Nebraska Death Penalty News

Started by Jeff1857, March 14, 2008, 12:03:42 AM

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Moh

Is there the risk that this is an ex post facto law since the original punishment set by law was the chair?

Rick4404


Is there the risk that this is an ex post facto law since the original punishment set by law was the chair?

I was wondering about that myself. However, other states made the switch from one means of execution to the other and did not face any ex post facto claims.

More on the Nebraska bill:

Unfortunately, this thing's not a done deal yet. Here's how the process goes in Nebraska:

The Judiciary Committee's vote places the bill onto the calendar for what is called General File debate. On General File, this is the full legislative body's first opportunity to debate and vote on a bill. Amendments may also be considered and adopted. A simple majority of the 49 senators (25 senators) must vote to send the bill on to the next step which is Enrollment and Review Initial. At this point, the bill is reviewed by legislative staff in the statutory revisor's office, and any amendments that were approved are inserted into the bill.

Once the Enrollment and Review Initial process is complete, the bill is sent back to the floor for the second round of debate called Select File. On Select File, the full legislative body debates the bill and more amendments may be offered. Again a simple majority vote of 25 of the 49 senators is required to send the bill on to another Enrollment and Review stage called Enrollment and Review Final. The bill is retyped into final form with all the amendments engrossed into the bill.

The bill is then sent back to the floor for Final Reading. On Final Reading, no amendments may be offered. The bill is debated one last time and a vote on final passage is finally taken. Again a simple majority 25 votes of the 49 senators is required to pass the bill and send it on to the governor for his signature.

Rick4404

It's anybody's guess at this point, but this is the farthest that a bill has come on this subject in the Nebraska Legislature.

When Ernie Chambers was in the Legislature (former state Senator Ernie Chambers); he was an ardent death penalty foe and was largely responsible for bottling up every bill on the death penalty that the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature had under consideration.

Nebraska has been considering making the change from electrocution to lethal injection for a number of years. Legislation to make the change has been introduced numerous times in the past, and Chambers would always use nearly every parliamentary maneuver, every low down but legal dirty trick, to keep those bills from advancing.

Now that Nebraska is faced with the fact that it has a death penalty on the books, but no legal means of carrying out an execution; now with Chambers gone thanks to term limits, the Legislature appears to be nearing the end of the tunnel in the process of finally getting another means of execution approved.

The fact that Speaker Mike Flood has placed this bill on his list of priority bills, means that he can move the bill to the front of the line for debate. The speaker sets the daily agenda of the legislative body.

I'm thinking that the bill will eventually make it through all of the steps of the process and reach the governor for his signature.

Moh

However, I think that other states which have switched have left the old method as an option for inmates sentenced before the effective change in execution method. They've done so precisely in order to avoid ex post facto claims. I suppose the question might be is an inmate sentenced to death period? Or is he/she sentenced to death by a particular method?

Rick4404

The Speaker of the Legislature, Senator Mike Flood, says most likely the bill will come up for debate in May. Nebraska's Legislature must adjourn for the year by June 4th, in that it will be up against its constitutionally-mandated adjournment date. Nebraska's unicameral legislative body meets in regular session annually and is limited by the state constitution to meet for no more than 90 legislative days during odd-numbered years and for no more than 60 legislative days during even-numbered years.

Moh

Rick, have you got an answer to my question?

Rick4404

#36
April 21, 2009, 01:27:44 AM Last Edit: May 05, 2009, 02:40:24 AM by Rick4404

However, I think that other states which have switched have left the old method as an option for inmates sentenced before the effective change in execution method. They've done so precisely in order to avoid ex post facto claims. I suppose the question might be is an inmate sentenced to death period? Or is he/she sentenced to death by a particular method?

Sorry about that. I wasn't ignoring you.

You have to understand that I'm not a lawyer, nor am I any kind of a legal expert. Therefore what I'm saying here is strictly a "layman's" opinion. It should not be taken as any kind of legal guidance whatsoever.

I think it would depend upon what the law and the Rules of Criminal Procedure are in Nebraska. It seems to me that if none of the current inmates on death row were sentenced to die by a specific means - death by electrocution - and merely sentenced to die "in the manner prescribed by law" then there should be no issues.

Besides, it would be a relatively minor fix. In Nebraska, the law requires that a defendant can only be sentenced to death by a panel of three district judges. Even if a panel of judges did sentence someone to die specifically by electrocution, it seems to me that the judges who sentenced the defendant would have to hold a brief hearing to resentence a defendant to remove any reference to death by electrocution.

