Pennsylvania Death Penalty News

Started by Jeff1857, December 04, 2007, 03:27:19 PM

previous topic - next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Go Down

heidi salazar

RON TODT, Associated Press Writer

PHILADELPHIA (AP) ― Ten years ago, Gary Heidnik had two slices of cheese pizza and a couple of cups of black coffee, met with his daughter, and spent the rest of the day on his bed or pacing his cell. That night, he was given a lethal injection for imprisoning, torturing and murdering two women in the basement of his Philadelphia home.

In the decade since, Pennsylvania has executed no one. Its death row is the fourth-largest in the nation, yet the 218 men and five women are far more likely to die of natural causes than injected chemicals, gas, electricity or bullets.

Since the commonwealth reinstated the death penalty in 1978, three inmates have been executed; all had dropped their appeals. At least seven times that number have passed away, most of natural causes such as cancer or heart failure, while awaiting execution, according to an informal Corrections Department tally.

To find a Pennsylvania inmate unwillingly put to death, you have to go back almost half a century to the last use of the electric chair.

"I think it is indicative of a split -- people want the death penalty but don't want a lot of executions," said Richard Dieter of the Washington-based Death Penalty Information Center.

It wasn't always so in Pennsylvania. The commonwealth has recorded more than a thousand executions in its history, starting with public hangings in the time of the early colonists. Hundreds were put to death in the electric chair during the first half of the 20th century.

Supporters of the death penalty attribute the recent dearth to resistance in the courts, while opponents point to errors in past cases discovered during the close scrutiny of the appeals process.

Defense attorneys say there's good reason for the modern reluctance, given recent high-profile exonerations of death row inmates. Last year, Nicholas Yarris, freed from Pennsylvania's death row in 2004 after 23 years behind bars on murder and rape convictions, reached a multimillion-dollar settlement with the county in which he was prosecuted.

"When you look at some of the people who have been exonerated, it's quite a frightening thing to know that we could have been executing an innocent person," said Charles Cunningham of the Defender Association of Philadelphia. "It's bad enough to put an innocent person in jail, but to take that person's life, it's horrifying."

A 2007 American Bar Association assessment noted such cases and chided the commonwealth for not taking steps to make erroneous convictions less likely, such as ordering preservation of biological evidence and recording interrogations. A state Supreme Court committee in 2003 called for a moratorium, saying minorities make up two-thirds of the inmates on death row.

New Jersey became the first state in four decades to abolish the death penalty in 2007, and New Mexico followed suit this year. Others are considering doing the same, citing not only concerns about possible execution of the innocent or bias in application, but also concerns about the cost of the system.

"You could be maintaining them in prison for less, but that's essentially what they are -- they are in prison for life through an expensive process," Dieter said.

Prosecutors, however, defend the use of capital punishment and state lawmakers have shown no inclination to end it.

"It would be ironic to repeal the death penalty, if the people believe it's an appropriate punishment in a very small number of cases, merely because opponents of the death penalty have tried to frustrate its operation," Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney Ronald Eisenberg said.

Thirty-five states allow the death penalty, but only nine or 10 in a typical year have executions; of the 37 last year, most were in the South -- and most of those occurred in Texas. California has the nation's largest death row with 678 inmates but has had only 13 executions since 1978.

Dieter said he believes all elements in the justice system -- prosecutors, juries, state and federal courts, governors -- have to be willing to impose the ultimate penalty for it to be applied regularly. That is the case in Texas, for example, but not in other jurisdictions, where at least one element finds fault with the option or the way it is applied.

"I think there's a lot of ambivalence about the death penalty, but not enough to overturn it, not enough to completely eradicate or abolish it," he said. "That's a hard vote for a legislator or governor. So you have this stalemate."

Duquesne University law professor Bruce Ledewitz, a former secretary for the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, says that while polls show that the public backs the death penalty in Pennsylvania, the support appears less strong than in other states and the issue has not been made a political priority.

"For years, I used to tell people 'Just wait, the floodgates will open and we'll have a ton of executions,'" Ledewitz said. "I no longer say that anymore, because for some reason it's not happening. ... I don't see any evidence that it will."

Since Heidnik's death, Pennsylvania has come close to executions a few times.

In 2000, Daniel Saranchak was to be executed for the 1993 shooting deaths of his grandmother and uncle, but a federal judge ordered a new trial, citing an ineffective lawyer. And George Banks was to be put to death in 2004 for the 1982 massacre of 13 people, but a state judge said he was too mentally ill.

