Tuesday, January 01, 2013

New Year Updates Part One (Rick Halperin's News & Updates)

USA: Death penalty is a tool for tyrants Your recent article with state Rep. Claire Levy questioning the death penalty addresses a difficult issue, especially in light of recent horrendous mass murders. She notes how death penalty prosecutions are so expensive that they undermine our ability to adequately fund other criminal cases. However, this misses many bigger problems. First is the often ignored principle that violence (state executions) begets more violence. Another is one we rarely dare mention. Simply put, I do not trust government bureaucrats to decide who shall be put to death. Though not worried for myself, I am concerned for those most effective in speaking truth to power and corruption. Our democracy depends on encouraging and not intimidating the outspoken, perceptive courageous few, not unlike our Founding Fathers. They were equivalent to "terrorists" for the ruling British aristocracy. Many governments use the death penalty on their most hated political adversaries.

The death penalty is the tool of tyrants. Our country already employs solitary confinement as a form of torture that is effective in silencing the offender. Such treatment of Private First Class Bradley Manning is an example, (even if you disagree with his whistle-blowing). The most effective, permanent means to silence political enemies is the death penalty. Is it not possible some associated with our government could be so desperate? The 2012 Defense Authorization Act in its ambiguity could enable indefinite detention of anyone considered a threat, even U.S. citizens not involved with armed conflicts. Will more political enemies as supposed terrorists be targeted for elimination, like an expedited administrative death penalty? Abolishing our state death penalty would be a symbolic yet significant first step in protecting our remaining constitutional rights and reducing our potential for unexpected tyranny.

JOHN C. BOLLINGER----Lafayette (source: Letter to the Editor, (Boulder, Colo.) Daily Camera) 


Rare NYS death penalty case may reach Brooklyn in 2013 The year 2013 will bring a number of new beginnings to Brooklyn. In Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 2 will open with courts for bocce, handball, and basketball. The Prospect Park Lakeside Project, to open in fall 2013, will possess 2 ice rinks. And in the Brooklyn courts, a rare death-penalty case may be heard. The case of Ronell Wilson, convicted cop killer, may come to the Federal District Court in Brooklyn in the new year. Wilson was convicted in 2007 of the 2003 double murder of undercover NYPD Detectives Rodney Andrews and James Nemorin. A Brooklyn jury found Wilson guilty of the murders, which stemmed from an illegal gun buy sting gone wrong, and sentenced Wilson to die by lethal injection -- the 1st time in New York that a federal defendant was sentenced to death since 1954. Wilson's attorneys appealed the decision, and the U.S. Court of Appeals threw out the sentence, but not the conviction due to prosecutorial error. The prosecution, the court said, violated Wilson's constitutional rights by telling the jury that Wilson's decision to go to trial demonstrated his lack of remorse and refusal to accept responsibility. A new jury was set to again decide whether or not Wilson would face death row.

The new trial was hit with a number of delays, primarily the issue of whether or not Wilson had the mental capacity to face a death penalty sentence. "We are concerned for his mental health, as he has no contact with his family and friends and no access to his legal materials so that his ability to assist his legal team is compromised," one of the lawyers wrote in an Aug. 15 letter to the warden at a Brooklyn lockup. This set the stage for Wilson's mental health defense. The United States Supreme Court has long ago ruled that inmates who are mentally insane - or developmentally disabled - cannot be executed. Wilson's attorney's asserted that Wilson is intellectually impaired following a childhood of deprivation and neglect, with a drug-addicted mother who was largely absent from their broken home. During a December 2012 special hearing to address the issue of Wilson's mental capacity, an expert witness for the prosecution, Dr. Raymond Patterson, found Wilson fit and sane enough to face the death penalty. "[Wilson] said that if the judge finds that he was mentally retarded, he cannot face the death penalty," Patterson said to validate his finding that Wilson was narcissistic and articulate. The defense however, presented a number of witnesses to refute the prosecution's findings. Johns Hopkins neurologist Bruce Shapiro told Brooklyn Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis, that Wilson "was functionally illiterate and functionally innumerate." "This young man could not work. He had significant limitations. He could not do many practical household activities," Shapiro said, noting that as a young man Wilson needed instruction on "how to clean himself and how to shop." The issue is now in the hands of Hon. Garaufis, who will eventually rule on whether Wilson is mentally fit to face the death penalty. If the court finds Wilson mentally fit, he will face a new penalty phase trial this spring, where a new jury will decide if Wilson will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole or be executed by lethal injection. (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle)

More News/Op Ed items for the New Year 2013 to follow...

1 comment:

CN said...

To the person or persons who continue to post low, vulgar comments with potentially dangerous links:

I pray for you and each of us to live out a legacy of honor and peace -- both for our loved ones who've gone on or are still here. Plz consider the wasted energy of the most negative sort which would seek to corrupt such small yet well-meant attempts at a better way. You are not yet lost to a higher calling. You are still alive. Let's be truly alive in all that is good and constructive.