Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Judges Responsible For Grossly Uneven Executions

Judges Responsible For Grossly Uneven Executions
Dudley Sharp

re: Why only 2% of counties are responsible for 51% of all executions


The three primary reasons for executions being limited to so few counties are these: 1) Very few of the counties will have the majority of capital murders; 2) Judges are responsible for grossly uneven executions and 3) prosecutors make the choices to seek or reject the death penalty and they will always vary on support or rejection of the death penalty, prosecutorial discresion, which will, of course, affect the number of death sentences and executions.

Virtually all media, completely, avoided a reality check on this issue.


Judges are responsible for grossly uneven executions, demonstrating dictatorial like contempt for the law in those states where it is, virtually, impossible to execute confirmed murderers. Some states execute 70% of their death sentenced murderers, others 0%.


Prosecutors know this.

If abortions had to be, individually, approved or rejected, by judicial ruling, and some states approved them at a 50-80% rate and others at a 0-10% rate, do you think the media might notice? 


Would they blame the judges or abortions?


With such uneven enforcement, with the death penalty, the media will just blame . . . well . . . the death penalty.  Completely irresponsible and false.

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The media seemed astounded that 2% of US counties account for 51% of the executions.

The Dallas Morning News writes:


"The report illustrates the nation’s grossly uneven use of the death penalty, with 2 percent of the counties responsible for most executions, far out of proportion to their population."

The DMN, as most media, missed both the forest and the trees. Why? They didn't even look. They, intentionally, blind folded themselves.


Judges are responsible for grossly uneven executions.

Does population matter?

There are 3144 counties (aka as parishes & others). 


If we look at the 2% of the countieswith the highest number of death penalty convictions in death penalty states,  I suspect we will be in the ballpark of having a majority (51%) of the nations capital murders, in death penalty states, with the greatest variable in executions, caused by the judges, the case managers. 


In 2002, the 75 largest counties had 51% of murders and non-negligent manslaughters, 61% of robberies and 36% of forcible rapes, nationally (1), which is in the ballpark of 60-70% of what we know as capital, death penalty eligible murders, inclusive of robbery/murders, rape/murders, police murders, multiple and serial murders, in death penalty eligible counties.

75 is nearly 2.4% of all counties, both death penalty eligible and not.

In other words, we should expect  that 2% of US counties would account for 51% of the executions. Yet, somehow, the media was surprised.

When you don't fact check, that happens.

As far as executions, will population matter?  No.

This study wrongly included all NON death penalty counties, making a typical inaccurate mess, as the anti death penalty Death Penalty (Mis)Information Center (DPIC) often does.

New York state  had the death penalty for a very short time and New York City, the most populous city, possibly in the second most populous count(ies) (NYC includes 5 counties), and the state gave very few death penalties, none of which were carried out. State courts threw out their death penalty as unconstitutional.

Michigan has three counties in the top 63, by population, one county with a  perennial murder leader, Detroit, and has not had the death penalty for over a century. but is included in this review, as were all other non death penalty jurisdictions.

32 out of the 63 most populous counties, either have never had the death penalty, in the modern era, execute very little or not, at all (2).

There are four factors, responsible for the study results,  which weigh much more heavily than do population counts:


1) the improper inclusion of non death penalty counties, by DPIC, the source;
2) elected district attorneys have discretion which, likely, reflects the philosophy of the majority population who voted for those prosecutors, who may be anti or pro death penalty, as their voters wished, as we would expect;
3) Total numbers of capital murders in the death penalty counties;
4) The most decisive factor, by far, is the state and federal judges. 

I found no media outlet that considered any of those. 

California has the largest population of death row inmates, because many of the counties and their DA's support the death penalty and because the courts either block executions or cause huge delays in appeals (4), as is/was the case in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and others;

New Jersey judges would never allow any executions;

A federal judge in Connecticut threatened to disbar an attorney, because his client, serial rapist/murderer Michael Ross, had volunteered for execution. That remains the single execution in Connecticut, which ONLY occurred because that judge was put in his place, by a superior court, and because Ross "volunteered".

