Patterico's Pontifications


L.A. Times Describes Anti-Death Penalty Partisan as Neutral Expert

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 12:05 am

The L.A. Times‘s leftist Henry Weinstein yesterday cited Neutral Expert Deborah Denno in praise of Judge Jeremy Fogel’s decision stating that California’s lethal injection protocol appears to be unconstitutional:

Schwarzenegger “is appropriately assuming responsibility for correcting the deficiencies in the state’s protocol,” said Fordham University law professor Deborah Denno, an expert on methods of punishment who has followed the California case closely. “At the same time, it is unclear whether the governor will order hearings of the type requested” by Morales’ attorneys in a companion case in Marin County Superior Court, Denno said.

I have bolded the description of Denno to highlight the way Weinstein presents her: as a Neutral and Knowledgeable Expert. This is no accident. His original article on the decision had a similar description of Denno, as he quoted her praise for the decision:

“Judge Fogel’s decision is bold and incisive,” said Fordham University law professor Deborah Denno, an expert on methods of punishment. “It is the most comprehensive decision in the country to determine that a state’s lethal injection protocol, in its current form, is intolerable and unconstitutional under the 8th Amendment.”

What Weinstein doesn’t bother to tell you in either article is this: Denno opposes the death penalty. In fact, she’s made something of a sideline out of it, at a minimum — if not an entire career.

Evidence? Yeah, I’ve got evidence:

The San Francisco Chronicle:

The key to compliance with U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel’s ruling is “a different attitude,” said Deborah Denno, a professor at Fordham University School of Law in New York and an opponent of the death penalty. “Judge Fogel is putting the onus on the governor.”

Orin Kerr of the Volokh Conspiracy:

For more writing on Judge Fogel’s opinion, check out critical posts from Patterico and Beldar (who describe the opinion as unsupported by existing law) and this favorable perspective from death penalty opponent Deborah Denno (who calls the opinion “bold” and “incisive”).

From a paper called the River Front Times:

“Most of these protocols provide an enormous amount of detail about how to get the prisoner to the execution room: what time he leaves the cell, things like that. But as soon as he leaves that cell, there’s nothing — there’s nothing available,” says Denno, a self-described opponent of the death penalty who specializes in the legislative history of capital punishment.

A summary of one of her articles on lethal injection procedures says:

The results of this article have been used in constitutional challenges to lethal injection across the country.

Hmmm. Has she been called as a witness in those cases? The Palm Beach Post says yes:

Deborah Denno, a Fordham University law professor who has testified in several lethal injection cases, said botched injections are “a common problem.”

“This problem has been going on for decades,” she said. “What it says is that legalized forms of execution have to be conducted in such a way that those very requirements almost ensure disaster.”

So: Denno is a self-described opponent of the death penalty, who has written an article that has been used to challenge lethal injection protocols across the nation, and who has testified for the defense in many such cases.

Yet to the L.A. Times‘s Henry Weinstein, Denno is just “an expert on methods of punishment who has followed the California case closely.”

Well, that certainly sounds more credible than describing her as the partisan she is.

It’s a good thing Judge Fogel trusts Weinstein enough to cite him right there in his judicial opinions!

P.S. Treatment of Prof. Denno as a neutral expert with no axe to grind is not limited to the L.A. Times. Which other paper is a culprit? If you guessed the New York Times, you win the kewpie doll. You also qualify if you guessed the AP — always a good answer if the question relates to leftist media bias.

7 Responses to “L.A. Times Describes Anti-Death Penalty Partisan as Neutral Expert”

  1. I read Mr Weinstein’s column that you linked, checking specifically for the comments by Miss Denno. It’s true that Mr Weinstein did not in any way identify Miss Denno as an opponent of capital punishment, but, reading the article as objectively as I could, I couldn’t see any place that Miss Denno made a specific anti-death penalty argument in Mt Weinstein’s column. The worst thing that I saw was the following paragraph:

    Denno said she thought it would be advisable to hold public hearings when the state adopts a new lethal injection protocol rather than doing it in private. She said that would be a better way for the governor’s office to develop a protocol “that rectifies the problems that have dogged lethal injection,” which has been used in California since 1996, starting with the execution of “Freeway Killer” William Bonin.

    Unless one asserts that there have been no problems with lethal injection, which is the contention of the judge’s decision in the first place, I see nothing objectionable in the citing of Miss Denno, limited to the quotes from her Mr Weinstein used. Perhaps Mr Weinstein would have been more precise in labelling her as an opponent of capital punishment, but in this particular instance not doing so did no harm.

    And, truth in advertising requires here that I state that yes, I am an opponent of capital punishment, but I have written previously that I thought capital punishment should be ended by the actions of the state legislatures, and not by judicial fiat.

    Dana (3e4784)

  2. In the first Weinstein article (I linked two) she called the judge’s opinion “bold and incisive.”

    I noted that quote in the post.

    Patterico (de0616)

  3. For whatever reason, I got through to the first article you linked (the one I quoted), but the other one (which you described as the original article) was hidden behind the log-in wall.

    [I can’t explain that, but the quote from that article is right there in the post. It’s interesting how one’s support for the underlying policy pushed by an article makes one more cavalier about poor journalistic standards in the article. — P]

    Dana (3e4784)

  4. Liberal mush heads will write all sorts of babling crap for liberal idiot judges making stupid ruling that judge should lose his job and get a new one picking up trash in griffith park

    krazy kagu (4455b0)

  5. The LAT has a long history of mis-labeling authors, both on the opinion page and in the “news” columns. I first became aware of the practice about fifteen years ago when an essay appeared on the Opinion Page written by a guy all of us knew as, Eric the Red, meaning Eric was a commie. Not only a commie but a life long one who as a yoot advocated the violent overthrow of our government. Everybody who knew him knew, and the Times absolutely must have known also.

    It’s how they try to sway us morons into voting liberal.

    Howard Veit (2d4db0)

  6. Wow, the Riverfront Times (St. Louis’ own free weekly rag) gets a mention on Patterico! Usually they are just good for 1-900 sex numbers…if you are into that sort of thing. (Which I’m totally not. I swear!)

    iconicmidwesterner (8018ee)

  7. Isn’t anyone putting pressure on Arnold to appeal this trash? From what you’ve posted, the decision blatantly disregards 9th Circuit (!) precedent regarding burden of proof.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

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