On July 6, 10 years to the day after Heidnik's execution, Rendell signed the death warrant of an Altoona man who petitioned the governor to do so. Walter Wright III was convicted of killing the husband of a woman he had dated briefly after bursting into their home early Thanksgiving morning in 1998.

Wright, who has maintained his innocence, is scheduled for execution Sept. 3. Federal public defenders, though, immediately jumped in with a request to halt the proceedings while they map out an appeal on constitutional issues -- leaving the death chamber unused into another decade.

http://kdka.com/wireapnewsfnpa/Pa.death.row.2.1099555.html

heidi salazar

Pennsylvania lawmakers debate who should decide if defendants have mental capacity to face death penalty

Eight years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that convicted criminals with mental retardation cannot be given the death penalty.
   
But the ruling left it up to each state to determine how to handle such cases, and Pennsylvania has yet to do so.
   
Lawmakers, advocates and law enforcement officials clash on a key issue:
   
Should a judge determine if a person lacks the mental capacity for the death penalty, or should the jury decide?
   
The debate resumed Monday at a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee. The panel heard arguments on a bill before state lawmakers that would give judges the power to make the decision before the case goes to trial.
   
The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Mary Jo White, R-Venango County, was passed by the state Senate last summer.
   
Under the bill, to be considered mentally retarded, the person must score low on IQ tests, have significant limitations in adapting to society and must have been diagnosed with the disability by age 18.
   
White said at Monday's hearing that it doesn't make sense to go through the expense of a death-penalty trial only to have a person deemed ineligible for the punishment.
   
"Our criminal justice system is in danger. It's a budget-buster," White said.
   
Capital trials are more expensive than other trials. They require more expert witnesses and higher standards for jury selection and defense counsel.
   
County officials and many disability advocacy groups support the bill.
   
Bill Burke, a board member of The Arc of Pennsylvania, said juries are not qualified to make the clinical diagnosis that someone is mentally retarded. He said it would also take time and money to educate juries.
   
"A person's mental retardation makes them vulnerable during the trial itself, which is why it is important to resolve the question of capital punishment before the trial commences," Burke said.
   
Many states determine mental capacity prior to trial, said Jim Ellis, a University of New Mexico law professor and the attorney who argued the U.S. Supreme Court case in 2002. The Florida Supreme Court overturned a state law that determined mental retardation post-trial, he said.
   
Law enforcement officials argue that a jury should make the decision in such cases.
   
Juries already decide claims of insanity or self-defense, said Dauphin County District Attorney Edward M. Marsico Jr.
   
Juries are better equipped to make the determination after hearing the facts of the case, Marsico said. Plus, a possible death sentence gives attorneys more plea options, he said.
   
"Passing this bill is an elitist response to a problem that really doesn't exist," said Marsico, who appeared at the hearing. "This bill tells our citizens they are not smart enough to decide this issue, even with instructions from a judge."
   
In the case of Joey Miller, a former Steelton resident convicted of four murders, the plan before the state House would have prevented a capital trial from occurring and prevented an appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
   
A judge vacated Miller's death sentence after she deemed him mentally retarded, based on low IQ scores and participation in special-education classes. He is serving a life sentence.
   
Miller's crimes "were well thought out," Marsico said.
   
Miller was married with children, held a job and planned the killings, targeting minority women -- factors that led Marsico to discount claims that Miller had intellectual disabilities.
   
"Based on his life, we believed he was someone who should not escape the death penalty," Marsico said.
   
The state attorney general's office and the Fraternal Order of Police also oppose the plan. They worry that everyone facing a death-penalty trial will try to convince the judge they are mentally impaired.
   
"This will be raised often," said Chris Carusone, chief deputy attorney general. "If there's any hint of a mental problem ... it will be raised."
   
The House panel took no action Monday. State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks County, the committee chairman, said he is unsure how many members on the panel support the plan. But he said he would call it to a vote if White would ask him to.

http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2010/08/pennsylvania_lawmakers_debate_1.html

Jeff1857

Should a jury or judge determine whether a murderer is mentally retarded?Locals weigh in on a

Eight years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a murderer who is mentally retarded cannot face the death penalty because it's cruel and unusual punishment.
But the ruling allowed states to decide how to handle such cases, and in Pennsylvania, officials are still debating whether a judge or a jury should determine whether a defendant is mentally retarded.

State senators voted 45-2 last year in favor of a bill that would allow a judge to determine whether a defendant is mentally retarded before a trial begins. The House Judiciary Committee is now debating the issue.

In the community, prosecutors, defense attorneys and advocates for the mentally disabled differ on whose role it is to make the call. Some cite financial concerns as part of their argument.

