Sunday, August 29, 2010

Can't Kill Him Yet - The Update

As I promised here, I'm posting an update based on Judge Frost's opinion granting in part and denying in part the state's motion to dismiss Romell Broom's lawsuit regarding last September's failed attempt to kill him.
The opinion is, frankly, suitable only for the nerdiest of lawyers.  It is, like the various claims, arguments, and relevant prior cases, convoluted.  
So let's cut to the chase.
Broom argued that Ohio may not make a second attempt to murder him.  It would be cruel and unusual punishment, it would violate the protection of the Double Jeopardy Clause.  It would be unconstitutional.  Maybe, maybe not.  But Broom makes the point in a civil rights action and federal law says he can't do it that way.  If granting Broom what he asks for would mean the state could not kill him, he has to ask it in a request for a writ of habeas corpus.  So Judge Frost dismissed every claim that Ohio cannot kill him.  Those claims, the judge said, must all be raised by writ of habeas corpus.
Broom also argued that Ohio's execution methodology was unconstitutional.  He offered a number of reasons.  Judge Frost rejected all of those arguments a couple of weeks ago in the broader case raising general challenges to Ohio's execution protocols.  He rejected them again.
Finally, Broom argued that he has a right to counsel and to access to the courts at his execution.  That means his lawyer should be there with some method for confidential communication with him and telephone access to the governor and the courts.  Those claims, can go forward, as can an equal protection claim that, the judge says, should probably be dismissed except that the state didn't ask.
So, some claims just dumped.  Some dismissed so that they can be refiled in habeas.  Some to go forward.
All of which, as I said earlier, begs the question:
Why are we so intent on killing this man?  He was convicted of a horrible crime.  Sure enough.  And then what happened?
In October 1985, he was sentenced to die.  It's been almost 25 years.  Still, we insist he must die.  We tried, last year, to kill him.  For two hours.  He helped (though it didn't work).  He moaned and cried out in pain.  Governor Ted gave him a reprieve - for a week.  He's still with us.  Still he must die.
But for godssake, why?
It won't bring back Tryna Middleton.  She'll still be dead.  She'll still be mourned.  Nothing there.
Her mother did tell the Parole Board, that she would feel as if Broom won if we don't kill him.  But won what?  What's the contest?  And the prize? 
Death in prison.  Slowly.  Over more years.  With no hope.
Are those the spoils?
Would Tryna's mother want to have them?
Here's what I know.  For 25 years Romell Broom has been on death row.  And as I wrote earlier, the sky hasn't fallen.  The Republic is not doomed.  Ohio was in economic turmoil and still is.  Nothing much has changed except that we're all older.
But we don't seem to have grown wiser.  Or more compassionate.
So we still think Romell Broom needs to be killed.
And I still don't know why.

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