HB 1552 - Death Penalty

Discussion in 'Off-topic' started by Malum Prohibitum, Mar 9, 2006.

  1. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    HB 1552 has been introduced to change the requirement of a unanimous death penalty. This bill was introduced after the kidnapping and brutal murder of Jordan and Whitney Land (a mother and two year old). One hold out on the jury kept the murderer from being executed. [Update: Make that two holdouts.]

    Here is a link to the bill: http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2005 ... hb1552.htm

    By the way, they were kidnapped from a park in Clayton County. Clayton County has the following ordinance:

    Sec. 66-20. Firearms.
    It shall be unlawful for any person to possess, carry or use any firearm in a park unless otherwise specifically authorized by state law.

    Here is a web site with more information about Whitney and Jordan Land:
    http://www.reconsearchandrescue.org/news.htm

    How anyone could look at that family photo and not impose the death penalty is difficult to fathom, but either way one lone holdout after a unanimous finding of guilty should not stand in the way of justice.
     
  2. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

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    MP,

    The AJC reported today that there were two opponents on the jury. The RECON site also says it was two.

    How many holdouts should it take to stand in the way of vengeance, er, justice? Oh, and hopefully it takes more than a family photo to get executed.
     

  3. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    OK, so it's two! :D

    jrm, don't take this the wrong way, but I will answer your question by being brutally frank. I do not think there should be any penalty other than death for murder.

    I think the Supreme Court is wrong on most of its death penalty decisions.

    I do not think there should be any "penalty phase," as a result.

    Therefore, any legislation to bring us closer to that goal is fine with me.

    With that having been said, I probably would impose a supermajority of some sort. I think this bill provides for a majority.

    As people become more, what is it they call it, "civilized," :roll: , perhaps a simple majority is more appropriate.
     
  4. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    Not in my book.
     
  5. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

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    I don't take it the wrong way (at least I don't think I do). It seems pretty straightforward. I don't agree with it, but it's hard not to understand your point.

    From my perspective, there are too many variables in "murder" for it to result in automatic execution. For example, there is a fine line between a completely justified self-defense and a murder, and that fine line is the reasonableness of the belief that one's life was in dange. I just don't think the state ought to kill people for being too close to that line. Another example, GA is one of the few states (maybe only?) that has the death penalty for felony murder. As has been discussed in other recent threads, the legislature has seen fit to "felonize" our lives. And, I could conjure up no end of scenarios where someone was committing what has been (for better or worse) defined to be a felony, where the person could not even reasonably foresee someone dying during the commission of said felony, and where the elements of felony murder are a slam dunk to prove.

    I might take that the wrong way, because I can't tell what "most" SCOTUS death penalty decisions say. Sometimes it's okay to execute, sometimes it's not. Sometimes death for rape is okay, sometimes it's no. Sometime's the death penalty is cruel and unusual, sometimes it's not. I guess everybody must disagree with close to half of them, except for people who have no opinions.
     
  6. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

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    I read the bill, and I don't think it does what death penalthy proponents are seeking, but I do think it may have constitutional problems.

    First, it doesn't allow the jury to impose a sentence of death on a simple majority. It allows the judge to decide among life, life without parole, or death if the jury only has a simple majority recommending death.

    Second, it requires the judge to find beyond a reasonable doubt that an aggravating factor exists before he can impose death. You can be guaranteed that, if this passes, and someone is sentenced to death under these circumstances, the defendant will appeal on the grounds that this statute unconstitutionally deprives the defendant of the right to have the existence of an aggravating circumstance determined by a jury. And, I predict, the ambiguity contained in this bill will weigh in favor of the defendant in those circumstances.
     
  7. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    Two Comments

    I agree with JRM that there are too many different scenarios which a jury might declare to be "murder" which come very close to self-defense, voluntary manslaughter (the victim provoked the defendant, who struck in blind rage without thinking), and involuntary manslaughter (killing through reckless behavior). For those kind of "murders," I think an appropriate penalty range would start at 10 years to serve, maybe with a special provision allowing as little as 10-serve-5 for elderly murderers whose life expectancy is not much more than 5 years anyway.

