Could executions resume following the resignation of Governor Kitzhaber?

Started by Rick4404, February 14, 2015, 04:33:53 PM

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Rick4404

Oregon's embattled governor, Democrat John Kitzhaber, resigned Friday amidst an ethics scandal.  His resignation is effective this coming Wednesday; when Oregon's secretary of state will automatically ascend to the governorship.  Oregon has no lieutenant governor, thus the secretary of state is next in line to become governor in the event of the latter's death, resignation or impeachment and removal from office. 

As you may recall, Kitzhaber signed an executive order, suspending all executions from taking place in Oregon until the end of his term.  With his resignation becoming effective next week, I assume that order will become null and void.  Does anyone know what Secretary of State Kate Brown's position on the death penalty is?  She will become the nation's first openly bisexual governor.

Quote
Oregon Gov. Kitzhaber announces his resignation amid scandal

By JONATHAN J. COOPER
Associated Press


SALEM, Ore. (AP) -- Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber resigned Friday, giving in to mounting pressure to abandon his office amid suspicions that his fiancee used her relationship with him to land contracts for her green-energy consulting business.

In a lengthy statement, the state's longest-serving chief executive insisted he broke no laws. He said the resignation would be effective Wednesday.

"Nonetheless, I understand that I have become a liability to the very institutions and policies to which I have dedicated my career and, indeed, my entire adult life," he said.

The decision capped a wild week in which Kitzhaber seemed poised to step down, then changed his mind, but ultimately bowed to calls from legislative leaders that he quit the state's top elected position.

The announcement is a stunning fall from grace for a politician who left the governor's office in 2003 and then mounted a comeback in 2010 and won back his old job.

Secretary of State Kate Brown, a Democrat like Kitzhaber, was expected to assume the office and become the first openly bisexual governor in the country. Unlike most states, Oregon does not have a lieutenant governor, and the state constitution puts the secretary of state next in line.

In addition to the written statement, Kitzhaber released audio of himself reading from it. At the end, his voice trembled, and he seemed to be choking back tears.

His statement was defiant, saying it was "troubling" that "so many of my former allies" had chosen to "simply accept" that he had done something wrong, referring to Democrats who had abandoned him.

"I am confident that I have not broken any laws nor taken any actions that were dishonest or dishonorable in their intent or outcome," he said.

"I have always tried to do the right thing, and now the right thing to do is to step aside," he said.

Londoner77

Hopefully she will grant Gary Haugen his wish.

If I remember rightly he appealed the moratorium and wants to drop his appeals.

On the down side, I've read somewhere that Mr liberal wants to commute all 37 death sentences in the start to LWOP.
If he does he needs locking up as that will make a total mockery of the system of justice.

ChevyWolken

Secretary of State Kate Brown, a Democrat like Kitzhaber, was expected to assume the office and become the first openly bisexual governor in the country.
Will that do any good in our view of things?  ??? Anybody should do what he or she likes, but I see the time proven values of tradition and common sense go down with every additional gay politician, same all over the western world >:(
Born in Berlin, American at heart

Angelstorms OL'Man

Well he has days to do it.. If he is going to do it.  Ill do my best  to keep you all in the loop.
This was designed to hurt....Its a SEAL Candace unless you have been there yo will never understand...

Rick4404


Hopefully she will grant Gary Haugen his wish.

If I remember rightly he appealed the moratorium and wants to drop his appeals.

On the down side, I've read somewhere that Mr liberal wants to commute all 37 death sentences in the start to LWOP.
If he does he needs locking up as that will make a total mockery of the system of justice.

Unfortunately, in Oregon, the governor has the sole authority concerning the granting of executive clemency; which includes the commuting of sentences. He leaves office on Wednesday, Feb. 18th; so hopefully that day will come and go and he's chosen not to commute the sentences.  In Oregon, no authority -- not even the courts -- can stop the governor from exercising his or her constitutional discretion as far as commutations, reprieves, pardons and so forth are concerned. 

ChevyWolken

Some laws (and their exeptions) make me scratch my head :-X 
Born in Berlin, American at heart

Rick4404

#6
February 17, 2015, 05:28:02 PM Last Edit: February 24, 2015, 03:22:58 PM by Rick4404

Some laws (and their exeptions) make me scratch my head :-X

Hopefully, Dr. Kitzhaber will remember that 37 juries in these 37 cases all found the defendants to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and found that there were aggravating circumstances in those cases to warrant a death sentence. 

I've always felt that a governor's clemency authority, although in many cases it is unilateral, that a governor must not overrule a jury's sentence without there being some sort of an extraordinary circumstance or circumstances involved which would cause the governor to act.  He or she shouldn't be allowed to simply commute a sentence just because, without first having received a proper application for clemency from an inmate's attorneys or from the inmate himself or herself.  I assume in Oregon, the governor just can't step in and commute a sentence, merely upon his or her own volition.  Doesn't there have to be some sort of a clemency review first? 