Local defense attorney Jeffrey Marshall, who is certified to handle death-penalty cases, said he sees it as an eligibility issue and thinks a judge should make the decision before trial. It's similar to a judge determining whether a defendant is competent to stand trial.

"I see it as a separate issue," Marshall said.

Otherwise, a jury would have to make the determination after the defendant is found guilty of first-degree murder. He questioned whether the jury would have a separate hearing on the issue before considering the aggravating and mitigating circumstances for the death penalty phase.

Gregory Knox, executive director of the ARC of York County, said he worries that testimony presented at trial might prejudice jurors in ruling on whether the person is mentally disabled.

A ruling before trial would ensure a fair, independent determination, Knox said.

The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania supports the Senate bill for a pragmatic reason: It would help to save money.

First-degree murder trials cost double what non-capital ones do, said Michael D. Chambers, executive director of the Mental Health/Mental Retardation Program Administrators Association of Pennsylvania. It is an affiliate of the county commissioners association.

The cost for trials falls on the taxpayers, and having a judge decide whether the defendant is eligible for the death penalty before a trial would help to save money, Chambers said.

Others, however, think a jury should determine whether a murderer is mentally retarded. The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association is one.

"We have a strong tradition in Pennsylvania in putting our faith in juries, and they have served us well for over 200 years," executive director Richard Long said.

Juries listen to the evidence and make difficult decisions -- including whether a defendant is guilty -- and they do it well, he said.

It's an "elitist move" to say that a jury is not capable of coming to a proper decision, Long said.

His association doesn't see a big difference financially by having a jury decide, Long said. Capital cases involving a defendant with mental retardation are few and far between.

Some say they don't care whether a judge or a jury makes the ruling.

"I think either of them are capable of making the decision," York County District Attorney Tom Kearney said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

THE CHAMBERS CASE

Karl Stephenson Chambers was convicted of first-degree murder and received the death penalty twice in the 1986 beating of 70-year-old Anna Mae Morris.

Both sentences were overturned, and in 2005, Chambers was sentenced to life in prison after a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that held the execution of mentally retarded murderers was cruel and unusual punishment.

Judge John S. Kennedy deemed Chambers mentally retarded and therefore not subject to the death penalty.


http://www.ydr.com/rss/ci_15924288?source=rss

AnneTheBelgian

http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/200644

Governor Rendell Urges General Assembly to Review Effectiveness of Pennsylvania's Death Penalty

PR Newswire

HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 14, 2011

HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In one of his final acts as governor, Governor Edward G. Rendell today wrote to the General Assembly to urge legislators to review the effectiveness of Pennsylvania's death penalty.

Earlier today, the Governor signed six execution warrants, bringing to 119 the number of warrants he has signed during his eight years in office. No executions were carried out during his time as governor.

Media contact:  Gary Tuma, 717-783-1116

Editor's Note: The text of the Governor's letter follows:

Jan. 14, 2011

To Members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly:

As of this date, I have signed 119 execution warrants since taking office in January 2003, and not one execution has been carried out during the last eight years.  In fact, none are even close to having a final date set.  The only executions carried out since the death penalty was reinstated in Pennsylvania in the late 1970s were two in 1995 and one in 1999, and those three men - Keith Zettlemoyer, Leon Moser, and Gary Heidnik - had waived their appeals and asked that their sentence be carried out.

There are inmates on death row today who were convicted and sentenced to death during my tenure as District Attorney of Philadelphia County (1978-1986).  As a former District Attorney and as a death penalty supporter, I believe the death penalty can be a deterrent - but only when it is carried out relatively expeditiously.  Of course, great care must be taken to ensure the guilt of the offender, and every advance in science and technology should be made available to the defendant.  However, a 15-, 20-, or 25-year lapse between imposition of a death sentence and the actual execution is no deterrent.  In the public's eye, the crime and the victim may be long forgotten. To criminals on the street, our death penalty is simply not a reality.

The time lapse between conviction and execution generally results from capital defendants' efforts to exhaust every legal challenge to their conviction and death sentence that is available to them under state and federal law.  That is the way it should be; every meritorious issue must be raised and addressed.  While Congress and this body have enacted laws to help curtail and streamline the appellate process in capital cases, the length of time between the imposition of the sentence and actual execution, if it occurs at all, can be decades and is still too long.  Victims' survivors are frustrated; the police are frustrated.  The lengthy appeals process not only costs taxpayers substantial money, but it also robs the victims' families and friends of peace of mind, and they get no closure.

