Friday, January 29, 2010

Tri-State Roundup


The Judiciary Committee of the Kansas Senate voted 7-4 to send a death penalty repeal bill to the floor for consideration by the full senate. If enacted (reports say that's unlikely), the bill would change the law effective July 1 so that what are now crimes punishable by death would, instead, be punished by life without the possibility of parole.

Of the seven who voted to send the bill to the Senate floor, five are Republicans and two are Democrats. That's the sort of alignment you won't be seeing in Washington on anything much.

According to Prime Buzz, a blog from the Kansas City Star, one of the Democrats is David Haley.
Haley, a longtime death penalty critic, noted that today is Kansas Day, the 149th anniversary of Kansas joining the union as a free state.

"I'm reminded of What Kansas is, and what we stand for," he said. "We have values in this chamber, and as a state, that I hope we live up to."

If Kansas were to repeal the law, it would join New Jersey and New Mexico in having done so legislatively. Like those states, Kansas has a comparatively small death row and hasn't actually executed anyone in decades. Still, the law is specifically written so that it would not affect the 10 men currently on death row. Can't do any favors for the capitally sentenced.


As Kansas moves, however fitfully, toward abolition, Texas buries its head deeper in the sand.

The Forensic Science Commission met today and did nothing for a number of hours except get jerked around by Governor Perry's hand-picked chair, John Bradley. The Innocence Project ran a live stream of the meeting on its web site. Alas, it seems that they haven't made it available for later replay, but Scott Henson at Grits did a great job live blogging.

As we learned the other day, the meeting was about procedure rather than substance. Bradley crafted a batch of rules for the Committee, sent them to members last night, and pretty much rammed them through over the course of several hours today. No cases got discussed - certainly not Cameron Todd Willingham's. And Bradley's "rules" seem designed to ensure that few cases will ever be examined by the Committee - which is, of course, the point.


Mark Brown's execution draws ever closer.

The Ohio Supreme Court has not decided whether to grant a stay. The Governor has not announced whether he'll give clemency (don't hold your breath on that one). Judge Frost said that Brown could join the pending lethal injection case. He didn't say whether he'd issue a stay of execution.

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