ChevyWolken

I agree absolutly, if everything else is checked a thousand times than it should be of course not only up to one persons likes (govenour personal one's) to grant clemency, but be reviewed by someone competent else  >:( 
Born in Berlin, American at heart

Londoner77

An interesting article......

Alan Sylvestre / OPB
With Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber scheduled to resign Wednesday, opponents of the death penalty have asked him to commute the sentences of death row prisoners to life without parole in a move of last-minute clemency. Here is how that could play out if Kitzhaber goes down that road.

Who is on death row in Oregon?

Thirty-one men and one woman in Oregon have been sentenced to death for convictions of aggravated murder.

The men on death row are housed in single cells in a segregated area of the maximum security Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem. 

Are there limits to the governor's power to commute sentences?

No. "The governor has absolute, unilateral authority to pardon or commute criminal sentences, not reviewable by the legislature or the courts. That's clear as a matter of Oregon Law," says Steve Kanter, a professor of Constitutional Law at Lewis and Clark.

Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis, who has prosecuted death penalty cases, says Kitzhaber has used his commutation power with restraint in the past.

"He's been very sparse about giving out commutations and clemency, and he's always given the district attorney and the victim weeks to respond," he said.

Some of the people on death row in Oregon were convicted and sentenced in the 1980s, before the Oregon Legislature established the sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

But legal experts say that the governor has the authority to commute to any lesser sentence that's constitutional, including life without parole. That authority has been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Oregon Supreme Court.   

Has any other governor commuted everyone on death row?

There is a limited precedent. In 2003, Illinois Gov. George Ryan commuted the sentences of more than 150 people on death row shortly before he left office and was convicted of corruption. In 2011, when the Illinois Legislature abolished the death penalty, Gov. Pat Quinn commuted the sentences of 15 people.

In 2014, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley commuted the sentences of four men who remained on death row after the state Legislature abolished the death penalty.

How long has Oregon had the death penalty?

Oregonians have changed their position on the death penalty several times.

At the time of statehood, Oregon had the death penalty.  In 1914, it was the first state to vote the death penalty out by popular vote. It was re-instated from 1920 until 1964. In 1964, the voters repealed it.  In 1978, voters passed a ballot initiative re-instating the death penalty, but due to legal challenges, Oregon was effectively without a death penalty until 1984. 

How many people have been executed in Oregon?

Since the death penalty returned to the state in 1978, Oregon has executed two people: Douglas Franklin Wright and Harry Charles Moore.  Both men were so-called "volunteers" who chose to drop their appeals. Wright admitted to killing three homeless men and a 10-year-old boy. Moore killed his half-sister and her ex-husband.

Both men were executed during Kitzhaber's first term as governor. In 2011, when he announced he was suspending all executions, Kitzhaber referred to his experiences with Wright and Moore.

"I do not believe that those executions made us safer; and certainly they did not make us nobler as a society," he wrote. "It is a perversion of justice that the single best indicator of who will and will not be executed has nothing to do with the circumstances of a crime or the findings of a jury. The only factor that determines whether someone sentenced to death in Oregon is actually executed is that they volunteer."

What consequences came from Kitzhaber halting executions?

At the state level, Gary Haugen, the only death row inmate not pursing an appeal, legally challenged the temporary reprieve Kitzhaber granted. The courts upheld Kitzhaber's decision to halt Haugen's execution.

Gary Haugen, Courtesy: Dept. of Corrections
Gary Haugen, Courtesy: Dept. of Corrections
After Kitzhaber's announcement, several other governors made similar decisions to suspend executions. In 2013,  Gov. John Hickelooper granted a temporary reprieve to an inmate in Colorado, and in 2014, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee suspended all executions.

Last year, in a decision examining how the death penalty is applied in Florida, the U.S. Supreme Court counted Oregon as an abolitionist state, due to Kitzhaber's moratorium and the fact that the state had executed just two people in more than 50 years. 

What options does Kate Brown have?

If Kitzhaber does not commute any death row sentences, the temporary reprieve he issued to Gary Haugen in 2011 will most likely no longer be in effect after he leaves office Wednesday; Kitzhaber said Haugen's reprieve would last "the duration of my term in office."

To execute Haugen, the state would have to seek an execution warrant from a judge, typically at least 45 days prior to the execution.

Gov. Kate Brown could chose to extend the moratorium, or could allow the execution to go forward.

However, Brown could be influenced by a Supreme Court Appeal challenging executions by lethal injection in Oklahoma. On Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called for a national moratorium on executions until the Supreme Court reaches a decision in the case.

