COURT OF CAPITAL APPEALS (2010)
by Timothy Rollins, Editor and Columnist
February 12, 2010
It was a double murder case in Oregon in 2002 that inspired the original version of this column. In light of recent events though, I am compelled to update this piece in light of the New Jersey and New Mexico legislatures eliminating capital punishment in part due to cost considerations. In light of these actions, there is an essential need to examine the issue more closely.
While some use Eighth Amendment grounds to oppose the death penalty as constituting cruel and unusual punishment and therefore is unconstitutional, I submit that Death Row inmates forfeited their Eighth Amendment rights the moment they took away those same rights from their victims. While liberals may not like my position, perhaps we can help our liberal friends to neutralize their concerns and expedite the execution of these sentences (if you will pardon the pun.)
America is perhaps the only civilized country that still has the stones to execute our most incorrigible offenders - the worst of the evil - the ones if given an opportunity, would unhesitatingly kill again. You're not killing criminals as much as you're eradicating pests; you know, squashing human cockroaches. Ted Bundy (Florida), Stephen Judy (Indiana) and John Wayne Gacy (Illinois) are just a few of the creeps the state had the decency to put to death like the cur animals they were. Gacy went down with a lethal injection; Bundy and Judy were strapped in the chair and had the switch thrown - which next to the hangman's noose, is the most cost-effective method for permanent removal of career criminals.
Again - we need to consider another factor as well in the issue of cruel and unusual - and that is the effects on the surviving family members of those killed by these cretins that got them on death row on the first place. Eighth Amendment protections should be afforded victims as well as perps; and while I wouldn't advocate torture or other cruel and unusual punishment upon a prisoner, it should not also be visited either upon a survivor or a family member left behind. By dragging out appeals for 15-25 years and beyond, that is exactly what's happening in most capital cases and as such, an essential need exists for an expedited execution process, and I think I might have a solution.
In America, we have plenty of different court systems. In New York, they have Supreme Court, which tries criminal matters, there is civil term for civil matters, there is family court; there is also the court of appeals for appellate matters. At the federal level, we have U.S. District Court, Immigration Court, Tax Court, we have other courts, and also the 11 Circuit Courts of Appeal (depending on where one lives) and last but not least, the Supremes in Washington. What the individual states should look into to both cut costs as well as expedite the wheels of justice is the following:
Each state with capital punishment laws on its books should establish a Court of Capital Appeals comprised of seven judges, each of whom would be appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the State Senate. They would serve eight-year terms - and unlike New York, where judges run for election, they would follow the Utah model for judicial retention. These judges would come up for retention on staggered terms like every 2 years with the seventh judge on the fourth two-year election. The simple question put to the voters would be 'Should Judge John A. Smith retain his seat on the New York Court of Capital Appeals?" If YES, he stays another eight years. If NO, he stands down December 31, and the time between the election and the end of the year can be used by the governor to select a replacement and secure Senate approval.
Such a model can and should be successful. With the use of DNA as part of the appellate process and the case automatically going straight from the trial court to the Court of Capital Appeals, the possibility exists that these cases could and should be resolved and all appeals be completely exhausted within 24 months after filing. Once the appeals are complete, the attorney general would be free to set an execution date, and that would be just fine with the majority of law-abiding Americans who want to walk the streets knowing they will be safe from the animals who all too often care only about themselves.
This is an idea whose time is long overdue. ***
© 2010 Timothy Rollins
A veteran freelance writer, Timothy Rollins
brings a wealth of political and military experience dating back more than three
decades. He is a freelance writer and policy analyst living in Oklahoma who
has been featured both on television and radio. He has appeared both in online
publications as well as in print newspapers in the United States such as the
Journal Sentinel, USA TODAY, the
Deseret News in Salt Lake City, and
also in Canada, where he has appeared in The
Toronto SUN and the Daily Herald in Halifax, Nova Scotia. His television
appearances include The Michael Coren
Show in Canada and KWTV 9 NEWS in Oklahoma
City. The views expressed here by Mr. Rollins are his own and do not represent
the official views of any organization or entity with which he may otherwise
be affiliated. As such, Mr. Rollins alone takes full responsibility for them.
He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2010 BY THE AMERICAN PARTISAN
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