Therefore, it seems to me that the time has come to re-examine the efficacy of the death penalty under these circumstances.  I would ask you to explore whether there can be any additional steps taken that allow for a thorough and exhaustive review of the facts and the law in each case, but that would significantly shorten the time between offense and carrying out the sentence.  If you conclude that there is no avenue to achieve this, then I ask you to examine the merits of continuing to have the death penalty on the books - as opposed to the certainty of a life sentence without any chance of parole, pardon or commutation.  You should also explore whether creating that type of life sentence would require a Constitutional amendment.

Sincerely,

Edward G. Rendell, Governor

SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor















Anne
"DEATH PENALTY OPPONENTS WHO TWIST THE TRUTH TO PROTECT KILLERS ARE ALSO TORTURING VICTIMS FAMILIES" (PETER BRONSON, CINCINNATI ENQUIRER,FEBRUARY 3, 2003)

PRO DEATH PENALTY AND PROUD OF IT !!!

JE MAINTIENDRAI (MOTTO OF WILLIAM I THE SILENT, PRINCE OF ORANGE, 1533 - 1584, MOTTO OF THE NETHERLANDS)

DEO JUVANTE (MOTTO OF THE PRINCIPALITY OF MONACO)

PROUD TO BE BELGIAN !!! I LOVE MY KINGDOM !!!

JTiscool

Figures. Since he's leaving office he's going to be a little b*tch and try to abolish the death penalty. He's taking out his anger on the victims' families all because he will have to leave office  >:(
My reason for supporting the death penalty? A murderer has less of a right to live than his victim and already presents a danger while incarcerated for life. They have nothing to lose when the most they can get is Life in prison without parole.

AnneTheBelgian

http://www.ydr.com/crime/ci_17097095?source=most_viewed

Gov. Rendell signs death warrant in 1998 York murder

Daily Record/Sunday News

Updated: 01/14/2011 12:26:59 PM EST

York, PA - Gov. Ed Rendell today signed execution warrants for the following six individuals, according to a news release:

--- Milton Montalvo, of York, for two counts of first-degree murder. Montalvo, 48, stabbed his estranged common-law wife, Miriam Ascencio, and her friend, Nelson Lugo, to death in April 1998 in York. He was convicted in January 2000. Montalvo is an inmate at State Correctional Institution Greene. His execution date is scheduled for Feb. 23.

--- Lavar Brown, of Philadelphia County, who was convicted of first-degree murder in May 2005. Brown, 33, shot and killed Robert Crawford in December 2003. He is incarcerated at the SCI at Graterford. His execution date is scheduled for March 2.

--- William H. Housman, 35, for strangling and killing Leslie White in September 2000. Housman, of Cumberland County, was convicted in November 2001. He is a prisoner at SCI Greene and is scheduled to be executed Feb. 24.

--- Kareem Johnson, 26, of Philadelphia County. Johnson was convicted of first-degree murder in June 2007, for the shooting death of Walter Smith in December 2002. Johnson is held at SCI Graterford. His execution date is scheduled for March 8.

--- Christopher Smith, 29, of Philadelphia County, for the December 2002, shooting death of Rasheed Grant. He was convicted in May 2005. Smith's execution is scheduled for March 3. He is a prisoner at SCI Greene.

--- Ernest R. Wholaver Jr., 50, for killing his wife and two daughters on Dec. 24, 2002. Wholaver, of Dauphin County, was convicted on three counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to die in August 2004. He is a prisoner at SCI Greene. His execution date is scheduled for March 1.

With the warrants signed today, Rendell has now signed 119 execution warrants during his two terms of office.

No executions were carried out during his time as governor, and today Rendell urged the state Legislature to review the effectiveness of the state's death penalty.












Anne
"DEATH PENALTY OPPONENTS WHO TWIST THE TRUTH TO PROTECT KILLERS ARE ALSO TORTURING VICTIMS FAMILIES" (PETER BRONSON, CINCINNATI ENQUIRER,FEBRUARY 3, 2003)

PRO DEATH PENALTY AND PROUD OF IT !!!

JE MAINTIENDRAI (MOTTO OF WILLIAM I THE SILENT, PRINCE OF ORANGE, 1533 - 1584, MOTTO OF THE NETHERLANDS)

DEO JUVANTE (MOTTO OF THE PRINCIPALITY OF MONACO)

PROUD TO BE BELGIAN !!! I LOVE MY KINGDOM !!!

Naviator

Doesnt seem like he is against executions, just frustration over being hamstrung by the system... He did sign 119 execution warrants... Maybe one day Penn will sort itself out, but I doubt it..

