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Sense Prevails in Ohio

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Ohio Governor Ted Strickland today announced he will deny clemency to hit man Jason Getsy. The Parole Board had recommended clemency based on an intracase proportionality theory, which the governor rejected today. Hiror John Santine was tried separately before a different jury hearing different evidence. Most significantly, Getsy's statement was admissible against him but not against Santine due to the Confrontation Clause. Santine's jury did not find the murder-for-hire specification, and Santine therefore could not be sentenced to death.

Should the fact that one conspirator has been shielded from the death penalty by a procedural constitutional right extend to shield everyone in the conspiracy? It seems like a bizarre theory, but a Sixth Circuit panel bought it. CJLF filed an amicus brief in support of the rehearing en banc petition, and the full court granted rehearing and reversed.

The protections built into our system are based on the premise that, as Blackstone said, it is better to let ten guilty men go free than convict one innocent. So, too, the extensive rights we provide defendants sometimes let guilty people partially off with convictions of lower degrees than they committed or lesser sentences than they deserve. That is a price we have chosen to pay, but there is no reason to pay a surcharge of letting the co-conspirator off easy as well. Governor Strickland got it, even though the Parole Board did not. His statement is quoted after the jump.
Governor Ted Strickland today issued the following statement regarding the Ohio Parole Board's recommendation regarding executive clemency for Jason Getsy:

"As a result of his conviction for aggravated murder, Mr. Jason Getsy is scheduled to be executed on August 18, 2009 at 10 a.m.  I have completed my review of Mr. Getsy's request for executive clemency.

"In conducting this evaluation, my staff and I reviewed the record of proceedings and the evidence presented in Mr. Getsy's trial, as well as the record in his co-defendant, John Santine's trial.  We also reviewed the judicial decisions regarding Mr. Getsy's conviction, and arguments presented for and against clemency by counsel for Mr. Getsy and by the Trumbull County Prosecutor, respectively.  Finally, we reviewed videos, photographs, letters, petitions, media reports, and emails received in the Governor's Office regarding this matter, the Attorney General's recommendation, and the July 17, 2009 recommendation of the Ohio Parole Board, along with the exhibits presented at the Parole Authority's hearing and letters received by the Parole Board regarding Mr. Getsy's case.

"Substantial attention has been focused on the different sentences imposed upon Mr. Getsy and his co-defendant, Mr. Santine.  Mr. Getsy and Mr. Santine had different roles in the murder.  The fact that Mr. Santine was not sentenced to death is not, by itself, justification to commute Mr. Getsy's sentence.  Mr. Getsy's sentence was based on his conduct and based upon our review, which included consideration of the differing Santine and Getsy sentences, I do not believe executive clemency is warranted.  Although my decision is inconsistent with the recommendation of the majority of the members of the Parole Board, I appreciate and respect their thoughtful consideration and review of this difficult case."

Doug Berman has this post at SL&P.

1 Comment

"That is a price we have chosen to pay, but there is no reason to pay a surcharge of letting their co-conspirator off easy as well."

Well put.

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