THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:
(Rump, with respect to the Essen family, I post these matters. If you want to hold them off until tomorrow, I certainly understand).
Justice Thomas, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court & The Death Penalty .......
In case you missed it, today marked a new low by Justice Thomas in his rein as an Associate Justice on our highest court. Here is what happened in case you were not awake at 1:34 am.
Tennessee executed Cecil Johnson at 1:34 a.m. today. Johnson had spent nearly 29 years on death row for three murders committed during a robbery of a Nashville convenience store. He was convicted in 1981.
The Supreme Court refused early this morning to hear the last-minute appeal of Johnson. The opinions written by Stevens & Thomas have been described now as a "Death Clash at the High Court". The issue was whether execution after lengthy delay is cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. A high court majority rejected Johnson's application for a stay of execution and his petition for review in which he raised the Eighth Amendment challenge.
Justice John Paul Stevens, joined by Justice Stephen Breyer, dissented, saying Johnson’s situation was “as compelling a case” as he had encountered raising the constitutional concerns that Stevens himself raised in a 1995 dissent from another denial of certiorari: Lackey v. Texas. Besides the constitutional issue, Stevens said Johnson’s case raised two important procedural questions: whether, as in Johnson’s case, the Eighth Amendment challenge can be made as a civil rights claim under Section 1983, and, if it cannot, whether a second habeas petition raising the claim is a successive petition subject to a procedural bar. Treating the claim as a habeas petition—which the lower court here did—only contributes to additional delay, he said.
Stevens said he remained “steadfast” in his view that execution after such delay is unacceptably cruel because it subjects death row inmates to decades of severe, dehumanizing conditions of confinement. Delaying an execution, he added, also does not further the public purposes of retribution and deterrence.
Thomas said Stevens first proposed his “novel” Eighth Amendment argument 14 years ago. Thomas stated, "There was no support for the argument then and there is no support now". Then Thomas goes all "Blackstone" on him, stating:
"There are alternatives to current procedural safeguards .... As Blackstone observed, the principle that punishment should follow the crime as early as possible was expressed in an English statute decreeing that “in case of murder, the judge shall in his sentence direct execution to be performed, on the next day but one after sentence passed.”
Thomas went further: "I have no doubt that such a system would avoid the diminishing justification problem Justice Stevens identifies ...."
Has anyone informed Thomas that, according to the Innocence Project, there have been no less than 245 post conviction DNA exonerations in the United States, 17 of which were people sentenced to DEATH.
CAPTAIN OUT .................
(I removed the portion of the post about the changes in County Court procedures because I like to stick to one major topic. I will post the now infamous Slom Memo soon. HR.)
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