AnneTheBelgian

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/breaking-news/index.ssf/2011/02/pennsylvania_gov_tom_corbett_s.html

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett signs his first two death warrants

Published: Wednesday, February 09, 2011, 9:30 AM     

Updated: Wednesday, February 09, 2011, 9:38 AM

Tom Corbett has signed his first execution warrants as Pennsylvania's governor.

Corbett's office said today that he signed warrants for convicted murderers Dennis C. Reed, of Lawrence County, and Aquil Bond, of Philadelphia.

Reed, 39, who is in the state prison in Greene, was convicted in February 2008 in the fatal shooting of Wendy Miller in December 2001. His execution is set for April 5.

Bond, 32, who is in Graterford state prison, was convicted in May 2005 in the shooting death of Rasheed Grant in December 2002. He is scheduled to be executed on April 7.

Only three people have been executed in Pennsylvania since the death penalty was revived in the mid-1970s.












Anne
"DEATH PENALTY OPPONENTS WHO TWIST THE TRUTH TO PROTECT KILLERS ARE ALSO TORTURING VICTIMS FAMILIES" (PETER BRONSON, CINCINNATI ENQUIRER,FEBRUARY 3, 2003)

PRO DEATH PENALTY AND PROUD OF IT !!!

JE MAINTIENDRAI (MOTTO OF WILLIAM I THE SILENT, PRINCE OF ORANGE, 1533 - 1584, MOTTO OF THE NETHERLANDS)

DEO JUVANTE (MOTTO OF THE PRINCIPALITY OF MONACO)

PROUD TO BE BELGIAN !!! I LOVE MY KINGDOM !!!

AnneTheBelgian

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/pennsylvania/119383989.html

Apr 7, 5:18 PM

Pennsylvania

Posted on Thu, Apr. 7, 2011

Petition critical of low pay for court-appointed death-penalty lawyers

By Joseph A. Slobodzian

Inquirer Staff Writer

The amount of public funding paid to Philadelphia court-appointed criminal-defense lawyers is so low that it violates the constitutional rights of indigent people facing the death penalty.

So argues a petition filed Wednesday by a group of Philadelphia court-appointed death-penalty lawyers who told a city judge that the commonwealth should pay them adequately or stop seeking capital punishment.

"It amounts to a presumption of ineffectiveness," lawyer Marc Bookman told Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner, citing the U.S. Constitution's Sixth Amendment provision guaranteeing a criminal defendant the right to legal counsel.

Bookman, a former city public defender who specialized in death-penalty cases, last year opened a nonprofit consulting group, Atlantic Center for Capital Representation.

He filed the petition with Lerner - who handles pretrial motions for all city murder cases - with the consent of four court-appointed lawyers whose death-penalty cases were before Lerner on Wednesday, including that of Antonio Rodriguez, the alleged Kensington strangler.

According to documents Bookman filed with the motion, Philadelphia "pays its court-appointed attorneys less to prepare a capital case than any remotely comparable jurisdiction in the country."

Research filed with the petition indicates that Philadelphia death-penalty defense lawyers get a flat fee of $1,333 to prepare a murder case if it is resolved before trial and $2,000 if the case goes to trial, with a flat $1,700 prep fee for a second lawyer who acts as "mitigation counsel."

If the case goes to trial, after the first day the lawyer gets $200 per trial day under three hours and $400 per day for any time over three hours.

Michael Medway, a defense lawyer who joined the petition, cited a case that took hundreds of hours of preparation time, persuaded the prosecutor to drop the death penalty, and ended three years later in an acquittal after a five-day trial.

Medway's bill to the court: $4,200.

Legal experts say experienced, privately hired Philadelphia criminal lawyers charge $35,000 to $50,000 to handle a capital case.

The gap between the fee schedule and reality has led some Philadelphia criminal-defense lawyers to refuse to accept capital-case appointments.

"I do this as my vocation," added Michael Farrell, a death-penalty defense lawyer who lent his name and support to the Bookman petition. "But they're asking you to get paid $10 an hour."

Even within Pennsylvania, the petition continues, the flat-fee system in Philadelphia makes it the lowest-paying county for capital cases.

The petition cites hourly rates of $50 in Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh; $60 in Greene County; $125 in Lycoming County; and $75 in neighboring Montgomery County.

In the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the federal courts for the nine counties of Southeastern Pennsylvania, court-appointed lawyers in death-penalty cases get $178 an hour and other criminal-case appointments $125 an hour.