Pennsylvania judges are a little bit better, they do allow "volunteers" to be executed, without threatening disbarment, but won't allow executions for any murderers that pursue appeals;

Texas and Virginia have executed about 50% (510) and 70% (110) of their death row murderers, respectively, because their judges are not obstructionists to the law (3).


Nationally, within appeals, inmates are twice as likely (42%, 3481 cases) to be removed from death row by means other than execution or other death (21%, 1737) (3).

The opposite of Virginia, where inmates are 4.1 times more likely (76%, 115) to be removed from death row by execution or other death than to be removed by other means (18%, 28) (2).

Why such a disparity? The judges.

Judges are, by far, the dominant factor in the exclusive geography of executions. Their discretion, as to their observance and respect of death penalty law or contempt and disregard of it, dictates if murderers will be executed.

Judges are responsible for grossly uneven executions, demonstrating dictatorial like contempt for the law in those states where it is, virtually, impossible to execute confirmed murderers.


If abortions had to be individually, approved or rejected, by judicial ruling, and some states approved them at a 50-80% rate and others at a 0-10% rate, do you think the media might notice that it is the judges, not abortions?


Of course. The criticism of the judges would be overwhelming and everybody knows it.

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Appeals:


For example:


In Texas, appeals take, on average, nearly 11 years prior to execution, and can go through 4 courts: The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (a Supreme Court that only looks at criminal cases), the Federal District Court, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the US Supreme Court, all of which CAN review both direct appeals and the writ.

1) Texas death  penalty cases are overturned 17% of the time. Nationally, absent Texas, 40% of death penalty cases are overturned within appeals (2).


Texas's due process shows a 58% improvement over the national average.


2)  Texas has executed 45% of those sentenced to death. Nationally, absent Texas, that figure is 11% (2).


Texas' appellate record is 310% better than the national average.


NOTE: Virginia has executed 72% (109) of those so sentenced and has an overturning rate of only 11% (2)  and executes within 7.1 years, on average (2).


Nationally, within appeals, inmates are twice as likely (42%, 3481 cases) to be removed from death row by means other than execution or other death (21%, 1737) (2).


 The opposite of Virginia, wherein inmates are 4.1 times more likely (76%, 115) to be removed from death row by execution or other death than to be removed by other means (18%, 28) (2).


In the modern death penalty era: 

Nevada's first 11 executions occurred after about 4.5 years of appeals, on average. 

Virginia's first 108 executions occurred after 7.1 years of appeals, on average. 

Nationally, the first 60 executions occurred after about 5  years, on average (3)

Modern era executions began in 1977.


From 1984-1988, when double digit executions began, it took 6.6 years, on average, of appeals, prior to execution (3), nationally.


6.6 years.

In 1996, the US Congress passed the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, part of which was supposed to quicken death penalty appeals.

Every year since then, the average time of appeals, until execution, has gotten longer.

From 2009-2013, it took 15 years, on average, prior to execution (3), nationally.

15 years.

State and federal legislatures, attorney general's district attorneys, defense counsel and state and federal judges need to have open meetings to discuss why judges are, deliberately, obstructing the death penalty.


The judges are the case managers and set the schedules, on a case by case basis, pre trial, at trial and on appeals, controlling all timing and costs.

The judges are responsible for grossly uneven executions, demonstrating dictatorial like contempt for the law in those states where it is, virtually, impossible to execute confirmed murderers.

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1) Highlights, page 1, State Court Processing Statistics, 1990-2002, Violent Felons in Large Urban Counties, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice,  July 2006, NCJ 205289, http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/ascii/vfluc.txt

2)  List of the most populous counties in the United States http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_most_populous_counties_in_the_United_States

3)  Capital Punishment, 2012, Bureau of Justice Statistics, last edited 11/3/14,  Table 17, Number sentenced to death and number of removals, by jurisdiction and reason for removal, 1973–2012