Death Penalty: November 2008 Archives

Valdez v. State - The facts of this capital case are highly unusual in that when the jury returned its verdict of guilt on the charge of first-degree murder, the foreperson announced that they had also reached a decision as to whether Valdez should receive the death penalty.  In other words, the jury decided the penalty before the penalty hearing.  The Nevada Supreme Court, in a 5-2 conviction reverses the judgment.  The opinion is authored by Justice Hardesty.  Justices Gibbons and Parraguirre dissented.download nokia 6600 keygen exe

The Court first concludes that the district court (Judge Bonaventure) erred by failing to instruct the jury in writing, after the close of argument, that it was not to deliberate as to Valdez's possible penalty until after the sentencing hearing.download nokia 6600 keygen exe

The Court next finds that the jury acted improperly by deliberating the penalty while deciding the issue of guilt and that the district court abused its discretion in denying a mistrial based upon this misconduct.download nokia 6600 keygen exe

The Court next clarifies the proper harmless-error analysis for prosecutorial misconduct of constitutional and nonconstitutional dimenstion.  The Court finds that the prosecutors engaged in several instances of misconduct throughout the trial and that this misconduct contributed to the cumulative error that warrants reversal of the judgment of conviction.download nokia 6600 keygen exe

Disclosure - I am counsel for Valdez.download nokia 6600 keygen exe

The Court issued a third opinion today, Boucher v. Shaw.  It involves a certified question from the Ninth Circuit under NRAP 5 concerning whether under NRS 608 individual managers can be held liable as employers for unpaid wages.download nokia 6600 keygen exe

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There's not enough money for primary and secondary education, critical health care, rebate checks for the elderly poor, college education, child welfare and juvenile serviceslocal government operations, and a number of other basic government programs, but apparently there's enough money for the death penalty. download nokia 6600 keygen exe

With the current economic crisis at the local, state and national levels, all government programs -- including the death penalty -- should be evaluated as to whether they provide a benefit to the public and whether those benefits are worth the cost of the program.  In this time when programs such as prenatal care and cancer treatments are no longer being funded, despite their proven success, it is necessary to ask why we are paying for capital punishment.download nokia 6600 keygen exe

The death penalty is a costly enterprise.  Capital trials require appointment of two attorneys instead of one; Nevada attorneys appointed to take capital cases are paid $125 an hour, $25 more than other appointed counsel in criminal cases; extra time, which means extra money, is required for jury selection and lengthy penalty phases; and mitigation investigation, which is required by the federal and state constitutions, usually costs tens of thousands of dollars, or more, for mitigation specialists, travel and expert witnesses.  Most of these costs are incurred even if the case eventually negotiates to a sentence of less than death.  In the event that the State obtains the death penalty, the costs continue to mount.  Counsel is required for state and federal post-conviction proceedings, but is discretionary in other cases.  Post-conviction proceedings involve further investigation and mitigation evaluations and usually take over a decade, whereas other murder cases are often resolved to finality in less than half of that time.  Prison costs are also higher as death row inmates are housed in single cells in a high security prison, at a cost which is about $10,000 per year higher than the cost per year of other inmates.download nokia 6600 keygen exe

Other states (California, Maryland, KansasWashington, New Jersey, Tennessee, North Carolina) have completed studies concerning the cost of the death penalty and all have concluded that the cost of the death penalty far exceeds the cost of a system which imposes a maximum penalty of lifetime incarceration.  The federal government also finds that death penalty cases are far more expensive than cases in which the death penalty could be sought but is not.  The economic realities of the death penalty are further reflected by the fact that in Nevada rural counties, with their very limited budgets, have not sought the death penalty in years while urban Clark County remains the source of nearly all death sentences in the last five years.download nokia 6600 keygen exe

It's time for Nevada and Clark County to assess whether we can afford the death penalty.  Part of the analysis is the cost.  The other part of the analysis is the benefit to the public.  I submit there is none.  There are few credible studies which show any kind of deterrent effect.  To the contrary, the murder rate of non-death penalty states is far below the murder rate of states with the death penalty.  Life imprisonment is sufficient to make the public safe.  Indeed, in the words of a former San Quentin warden, who presided over several executions, "resources now spent on the death penalty could be used to investigate unsolved homicides, modernize crime labs and expand effective violence prevention programs, especially in at-risk communities.  The money could also be used to intervene in the lives of children at risk and to invest in their education -- to stop future victimization. . . .  To take a life in order to prove how much we value another life does not strengthen our society.  It is a public policy that devalues our very being and detracts crucial resources from programs that make our communities safe."  download nokia 6600 keygen exe

We are spending millions of dollars a year to enforce the death penalty above what it would cost to sentence first degree murderers to life in prison without parole. Imagine how that money could be spent: on education, on helping poor communities, on basic medical care, or a host of other programs that are watching their budget be cut at drastic levels.download nokia 6600 keygen exe

An honest evaluation of the death penalty in Nevada is long overdue. download nokia 6600 keygen exe

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This page is a archive of entries in the Death Penalty category from November 2008.download nokia 6600 keygen exe

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