I'm not even sure if judges are required in Nebraska are required to specify the mode of death to be used or not. I would believe it's pretty much assumed what the means of execution is.

Besides, under Nebraska law, it is the state Supreme Court which actually issues a death warrant and sets a prisoner's execution date. The trial court does not issue a death warrant. A trial judge merely sentences an inmate to death. The execution date is set later by order of the state supreme court.

Ex post facto would come into play, again strictly as an uneducated guess, if an inmate were sentenced to die in the electric chair and that mode of death was specified in writing in the judgment.

It would seem that most judges play it safe by writing something to the effect ... "It is therefore the sentence and order of this court that you be remanded to the custody of the sheriff's department, which shall cause to have you delivered to the custody of the Department of Correctional Services. You will remain in the custody of the Department of Correctional Services within a penal institution as designated by the department until such time as you are put to death in accordance with the laws of the State of Nebraska. Whereupon a date and time to be set by the Supreme Court of the State of Nebraska, you will be executed in the manner prescribed by law. May God have mercy on your soul."

Moh

Thanks very much for your informative answer.

Rick4404

Unfortunately, no new news to report. If I understand the process in Nebraska, now that the Judiciary Committee has advanced the bill for the first round of debate, Speaker Mike Flood was quoted that should happen sometime in May. For a single-house legislative body, a bill receives at least two separate rounds of debate, possible amendments and votes before final reading takes place and the final vote taken. Nebraska lawmakers must adjourn for the year by June 4th, when they will be up against their constitutionally-mandated adjournment. Regular sessions of the unicameral legislature can be no longer than 90 days during the odd-numbered years and no longer than 60 days in the even-numbered years. Time's running out, so I'm hopeful this will get through all the required hoops and get signed into law by the governor this year.

Rick4404

#39
May 15, 2009, 03:10:08 AM Last Edit: May 15, 2009, 04:30:08 PM by Rick4404
Nebraska lawmakers must adjourn for the year by June 4th, when they will be up against their constitutionally-mandated deadline for adjournment sine die. The next regular session would then take up in January of 2010. A number of bills that were introduced this session could be carried over for next year, but that list won't be available until this session bangs the gavel for the final time.
Posted on: May 11, 2009, 01:42:48 PM



THIS JUST IN:

The bill will be up for its first round of debate on Monday afternoon (May 18th) before the full legislative body. The bill should be taken up around 1:30 p.m. (Central Time). Here is a link to the Nebraska Legislature's webcast feed in case you'd like to tune in on the proceedings:

http://www.netnebraska.org/publicmedia/capitol.html

Be sure to click on the link to "Main Legislative Chamber"

1:30 P.M. -- GENERAL FILE: 2009 SENATOR PRIORITY BILL
LB 36 (Flood) Change method and procedure for inflicting the death penalty



Jeff1857

Death-penalty litigation costs elude senators----The Attorney General's Office declines to provide an estimate as the Legislature prepares to debate lethal injection.


The Nebraska Attorney General's Office, in a letter released Wednesday, declined to estimate the cost of litigating death-penalty cases, saying the office has never tracked such expenditures.

The letter comes as the Legislature prepares to debate a bill Monday that would switch the method of execution in the state from electrocution to lethal injection.

2 opponents of capital punishment, State Sens. Danielle Nantkes of Lincoln and Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha, had asked for estimated costs incurred by the Attorney General's Office in handling death-penalty cases since 1973. The 2 sit on the budget-writing Appropriations Committee.

The Attorney General's Office indicated earlier this year that repealing the death penalty wouldn't result in any cost savings. Nantkes said she could not believe that, because other states have estimated that a death-penalty case costs up to $2 million more than one involving a life sentence.

Nantkes said the attorney general's response was incomplete, and, at best, grossly underestimated the total cost of handling death-penalty cases. She said she also thought the letter underestimated the time it would take to handle new court appeals if the lethal injection bill passes.

The letter, signed by Chief Deputy Attorney General David Cookson, said there wasn't time to examine all financial records for the request, which was made 2 weeks ago.

He stated that it could take up to a year to litigate challenges to a new lethal injection law and that costs of doing that would not be "extraordinary.''

The letter stated that death-penalty cases between 2003 and 2007 represented less than 1 percent of the office's caseload. During that period, attorneys in the office devoted between five and 87 days per year to capital cases, the letter stated.

Nantkes said an experienced attorney could cost around $200 an hour, which would put those annual costs at between $8,000 and $139,000 a year. Those costs don't include the added expenses of defense attorneys, expert and citizen witnesses and travel expenses, she said.

