|----- Original Message -----
From: Britta Slopianka
To: Florida New ; ips ; Pam
Cc: Kati=B4s Group ; Lamp of hope ; lisbeth ; Patrick ; Wanda's Group
Sent: Saturday, August 14, 2004 9:57 AM
Subject: [patrickcrusade] Now You See It, Now You oops! by David Seth Michaels
New York State of Mind
According to the Associated Press as reported in Newsday:
The state Senate voted Wednesday to alter the sentencing
provisions of the state's death penalty law to remove procedures declared
The legislation stipulates that when a jury deadlocks
over the punishment of a defendant who has been found guilty of a capital
On June 24, the State Court of Appeals said that sentencing methods of the capital punishment statute were unconstitutional because if a jury deadlocks between execution and life without parole as the punishment, the trial judge sentences the defendant to a parole-eligible term of up to life in prison. The judges said that option might lead some undecided jurors to vote for death by lethal injection because they cannot bear the thought of a defendant someday being paroled.
The ruling effectively cleared the four inmates from death row in New York and put prosecutions seeking executions for murderers on hold.
The measure approved 37-22 by the Republican-controlled Senate Wednesday was worked out with Gov. George Pataki.
But the willingness of the Democrat-dominated state Assembly to take up the bill, or any measure that might resume death penalty prosecutions was unclear.
"This is a highly technical issue with many constitutional implications and we are looking at it," said Eileen Larrabee, a spokeswoman for the Assembly's Democratic majority leader, Sheldon Silver.
Larrabee said that while the Court of Appeals ruling was more than six weeks ago, the Assembly had not seen the Republican proposal to comply with it until Tuesday.
Pataki spokeswoman Lynn Rasic said the measure approved Wednesday by the Senate adopted the approach Assembly Democrats took in negotiations on the issue with the governor and the Senate.
"It is baffling they wouldn't pass this legislation immediately," Rasic said.
When the Legislature reinstated the death penalty in New York in 1995, Assembly Democrats voted against the bill 52-41. It passed with overwhelming support from Assembly Republicans.
Assembly Democrats could effectively keep the death penalty statute on hold by declining to take up the bill approved by the Senate Wednesday.
Democratic state Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson of Westchester County urged her colleagues to do just that Wednesday.
"We should leave the death penalty alone," she said. "It would be foolhardy to fix it. ... We should let the death penalty die."
Sen. Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat, said DNA testing
has shown that other states have frequently put innocent people on their
No one has been executed under the 1995 death penalty statute, which fulfilled Pataki's 1994 campaign promise to reinstate capital punishment in New York.
I doubt very much that this bill is constitutional.
First, if a jury is split 10-2 with 12 votes against death, 10 for life
with parole and 2
Second, I doubt that the provisions applying this bill to crimes committed before its enactment can pass ex post facto law scrutiny.
So what is it that we have here? Is this just wanton
political grandstanding in advance of the November 2004 elections?
Is this the
I perceive the Senate's actions on this legislation as
an example of exactly how I hope I would not make decisions in my own life.
If you live in NY, please contact your Assembly member--whether
Democrat or Republican, whether for or against reinstatement, whether contacted
by you before or not--urging the Assembly simply to do nothing and let
the death penalty die. Please encourage those you know to do the
same. If your Assembly member already has responded that s/he is
against reinstating the death penalty, be sure and express your thanks
and support for that position. To find the name of your Assembly
member, visit http://map01.elections.state.ny.us/boe/main.asp.
To find out how to contact him or her, visit www.vote-smart.org (this is
Whether or not you live in NY, I want to urge each of you to consider what you might be able to do to prevent repair of the death penalty in New York. It's not always obvious what to do in situations like this. Of course, it's fairly easy for NYers to contact their representatives. But for those of you outside NY, or outside the US it's just not as clear what to do. So I ask each of you to pause your busy life for just a moment or two, focus briefly on your breath, and see what thoughts arise as to what you can do to help in this circumstance. It might be that you say a prayer, or make a donation to an abolition organization, or forward this email, or call friends in NY, or talk to your family and co-workers. It might be that you offer incense or a prayer or light a candle. It might be that you write a letter to the editor. All of your actions, all of your thoughts move us toward the end of state killing.
May all beings refrain from killing and prevent others
from killing. May all beings affirm the preciousness of every life.
May all beings