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Kent Scheidegger
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The Supreme Court's term is still young, and yet we have already seen four patently wrong Ninth Circuit habeas decisions reversed without a single Justice agreeing with the Ninth. Priority one should be to make the dismal Ninth better, not worse, in its review of state criminal cases. Regrettably, Goodwin Liu's paper attacking Samuel Alito demonstrates that he is completely in sync with the most-reversed judges of the Ninth. As Liu himself said, intellect and integrity are not enough, and a nominee should be rejected if he is out of the mainstream. Judging this nominee by his own standard, the correct vote is no.
No, the jury as a whole did not "decide to spare Degorski's life." Two jurors held out, and Illinois follows the ill-advised rule that deadlock results in a life sentence. Illinois should either (1) adopt the California rule that deadlock results in a retrial of the penalty phase before a different jury, or (2) adopt the Florida rule that a nonunanimous jury can make a recommendation to the judge, who then makes the final decision.
Crime is down from the horrific levels of the early 1990s and back to early 70s levels. However, the crime rate remains far above where it was in 1960, when the Uniform Crime Reports begin. When have made important progress since we rejected the idealistic but softheaded notions of the 60s and 70s and toughened up on crime, but we have a long way to go. We must proceed with caution and not be stampeded into repeating the old mistakes, as so many people today are urging us to do.
James McInereny asks for authority to support the proposition that a majority supports the death penalty. Happy to oblige. "The majority of Americans continue to support the use of the death penalty as the punishment for murder. Most Americans (71%) also say the death penalty is used either about the right amount or not often enough." -- Lydia Saad, Gallup Poll, "Americans Hold Firm to Support for Death Penalty, Nov. 17, 2008" Kent Scheidegger Criminal Justice Legal Foundation
Toggle Commented Jul 12, 2009 on Death penalty objections at Unfettered Letters