The Madison County clerk stated recently that the county had spent nearly $1.1 million so far on 3 death-penalty cases involving gunmen convicted in the 2002 murders of 5 people inside a Norfolk, Neb., bank.

Nantkes said she plans to ask for an interim hearing to get more precise cost information.

She said the attorney general's letter indicated the office hadn't been "totally upfront'' when it told the Legislature's Fiscal Office earlier this year that passage of the lethal injection bill would have no fiscal impact or that repealing capital punishment would not result in any cost savings.

(source: Lexington Clipper Herald)


Jeff1857

AG's office offers timetable for 1st lethal injection execution


An execution likely will not take place for at least a year after the Nebraska Legislature passes a lethal injection law, according to a letter from Attorney General Jon Bruning's office to state senators.

But Lincoln Sen. Danielle Nantkes believes the appeal process on an expected new state law may take much longer.

The state likely would seek an execution date for Raymond Mata Jr. immediately after the state Department of Correctional Services writes execution protocol for a new lethal injection law, according to the letter from Chief Deputy Attorney General David Cookson. Mata, 36, was convicted of the 1999 murder of a Scottsbluff toddler.

Debate on a bill (LB36) to make lethal injection the state's method of execution begins Monday afternoon. The measure is expected to pass this spring and become law soon after.

Nebraska has had no way to carry out a death sentence since the state Supreme Court declared the electric chair unconstitutional in February 2008.

Setting an execution date quickly would mean litigation testing the constitutionality of the new method of execution would go before the Supreme Court quickly, according to Cookson's letter.

In it, he estimates that litigation of state and federal constitutional issues regarding a new method of execution -- particularly if it is lethal injection -- could be completed within 12 months or less following creation of an execution protocol.

The attorney general's office expects the case to be resolved by the Nebraska Supreme Court, since the U.S. Supreme Court already has held that lethal injection does not violate the federal constitution.

But Nantkes said litigation that could include an appeal to the U.S Supreme Court likely will take longer than a year. Questions likely to be raised include challenges to the corrections department's protocol and what happens to people sentenced under the previous law, she said Thursday.

The 1-year estimate offers false hope, she said.

The attorney general's office was unable to provide senators with specific costs of switching to lethal injection as an execution method. The office has never tracked expenditures on a case-by-case basis, Cookson wrote in his letter, which was a response to questions from Nantkes and Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha.

Capital cases routinely represent less than 1 % of the criminal appellate caseload, the letter said.

Nantkes said she hopes to have an interim study this summer or fall to get a better idea of the costs.

(source: Lincoln Journal Star)


Moh

I wish that Sen. Nantkes would just be honest and says that she's four-square against the death penalty instead of creating this phony issue of cost when Nebraska has less than ten guys on death row.

Rick4404

#43
May 16, 2009, 03:05:21 PM Last Edit: May 16, 2009, 03:11:48 PM by Rick4404

I wish that Sen. Nantkes would just be honest and says that she's four-square against the death penalty instead of creating this phony issue of cost when Nebraska has less than ten guys on death row.

Nebraska has ten men awaiting execution. Death row for male inmates is located at Tecumseh, Neb. in the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution. Death row for female inmates is located at York, Neb. in the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women. There are presently no women under a sentence of death in Nebraska.

Despite the Nebraska Supreme Court's ruling that outlawed the use of the electric chair as an unconstitutional violation of the state constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishments, prosecutors have still been able to seek death sentences in murder cases where appropriate. Death row inmate number 10 joined the nine others awaiting execution at Tecumseh, Neb. last year.

The state's current protocol sets a timeline from when an inmate would be transfered from death row and brought to the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln, Neb. where the state's only execution chamber is located. When the Department of Correctional Services receives an inmate's death warrant, the inmate would be brought to the state penitentiary and put on death watch approximately seven days before the scheduled execution date. The inmate would be placed in a holding cell in the prison infirmary just upstairs from the execution chamber.

 

Michael

AG's office: Executions at least a year away

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- If lethal injection becomes the new method to execute Nebraska's condemned killers, it could take a year or more for it to be put to use.

That's according to a letter from Attorney General Jon Bruning's office to state lawmakers.

rest http://www.siouxcityjournal.com/articles/2009/05/17/news/nebraska/18ca5e188fea0d7c862575b9000a5bb8.txt
I´m not sure if there´s a hell, but I believe in executed murderers.

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