Bookman's petition cited a 1994 U.S. Supreme Court decision critical of fees paid to court-appointed capital lawyers in Louisiana, Kentucky, and Alabama.

"Each of the states named . . . 17 years ago now compensates its capital-trial lawyers far more than Philadelphia," the petition reads.

At the same time, the motion maintains, the city District Attorney's Office seeks the death penalty more than any jurisdiction in the country and has the highest reversal rate for death-penalty cases challenged because the defense attorney was ineffective.

"Ineffectiveness of counsel," based on the Sixth Amendment, is commonly argued on appeal by people convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced by the jury to death by injection.

The petition concludes: "These facts are inextricably linked and result in the following scenario: The commonwealth routinely and casually seeks the death penalty, pays virtually nothing for the representation of the accused, then suffers the consequences through reversal after reversal."

Officials from the District Attorney's Office who administer the homicide division were not in the courtroom when the motion was filed.

"We are reviewing the petition and determining what course of action to take," said Tasha Jamerson, spokeswoman for District Attorney Seth Williams.

Lerner, a veteran homicide judge, who also once led the city's public defenders office, seemed taken aback by the filing.

Lerner said he did not know if he, as homicide motions judge, had the authority to consider the petition, or whether it must be assigned to another judge, or even a panel of judges.

He also said he wanted to make clear that the petition's filing would not become a reason to delay capital cases already on the way to trial.

Lerner set a hearing for April 27 for any parties affected by the petition to respond and argue about how to proceed.

Although the petition cites "the commonwealth" as the entity responsible for funding court-appointed criminal-defense lawyers, reality is more complex.

The Philadelphia court system - formally the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania - sets the fees paid to court-appointed defense lawyers, but gets its budget through the city and state, which are in the midst of budget crises.

The decision about whether to seek the death-penalty rests with the county District Attorney's Office.

And, Lerner noted, the state attorney general could also have an interest in the litigation.

"I really don't want to play Whac-a-Mole, Your Honor," said Bookman after Lerner reviewed the fragmented court structure.

Spokespeople for Gov. Corbett and acting Attorney General William H. Ryan Jr. had no immediate comment on the petition.

Judge Pamela Pryor Dembe, president of the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, said she could pay court-appointed counsel only what the city had provided.

Recently, she said, city funding was not enough to cover court appointments under the current fee schedule.

Nevertheless, Dembe said, a lawyer elects to obtain advanced certified training to handle death-penalty cases; not every lawyer does so.

"I'm sympathetic to the contention of counsel that rates should be higher, but there is a sufficient pool of adequately trained lawyers in the mix," Dembe said.














Anne
"DEATH PENALTY OPPONENTS WHO TWIST THE TRUTH TO PROTECT KILLERS ARE ALSO TORTURING VICTIMS FAMILIES" (PETER BRONSON, CINCINNATI ENQUIRER,FEBRUARY 3, 2003)

PRO DEATH PENALTY AND PROUD OF IT !!!

JE MAINTIENDRAI (MOTTO OF WILLIAM I THE SILENT, PRINCE OF ORANGE, 1533 - 1584, MOTTO OF THE NETHERLANDS)

DEO JUVANTE (MOTTO OF THE PRINCIPALITY OF MONACO)

PROUD TO BE BELGIAN !!! I LOVE MY KINGDOM !!!

AnneTheBelgian

http://www.phillyburbs.com/news/local/the_intelligencer_news/report-juries-rarely-opt-for-death-penalty/article_e3044024-1dd6-5e49-950c-c24a10538878.html

Report: Juries rarely opt for death penalty

Posted: Monday, May 16, 2011 12:00 am

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Pennsylvania juries have opted for the death penalty in only 3 percent of first-degree murder cases in the past few years, according to an analysis by The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The paper cited an analysis of almost 2,000 Pennsylvania homicide cases between Jan. 1, 2007 and Feb. 3.

One-third of all first-degree murder cases ended with a sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole, and the remainder with guilty verdicts on lesser degrees of homicide, guilty pleas, acquittals or dismissal of charges.

Only eight people have been sentenced to death by Pennsylvania juries since 2007, and it is more likely they will die of old age than lethal injection.

Just three people have been executed since Pennsylvania reinstituted capital punishment in 1978, and all had dropped their appeals. The 211 men and four women awaiting execution - the nation's fourth-largest death row - spend 23 hours a day in solitary confinement in special units at four state prisons.

Despite the controversy over the death penalty, figures on the subject are hard to come by. Prosecutors must file a court notice when they intend to seek the death penalty, but the court system does not keep statistics on when the 67 county prosecutors do so, and neither do prosecutors.

