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Reasonable Doubt

We know how I feel about the death penalty (short version: not a fan). Seems a man is scheduled to die in Tennessee tonight for a 1982 murder. I think there’s enough reasonable doubt to warrant further investigation into the case of Phillip Workman. He’s no boyscout, that’s for sure. But the death penalty is irreversible and all evidence needs to be looked at because death can’t be undone. Freedonian and I don’t see eye-to-eye on a lot of issues (because he’s a hoplophobe) but I think he’s right on this time.

Via AC.

15 Responses to “Reasonable Doubt”

  1. Freedonian Says:

    Thanks, Uncle.

  2. ben Says:

    I agree. Execution 25 years after the fact is ridiculous anyway. For the death penalty, there better be no doubt.

  3. Nashville is Talking » Workman on Death Watch. The Time Nears. Says:

    […] Say Uncle: I think there’s enough reasonable doubt to warrant further investigation into the case of Phillip Workman. He’s no boyscout, that’s for sure. But the death penalty is irreversible and all evidence needs to be looked at because death can’t be undone. […]

  4. Sebastian-PGP Says:

    I think you can make a pretty good argument that a goodly number of those on death row probably do deserve what they’re going to get and worse…

    That said, the issue for me that’s dispositive re: the DP is pretty straightforward–do you trust the govt to decide who lives and dies?

    Govt doesn’t get much right, and is in need of constant revision and tinkering. The problem is…you can’t tinker with the DP. We know for a fact that innocent people have been executed.

    Better to pardon or release 100 guilty men than wrongly execute one innocent person. Period.

  5. Dan Says:

    I have to disagree with Sebastian, It’s not the government that decides who lives and who dies. It’s a jury of ones piers. 25 years after the fact is ridiculous, That’s a lot of money to spend on a dead man. Everyone has their opinion and we can all go on forever but unfortunately we have a need for the death penalty as much as we have a need for guns and lawyers.

  6. Jim W Says:

    With all due respect, the government isnt deciding who lives and dies, the jury is.

    The government decides who to blame and decides whom to prosecute, but the judge and the jury determine who gets found guilty and the jury decides who among the guilty die.

    The death penalty should be carried out a lot quicker than 25 years. The guy is obviously a turd and the jury duly decided to flush him. The problem isnt that he is being executed, the problem is taht it took so long.

  7. Jim W Says:

    As regards the cruelty of lethal injection, let’s be realistic. It is an execution, not an ice cream sandwich. It is supposed to kill you, not make you feel comfortable or happy. Nothing we can do is going to make punishment pleasant or fun. Nor should we want to. It isnt something we are supposed to be inflicting upon the innocent.

  8. straightarrow Says:

    PGP is absolutely correct. I don’t like the death penalty, either. I can’t deny its applicability in certain situations. It is provided for in the Constitution. However, there is so much chicanery in prosecutors’ offices that until we visit upon them the same penalty that was suffered by a convicted person if we later find out that the prosecution cheated we should not be using it.

    Recent history bears out the logic of this position. In Illinois alone, dozens of inmates, some on death row, have been released when it was proven beyond a doubt that they could not have committed the crime for which they were tried and that the prosecution could not have obtained a conviction absent their criminal acts of commission and/or omission.

    Illinois is not unique, this is a systemic problem in our legal (I refuse to call it a justice system) system.

    Until we fix the problem of dishonest prosecutors and perjuring cops, we have little business condemning someone to death. There are some cases so egregious and obvious that there can be no argument, but they are few.

  9. straightarrow Says:

    Damn it! I forgot to mention rue. 🙂

  10. _Jon Says:

    slightly related – compare how careful we are as a society before we perform the DP on a “convicted” criminal (I have doubts in the justice system because lawyers have learned to suppress evidence) with how easy it is for a SWAT team to get a “dynamic entry” warrant and possibly kill a not-yet-tried criminal (and some truly innocent citizens).

    [wow, that was a horribly constructed sentence. I’m too tired to fix it.]

    Go read Balko’s website for example after example of citizens killed before they even got a trial.

  11. Tam Says:

    I have to disagree with Sebastian, Its not the government that decides who lives and who dies. Its a jury of ones piers.

    To put it bluntly, I doubt I have twelve peers nearby who could be roped into jury duty.

    What you mean is that “It’s not the government that decides who lives and who dies; it’s a dozen randomly selected individuals dumb enough to confuse American Idol with entertainment, who have been held captive and fed a stream of half-truths by a larval politician with the scruples of a jackal.”

    That’s comforting.

  12. Sebastian-PGP Says:

    Jim and Dan,
    The jury serves at the pleasure of the govt; the govt’s job is to produce the evidence that the jury decides life and death with, and the govt carries out the sentence.

    You don’t see how govt fucking up or abusing their power directly and causationally leads to the death of the accused?


    There aren’t free roaming juries running around electrocuting and lethally injecting people independent of action by the state. They can make such a decision (which can be upheld or overturned by, you guessed it, an agent of the state) only at the behest of the govt.

  13. Sebastian-PGP Says:

    Just to belabor the point, those people SA mentions who never should have been convicted…don’t even try to tell me the govt isn’t the party responsible for that happening.

  14. markm Says:

    With all due respect, the government isnt deciding who lives and dies, the jury is.

    Based on evidence collected, analyzed, and presented by the government, which can pressure witnesses to change their stories and reward known criminals for becoming witnesses. The judge is usually a former prosecutor, and has a lot of control over what evidence is presented. The defense lawyer is usually paid by the government, too, and not well – and nothing short of snoring during the trial or swapping racist jokes with jurors at the defendant’s expense is considered incompetent lawyering anymore, when it’s the public defender doing these things. The defense hardly ever gets funds for independent investigations or lab tests. In many areas, the prosecution gets so used to the defense rolling over that, on the rare occasions when a well-funded and highly competent defense team comes on board before trial, the government’s case falls apart, whether the defendants were plainly innocent (the Duke Lacrosse team) or guilty as hell (O.J.), but few people can spend a million dollars on their defense…

    Besides, no one intelligent enough to understand “beyond a reasonable doubt” is likely to get past jury selection.

  15. straightarrow Says:

    MarkM. that is the most despicable drivel I have read all day. Not good enough for a record, but damn shoddy.

    A jury makes its decision based on the facts presented to it. If those facts, aren’t, but instead are fabrications or exculpatory facts are omitted from the discovery process by the state then the jury has been defrauded and is not the body responsible for the miscarriage of justice.

    I don’t know why you pretend you don’t understand that.

    Prosecutorial misconduct is not forgivable no matter the competence of the defensandt’s representation.

    By the way, OJ didn’t do it. He is a prick and a bastard and probably belongs in jail for other shit, but the prosecution convinced me that not only didn’t he do it, they didn’t even believe he did it. And I started with the opposite impression.

    I will leave you with one last thought as regards your $1 million statement as to the ability to defense in a court.

    “However, when wealth becomes a prerequisite in pursuit of justice, arms are the coin of liberty of the non-wealthy.” -straightarrow

    There you have one of the most serious reasons why the state should be held to the strictest observance of the law.