Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Death Penalty Legislation

We've discussed the idea of accomplice liability in the Lillo Brancato case. Down in Texas they call it the Law of Parties. When a murder takes place the lookout man or getaway driver is equally guilty, that's the idea. From The Daily Texan Online, hat tip to TChris at Talk Left.
Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, presented a bill Tuesday that would end death penalty sentences under the Law of Parties.

Dutton said there have been at least 12 people executed under the Law of Parties and possibly as many as 20. He said he has seen cases in which a convicted murderer had been released from prison while members of his party were still on death row.

Twenty-five other states have the Law of Parties, but Texas is the only state that allows the death penalty for defendants convicted under the Law of Parties.

The Talk Left article pointed out that while Texan legislators are trying to restrict the use of the death penalty, in Virginia the exact opposite is taking place. Fortunately Governor Kaine has promised to veto the bill. From the Washington Post article:
The General Assembly once again passed a bill that would eliminate the triggerman rule, making criminals who participate in a murder eligible for the death penalty even if they didn't actually commit the killing.

And once again the governor has pledged to veto it.

But the vote on Tuesday has cast a spotlight on an unlikely opponent of expanding the use of the death penalty: Sen. Ken Cuccinelli II, a conservative law-and-order Republican from Fairfax County who hopes to become attorney general.

Senator Cuccinelli II is a supporter of capital punishment who even favors its expansion in certain cases, but who opposes the Triggerman Rule because he "said juries could be too easily swayed by the heat of a capital prosecution, overlooking nuances of guilt to punish someone whose intent was perhaps ambiguous." Good for you, Senator.

What's your opinion? Is the general direction of the country moving away from capital punishment? What do you think the Obama administration will do with Capital punishment during these next years? Is it an important issue, in light of all the other problems, in your opinion?

Please leave a comment.


  1. If you don't participate in a murder or hang out with potential murderers this shan't be a worry to you.

    If you do, you rolled your own dice. They can't even claim "ignorance of the law".


  2. Is that something like, "kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out."

  3. No, it's like "Do not hang out with murderous people and you'll never run afoul of this law."

    Your life is determined as much by who your friends and aquaintances are as by your own actions. This is just a rather emphatic pointing out of that fact.

    If you ain't ridin wit yo homies with yo nine and a bag of crack you likely ain't gonna be hassled by da PO-lice."