"We've been looking for that kind of information for years," said Robert B. Dunham, an assistant federal defender in Harrisburg who has long handled appeals of indigent people facing execution.

The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts supplied the paper with a computer spreadsheet of all cases from Jan. 1, 2007 - when the Supreme Court implemented uniform reporting rules for all counties - through Feb. 3, 2011. The 362 pages of data list 1,975 cases originating in 56 Pennsylvania counties where a person was accused of causing the death of another.

From this list, 639 cases from 41 counties were culled because first-degree murder - a premeditated, malicious killing - was charged, the only crime for which death may be the punishment. Among first-degree murder cases, 231 ended in a guilty verdict and a life sentence. In only eight cases did the jury opt for death by lethal injection, the paper said.

In Pennsylvania, any death sentence is automatically appealed to the state Supreme Court. Then there is a secondary state appeal, known as a Post-Conviction Relief Act, which may challenge the effectiveness of the defense lawyer and the quality of the defense case. A final federal appeal, known as habeas corpus, raises purported violations of basic constitutional rights during the process. Appeals, however, move slowly, and legal disputes between lawyers, questions from judge and changes in law can slow the process further.

Many criticize the long appeals process, but defense attorneys say it often uncovers fundamental problems or unfairness during the trial.

Dunham said 124 of the 222 death sentences reversed since 1978 were for ineffective defense attorneys. Many of those cases are reappearing in county courtrooms for new trials or sentencing hearings, often resulting in a guilty plea to a lesser grade of homicide.

The Death Penalty Information Center in Washington estimates a death sentence costs up to three times as much as imprisoning an inmate for life at high security. But like most things involving the death penalty in Pennsylvania, hard figures about the cost of prosecuting, defending, and appealing death penalty cases is not collected.















Anne
"DEATH PENALTY OPPONENTS WHO TWIST THE TRUTH TO PROTECT KILLERS ARE ALSO TORTURING VICTIMS FAMILIES" (PETER BRONSON, CINCINNATI ENQUIRER,FEBRUARY 3, 2003)

PRO DEATH PENALTY AND PROUD OF IT !!!

JE MAINTIENDRAI (MOTTO OF WILLIAM I THE SILENT, PRINCE OF ORANGE, 1533 - 1584, MOTTO OF THE NETHERLANDS)

DEO JUVANTE (MOTTO OF THE PRINCIPALITY OF MONACO)

PROUD TO BE BELGIAN !!! I LOVE MY KINGDOM !!!

phlebbb

#25
May 17, 2011, 12:29:22 AM Last Edit: September 29, 2011, 10:23:51 PM by phlebbb
Forgive me for not getting excited about the death penalty in Pa., but, until they actually begin to execute these mutts, and, not the "volunteers", I really have a hard time believing anything is going to change there. Would be nice,but,  I will not hold my breath...   8) 8) 8) 8) 8)
People that think they know it all, annoy the hell out us who actually do ...

AnneTheBelgian

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/breaking/20110928_Pa__high_court_orders_hearings_on_death_penalty_counsel_pay.html

Posted on Wed, Sep. 28, 2011

Pa. high court orders hearings on death penalty counsel pay

By Joseph A. Slobodzian

INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

Pennsylvania's Supreme Court today ordered a Philadelphia judge to do fact-finding on a death penalty defense group's claim that Philadelphia's pay-rate for lawyers appointed to represent the poor in capital cases is so low it violates the client's constitutional right to an effective defense.

The joint order by the state's high court appointed Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner to conduct the inquest into complaints in a suit filed by the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation, a Center City nonprofit.

The order says Lerner should conduct hearings within 90 days on the validity of the lawsuit's claims. The court then gave Lerner an additional 60 days to recommend remedies, including whether they should be system-wide, or on a case-by-case basis.

Center officials were not immediately available for comment.

The center filed the petition with the Supreme Court after twice being rebuffed on technical grounds by Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Administrative Judge D. Webster Keogh.

According to data included in Bookman's original petition, Philadelphia County pays court-appointed death penalty lawyers less than "any remotely comparable jurisdiction in the country."

Even in Pennsylvania, the petition reads, Philadelphia's flat-fee system in death penalty cases is the lowest of 67 counties.

In Philadelphia a lawyer who accepts a death-penalty case that goes to trial gets $2,000 for trial preparation.

After the first day of trial, the court-appointed lawyer gets a daily fee of $200 for less than three hours and $400 a day over three hours.