Rick4404

#9
February 24, 2015, 03:25:35 PM Last Edit: February 24, 2015, 03:34:51 PM by Rick4404

An interesting article......

Alan Sylvestre / OPB
With Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber scheduled to resign Wednesday, opponents of the death penalty have asked him to commute the sentences of death row prisoners to life without parole in a move of last-minute clemency. Here is how that could play out if Kitzhaber goes down that road.

Who is on death row in Oregon?

Thirty-one men and one woman in Oregon have been sentenced to death for convictions of aggravated murder.

The men on death row are housed in single cells in a segregated area of the maximum security Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem. 

Are there limits to the governor's power to commute sentences?

No. "The governor has absolute, unilateral authority to pardon or commute criminal sentences, not reviewable by the legislature or the courts. That's clear as a matter of Oregon Law," says Steve Kanter, a professor of Constitutional Law at Lewis and Clark.

Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis, who has prosecuted death penalty cases, says Kitzhaber has used his commutation power with restraint in the past.

"He's been very sparse about giving out commutations and clemency, and he's always given the district attorney and the victim weeks to respond," he said.

Some of the people on death row in Oregon were convicted and sentenced in the 1980s, before the Oregon Legislature established the sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

But legal experts say that the governor has the authority to commute to any lesser sentence that's constitutional, including life without parole. That authority has been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Oregon Supreme Court.   

Has any other governor commuted everyone on death row?

There is a limited precedent. In 2003, Illinois Gov. George Ryan commuted the sentences of more than 150 people on death row shortly before he left office and was convicted of corruption. In 2011, when the Illinois Legislature abolished the death penalty, Gov. Pat Quinn commuted the sentences of 15 people.

In 2014, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley commuted the sentences of four men who remained on death row after the state Legislature abolished the death penalty.

How long has Oregon had the death penalty?

Oregonians have changed their position on the death penalty several times.

At the time of statehood, Oregon had the death penalty.  In 1914, it was the first state to vote the death penalty out by popular vote. It was re-instated from 1920 until 1964. In 1964, the voters repealed it.  In 1978, voters passed a ballot initiative re-instating the death penalty, but due to legal challenges, Oregon was effectively without a death penalty until 1984. 

How many people have been executed in Oregon?

Since the death penalty returned to the state in 1978, Oregon has executed two people: Douglas Franklin Wright and Harry Charles Moore.  Both men were so-called "volunteers" who chose to drop their appeals. Wright admitted to killing three homeless men and a 10-year-old boy. Moore killed his half-sister and her ex-husband.

Both men were executed during Kitzhaber's first term as governor. In 2011, when he announced he was suspending all executions, Kitzhaber referred to his experiences with Wright and Moore.

"I do not believe that those executions made us safer; and certainly they did not make us nobler as a society," he wrote. "It is a perversion of justice that the single best indicator of who will and will not be executed has nothing to do with the circumstances of a crime or the findings of a jury. The only factor that determines whether someone sentenced to death in Oregon is actually executed is that they volunteer."

What consequences came from Kitzhaber halting executions?

At the state level, Gary Haugen, the only death row inmate not pursing an appeal, legally challenged the temporary reprieve Kitzhaber granted. The courts upheld Kitzhaber's decision to halt Haugen's execution.

Gary Haugen, Courtesy: Dept. of Corrections
Gary Haugen, Courtesy: Dept. of Corrections
After Kitzhaber's announcement, several other governors made similar decisions to suspend executions. In 2013,  Gov. John Hickelooper granted a temporary reprieve to an inmate in Colorado, and in 2014, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee suspended all executions.

Last year, in a decision examining how the death penalty is applied in Florida, the U.S. Supreme Court counted Oregon as an abolitionist state, due to Kitzhaber's moratorium and the fact that the state had executed just two people in more than 50 years. 

What options does Kate Brown have?

If Kitzhaber does not commute any death row sentences, the temporary reprieve he issued to Gary Haugen in 2011 will most likely no longer be in effect after he leaves office Wednesday; Kitzhaber said Haugen's reprieve would last "the duration of my term in office."

To execute Haugen, the state would have to seek an execution warrant from a judge, typically at least 45 days prior to the execution.

Gov. Kate Brown could chose to extend the moratorium, or could allow the execution to go forward.

However, Brown could be influenced by a Supreme Court Appeal challenging executions by lethal injection in Oklahoma. On Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called for a national moratorium on executions until the Supreme Court reaches a decision in the case.


It appears that the governor of Oregon can act merely upon his or her own volition, without first having received a formal application for clemency from the inmate's attorneys. Now that the torch has been passed from Kitzhaber to Gov. Kate Brown, we'll have to wait and see what she chooses to do with the Gary Haugen case. 

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