Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Yipee, the Execution is Put-off Indefinitely

Yesterday I wrote about two anesthesiologists in California who refused to play a role in carrying out the death sentence of death row inmate Michael Angelo Morales, a convicted murderer.

Although Morales is one of the most unsympathetic examples to use when arguing against the death penalty, belonging to the "worst of the worst" category, like anything else, the slippery slope of capital punishment, once out of the gate, is hard to put back in the stall for the less deserving cases, as previously posted here, here and here.

I mean, why don't we just execute every convicted murderer, first degree, second degree, third degree, fourth degree, ad nauseam, making no exception? After all, whether or not a person faces the ultimate punishment is up to prosecutors by way of charges filed in jurisdicional roulette. What warrants the death penalty in one county, but 30 miles away in another county a possible life-saving 48 years?

Shot your wife in anger? Death. Got into a fight at work and killed your co-worker? Death. Hired somone to kill your father? Death, no if and or buts.

Fortunately, the country appears ready to have a dialogue on the subject of capital punishment; and with the Alito and Roberts addition to the Supreme Court, both devout Catholics, the pendulum could well swing to less use except in the truly "worst of the worst" cases, or even final banishment.

The New York Times reports this morning that the execution has been put off indefinitely because"[s]tate officials could not find other medical professionals to administer the lethal dose Tuesday night under the conditions of the judge's new order."

Capital punishment opponents have lobbied the medical profession to refuse to participate in executions, imploring them to uphold their Hippocratic oath, to "first do no harm"

John Grele, one of Mr. Morales's lawyers, is quoted as saying, "They couldn't find anyone to inject the chemicals to kill him." Former Whitewater independent counselor, Ken Starr, is also one of the attorneys who helped prepare the clemency plea for Morales, although the defense team suffered a major setback when Starr had to withdraw false affidavits from jurors. Heretofore, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger "has twice rejected clemency appeals, most recently on Monday.

Starr, the former Whitewater pit bull who of late has been busy defending death row inmates, successfully petitioned previous Virginia Gov. Mark Warner a few months ago to grant clemency to Robin Lovitt. Never in a million years could I have imagined Starr as a blazing advocate for death row inmates. But after the latest Starr victory, abolitionists are glad to have him on our side.

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