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News Scan

California Law Would Bar Last Minute Clemency:   Sacramento Bee newsman Jim Sanders reports that a constitutional amendment introduced by California Assemblyman Jim Silva would bar the granting of executive clemency during the last 30 days of a Governor's term.  The measure ABA 14, was introduced in response to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's last minute clemency of Esteban Nunez, son of political ally and former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez.  In order to become law the measure would have to pass by both houses of the legislature and be adopted by California voters during a statewide election.   Jim Carlton of the Wall Street Journal reports on other action spurred by the Nunez clemency.  

Escaped Murderer Facing Multiple Charges:  Felicia Fonseca of the Associated Press reports that Tracy Province will be sentenced today after pleading guilty to escape, kidnapping, armed robbery, and other offenses earlier this month.  Province had escaped last summer from the Arizona State Prison where he was serving a life sentence for murder and robbery, and was later captured in Wyoming.  Province will then be sent to New Mexico where he faces capital murder charges for the death of a couple.

Virginia May Expand Death Penalty:  Tracy Sears of the Richmond Local News reports that Virginia Senator Mark Obenshain wants to repeal the "triggerman rule", which allows only the person who commits the actual murder to receive the death penalty with a few exceptions.  Obenshain argues, "If a jury believes that both people involved in a murder had the same willful, deliberate, pre-meditated intent to commit a capital murder, for me and most Virginians, there's no difference in the culpability of those two people."  On Thursday, legislation was passed by a subcommittee of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee that would allow co-conspirators to receive the death penalty in cases of rape where the victim is murdered, to receive the death penalty.  Similar legislation in prior years was vetoed by then-Gov. Tim Kaine.

Defeated Washington Justice Casts Deciding Vote Throwing Out Murder Conviction:  Gene Johnson of the Associated Press reports that Washington's Supreme Court yesterday reversed a murder conviction because the defendant was not present when the attorney and judge decided by email which jurors to excuse for hardship before beginning the "voir dire" questioning process.  Terrance Irby was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2007 for the beating and stabbing murder of James Rock. The court's 5-4 decision concluded that the email exchange which resulted in the discharge of seven potential jurors violated Irby's constitutional right to be present at all critical stages of the trial.  The opinion was joined by Justice Richard Sanders, who was appointed as a temporary judge even though voters recently denied him another term. 

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