<< Abolitionism, Down for the Count | Main | News Scan >>


Two Claims off the Capital Defense Word Processor

| 3 Comments
Two of the arguments most frequently lodged against the death penalty are that executions can be botched, leading to extended, severe pain; and that surviving family members don't want the trauma either of the protracted capital legal process or the bitter, sometimes jarring experience of the execution itself.

Both arguments were made by the defense side in last night's executions, and both were, as is typically the case, phony.

Will there be any sanctions for defense counsels' deceit?  Let me ask that another way:  Short of outright perjury or helping to plan the murder of prosecution witnesses, are there ever sanctions for defense counsels' deceit?

You've heard it all before.  Hey, look, we gotta be zealous!  Besides, the actual facts don't look so hot, so what else do you expect us to do?  Honestly, you Puritanical stuffed suits just don't have an ounce of compassion.  Anyway, who can really, actually, finally know "The Truth?"
Thus I bring you these paragraphs from the New York Times story on the executions:

On Monday, the courts rejected a series of appeals by Mr. Jones and Mr. Williams, including an effort minutes before Mr. Williams's execution, arguing it would be unconstitutionally cruel, based on complications Mr. Jones might have experienced. In a court filing, Mr. Williams's lawyers wrote that infirmary workers had tried unsuccessfully to insert a central line in Mr. Jones's neck for 45 minutes, before placing it elsewhere on his body. Then Mr. Jones gulped for air during the execution, the filing said, "evidence of continued consciousness."

The NYT has cleaned this up slightly.  Other accounts say counsel's filing claimed Mr. Jones' experience appeared to be "torturous."

Judge Kristine G. Baker of United States District Court in Little Rock, Ark., issued a temporary stay, but ultimately rejected Mr. Williams's claim, allowing his execution to proceed.

Speaking to reporters after the two executions, a spokesman for Gov. Asa Hutchinson, J. R. Davis, called the procedures to carry out the executions "flawless."

I have no direct way of knowing whether it was "flawless."  Still, when the district court grants a stay mere hours before the execution, based on counsel's claim of constitutionally excessive pain, then lifts the stay after taking time to study the submissions, the only sensible conclusion is that the defense claim was, shall we say, not well documented.  Either that or just made up.

But wait, there's more....

A reporter who witnessed Mr. Jones's execution said he gave a statement in which he apologized to the daughter of the woman he killed. "I am not a monster; there is a reason those things happened that day," he said. "I am so sorry, Lacey. Try to understand. I love you like my child."

The reporter, Andrew DeMillo of The Associated Press, said he saw Mr. Jones move his lips for one to two minutes after the execution began. But he did not detect pain on the man's face, and it was not clear if he was gasping for air.


Oh, OK.  The Associated Press reporter could detect neither severe pain (nor, apparently, any pain), and couldn't say for sure whether Jones was or was not having trouble breathing for a minute or two.

As to the family member's feelings:

In a statement to reporters, the victim's daughter, Lacey Seal, who herself was beaten unconscious by Mr. Jones...expressed relief at his execution. "I am glad it's done," she said. "I'm glad that part of my life, that chapter, is closed."

So the family member's reaction was not, as we so often are told, "We need to stop the killing!" or "Compassion is the only answer!," etc.  Nor, tellingly, did we hear a single expression of hate, or vengeance, or bloodlust  --  none of that, not for all the thousands of times capital defense lawyers have tried to paint death penalty advocates as black-hearted primitives.

The reaction was, instead, what any normal person would feel.  Relief.  Justice completed, finally. "I'm glad it's done.  I'm glad that part of my life...is closed."

It's a closure we have a chance of securing with only one punishment.



3 Comments

Bill, I will try and stay within the bounds of your comment. But, can you really expect better from mere officers of the court when, on a daily basis, outright lies are being spouted out of the mouth of the leader of the free world?

I am sorry to say that the example has been set (by him) and it will only lead to more lying, more cheating, more con man like conduct by everyone in society in general and the justice system in particular.

Unfortunately, in the minds of more and more Americans (starting at the top), the ends do indeed justify the means.

Trying to connect defense counsel conduct in this case with President Trump is preposterous. Your attempt to stay within the bounds of the OP was unsuccessful.

paul, capital defense counsel making patently bogus claims is not a new phenomenon--tying to Trump--"slender reed" does not begin to describe the linkage.

Trump has actually pleasantly surprised me--he seems to have grown in office--admittedly, he had nowhere to go but up and he started out at a low bar.

But compared to 44, Trump is a choirboy. Dig deep into the Musa Ali Daqduq atrocity--how anyone in possession of the facts could not walk away with the white-hot hatred of Obama is simply beyond me.

Leave a comment

Monthly Archives