laid down on a Tempurpedic mattress, and is given an iPod with his/her favorite lullaby. As soon as sensors detect REM sleep, SCHHHHWACK!

    L.N. Smithee (5b909c)

  23. L.N.,

    I know you are kidding to make a point but there is speculation that a person can survive 10+ seconds after being guillotined, including anecdotal reports that will stand your hair on end. Couple that with the beheadings of the past years and the guillotine might be the last choice.

    DRJ (d48e2d)

  24. Apparently you are content with the system and even if and when that happens, you will still be okay with it “no perfect system exists” or some such opinion….

    Blah, blah, blah. And you are content to speculate instead of dealing with facts because, as they say — you ain’t got none.

    Re Guillotines: Definitely the last choice but death is immediate.

    dave (2e8be5)

  25. I believe the guillotine is a serious option; even wrote Governor Perry about it (still haven’t gotten a response btw). Anecdotal gibberish aside, from what I understand the sudden loss of blood pressure to the brain once the head is severed should cause instantaneous loss of consciousness (though nerve activity can create some interesting illusions to a spectator). And besides, who says we can’t induce unconsciousness beforehand!

    As far as cops putting people on death row through forced confessions well, if that were to happen, then as far as I’m concerned it’s no different than if the cop had killed the man with his own gun. That he used the state to have the man killed instead does not mean there is something wrong with the way the state administers justice; its facilities were exploited by an individual with criminal intent. The argument for this, and for any concerns about the plight of innocent people convicted of crimes, should be leveled against the trial court system and affected police agencies. It has nothing to do whatsoever with the subsequent state-administered punishment, which must proceed under the assumption of guilt in order for the system to function properly. Nobody’s talking about eliminating the prison system because people get locked up for crimes they don’t commit, and you don’t get a discount on your speeding ticket because the officer may have made an error.

    El Cid (c67ca2)

  26. You also have to take into account the psychological effects on the executioner when deciding on a method of execution. I think the guillotine would be difficult for an executioner.

    DRJ (d0ada6)

  27. The humane way to execute someone? Thinking about the sentence Humane, execute, murderer, death, gee maybe its just unpleasant for everyone involved

    When a Murder is committed there is a long list of people who have been affected

    The Victim
    The Victim’s relatives
    The Victims Friends, Neighbors, Co Workers etc

    Then the Police who have to see the scene
    Then the Prosecutors who have to relieve the crime second by second
    Then there’s the judge, baliffs, clerks, jury pools

    And we in the end are concerned that the one person who started all of this, may feel some discomfort?

    EricPWJohnson (695c44)


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