Friday, May 27, 2016

Loretta Lynch v. Connecticut

This week the Attorney General finally made up her mind.
Following the department’s rigorous review process to thoroughly consider all relevant factual and legal issues, I have determined that the Justice Department will seek the death penalty,
That's Dylan Roof, the kid who's charged with killing 9 people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina last year.

Roof, who's already facing capital charges in South Carolina courts - trial currently set to begin in January - now risks the possibility of another death sentence.  From the feds.  Because he didn't just kill 9 people.  He did it for bad reasons.  Teach that rotten kid a lesson.

It took a year of dithering rigorous review to determine that this was an appropriate use of federal resources.  So that we can get him killed twice. Or maybe it's because the AG doesn't trust those racist hicks in South Carolina to kill a white guy who killed black folk for kicks.  So the AG needs to arrange for a back-up.  You know, just in case.


Meanwhile, in Connecticut.  
  • Where the legislature abolished the death penalty going forward but left it in place so that Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes (and incidentally the 9 other folks on death row there) could still be killed.  
  • Until State v. Santiago the Connecticut Supreme Court said that the death penalty violated the state's constitution and said that the 11 guys on death row couldn't be executed, either.
  • And then, after the personnel on the court changed, put Santiago on hold while reconsidering the matter in the case of Russell Peeler, which was not a good sign if you thought they had it right the first time.
Yesterday, the court spoke.  There are concurrences and dissents, but in its brief and unsigned opinion (footnotes omitted), the court said it would follow its precedent.
A jury found the defendant, Russell Peeler, guilty of, among other things, one count of capital felony in violation of General Statutes (Rev. to 1999) § 53a-54b (8) and one count of capital felony in violation of General Statutes (Rev. to 1999) § 53a-54b (9) in connection with the 1999 shooting deaths of a woman and her young son, and, following a capital sentencing hearing, the trial court, Devlin, J.,rendered judgment imposing two death sentences. This appeal of the defendant’s death sentences is controlled by State v. Santiago, 318 Conn. 1, 122 A.3d 1 (2015), in which a majority of this court concluded that, following the enactment of No. 12-5 of the 2012 Public Acts (P.A. 12-5), executing offenders who committed capital crimes prior to the enactment of P.A. 12-5 would offend article first, §§ 8 and 9, of the Connecticut constitution. See, e.g., Conway v. Wilton, 238 Conn. 653, 658–62, 680 A.2d 242 (1996) (explaining scope of and rationale for rule of stare decisis). Our conclusion that the defendant’s death sentences must be vacated as unconstitutional in light of Santiago renders moot the defendant’s other appellate claims. The judgment is reversed with respect to the imposition of two sentences of death and the case is remanded with direction to impose a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of release on each capital felony count; the judgment is affirmed in all other respects. 
Connecticut is known, among other things, as The Constitution State.

The Attorney General is named Lynch.

You can't make this shit up.

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