In other counties, lawyers who accept death penalty appointments are reimbursed at an hourly rate ranging from $50 in Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is, to $125 in Lycoming County.

Capital cases are among the most time-consuming and complex, commonly taking two years to come to trial and running three weeks or more from jury selection to verdict.

Since its original filing, Bookman's petition has gathered support from groups including the local chapter of the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the dean of Temple University's law school and several national civil rights groups.
















Anne
"DEATH PENALTY OPPONENTS WHO TWIST THE TRUTH TO PROTECT KILLERS ARE ALSO TORTURING VICTIMS FAMILIES" (PETER BRONSON, CINCINNATI ENQUIRER,FEBRUARY 3, 2003)

PRO DEATH PENALTY AND PROUD OF IT !!!

JE MAINTIENDRAI (MOTTO OF WILLIAM I THE SILENT, PRINCE OF ORANGE, 1533 - 1584, MOTTO OF THE NETHERLANDS)

DEO JUVANTE (MOTTO OF THE PRINCIPALITY OF MONACO)

PROUD TO BE BELGIAN !!! I LOVE MY KINGDOM !!!

AnneTheBelgian

http://www.examiner.com/cultural-events-in-philadelphia/pennsylvania-may-decide-to-study-death-penalty

Pennsylvania May Decide to Study Death Penalty

Aja Beech, Philadelphia Cultural Events Examiner

December 5, 2011

omorrow, Tuesday December 5, the judiciary committee will be voting on SR6, a resolution to study the death penalty in Pennsylvania as a way to conclusively determine its effectiveness, introduced by the chair of that committee, Senator Stewart Greenleaf.

The resolution calls for a bipartisan task force to be formed of four Senators and an advisory committee of 30 people in varying fields that would be involved in capital punishment, from law enforcement to non-profit organizations. The resolution itself lists some interesting information about the death penalty in Pennsylvania.

Amongst the most thought provoking were mentions of the American Bar Associations identification of 'several areas' where Pennsylvania's system for determination of capital punishment. While the ABA 'neither supports nor opposes the death penalty', they have urged Pennsylvania to temporarily halt executions until the process can be 'made fair an accurate'.

With the recent moratorium placed on the death penalty in Oregon by Governor John Fitzhaber, after inmate Gary Haugen volunteered to forego any further appeals and even went so far as to tell The Statesman's Journal that he planned to challenge the temporary reprieve. Haugen states his reasoning for this action in the interview, the same reasoning as during his refusal of further appeals, calling the floundering on whether or not to execute him (he's prepared for his execution twice now) "cruel and unusual punishment."

Pennsylvania's death row has a similar situation, also mentioned in the resolution, where three death sentences have been carried out since its reinstatement in 1978 but there have been 352 people sentenced to death in the state in that time. Not mentioned in the resolution, 6 people have been exonerated from death row, twice as many as have been executed, in PA during the same time period.




























Anne
"DEATH PENALTY OPPONENTS WHO TWIST THE TRUTH TO PROTECT KILLERS ARE ALSO TORTURING VICTIMS FAMILIES" (PETER BRONSON, CINCINNATI ENQUIRER,FEBRUARY 3, 2003)

PRO DEATH PENALTY AND PROUD OF IT !!!

JE MAINTIENDRAI (MOTTO OF WILLIAM I THE SILENT, PRINCE OF ORANGE, 1533 - 1584, MOTTO OF THE NETHERLANDS)

DEO JUVANTE (MOTTO OF THE PRINCIPALITY OF MONACO)

PROUD TO BE BELGIAN !!! I LOVE MY KINGDOM !!!

Angelstorms OL'Man

Towanda, PA -- The execution for the Pennsylvania man convicted of killing two Bradford County sheriff deputies has been postponed indefinitely.

34 year old Dustin Briggs was scheduled to be executed on March 8th.

Officials from the Office of Governor Tom Corbett say earlier this week his execution was postponed.

Briggs shot and killed Bradford County Sheriff's Deputies Christopher Burgert of Sayre and Michael Vankuren of Warren Center in March of 2004.

The two deputies were serving Briggs with a warrant on his father's property in Wells Township, when Briggs shot them.
This was designed to hurt....Its a SEAL Candace unless you have been there yo will never understand...

JeffB

Towanda, PA -- The execution for the Pennsylvania man convicted of killing two Bradford County sheriff deputies has been postponed indefinitely.



Mmmmm...  What a surprise....   ::) ::)
"SO SUCK IT YOU "BLUE COOLER" DOPE!"  -  Sylar24

Go Up