    But for the typical murder, an intentional killing without provocation and done during the course of a robbery or as revenge for some perceived insult the victim may have given in the past, THOSE are the cases where the death penalty should be regularly imposed, and preferably carried out within a year of when sentence is passed.


    I also think that juries often blur the line between "beyond reasonable doubt" and "preponderance of the evidence" in circumstantial evidence cases where there ARE other viable, plausible, reasonable explanations for how the evidence can be as it is and yet the defendant is innocent (if not wholly innocent of everything, at least innocent of the most serious charges). I don't know what the solution to this is. I can assure you that even though IN EVERY CRIMINAL TRIAL the standard is the same-- beyond reasonable doubt-- if I were a juror, I would view the State's evidence with extra skepticism and hold the State to an even higher standard when considering a case where I thought the defendant would face execution or life without parole. I would find it easier to convict a guy of Theft by Taking than Malice Murder, even given the same legal standard in the Court's charge to the jury.
     
  8. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    P.S. Supermajority Verdict

    P.S. Once a jury is informed and appreciates the high burden of "beyond reasonable doubt," I think it would be appropriate to get convictions on a supermajority of 10 out of 12 votes, and similarly the death penalty ought to be imposed on the same supermajority vote. There's no U.S. Constitutional right to a jury of 12 (it could be fewer), and there is no federal constitutional right to a unanimous verdict. The State of Georgia requires both of these things (or a valid waiver by the defendant), but I would support changing Georgia's law to allow a jury of 9, 10, or 11, so long as at least 80% of the jurors vote "guilty." That would be 8 out of 9, 8 out of 10, 9 out of 11, or 10 out of 12.
     
  9. SigmanSauer

    SigmanSauer New Member

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    HB1552

    JRM I too will be very frank and as Malum said don't take this the wrong way.

    More than a family photo to get executed!???? What if that photo is of a two year old little girl sitting in her car seat who was shot once in the chest, close range and then again in the face along with her mother as they played in a local park. Either a mother watched her (2) year old die or a toddler watched her mother die. At some point they were placed in the trunk of the mother’s car and set on fire, all at the hands of filth. Think that is enough to call for the death penalty?? Think that is aggravating circumstances!?? Would you have used your gun if this trash had approached your family? By the way, a unanimous decision on the total and absolute guilt of the freak came back in 10 minutes by the jury. One of the jurors that held out against the death penalty made racial comments and obviously committed perjury when she was asked if she would have any problem issuing the death penalty. That could have been any of our families and was someone’s family, a very nice, sweet and loving family, who contribute positively to society; not only family but a mother and a toddler. I guess what you are saying is that this type of activity should not be met with lethal force or capital punishment... ey?? Keep letting these monsters get away with this kind of atrocity and without serious consequence and you can expect much more of it, and don't tell me life in prison without possibility of parole is equal justice for a two year old being executed in her car seat along side of her mother. Perpetrator is breathing, eating, watching television, reading and sleeping. Does Whitney or Jordan get to even do these few things now? Was it their choice? Was their death peaceful with family by there sides and simply going to sleep? Do you remember when you were two? This could have happened to any of us. I get really distraught over others looking in from far away without feelings and spitting words of complete apathy for such a heinous act and not supporting laws that could change these injustices. Interesting comment JRM, I hope you don't really feel that way.
     
  10. SigmanSauer

    SigmanSauer New Member

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    Gunsmoker, that is what this bill basically does. In the case of little Jordan and Whitney even the 4 standby jurors (whatever they are formally called) wanted the defendant put to death. So really 14 jurors in all wanted the death penalty. This bill is a voice for Jordan and Whitney. I urge everyone to support it with the same passion you support carry rights!
     
  11. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

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    SigmanSauer,

    We aren't talking about a hypothetical family photo. We are talking about a specific family photo of mother and child. No shots to the chest in a car seat. No shots to the face. No burned bodies in a trunk. A picture of a mother and child. And, yes, I stand by my comment. A picture of a mother and child is not a picture of any aggravating circumstances. What you are saying is, okay, now that you've found the defendant guilty, here's a picture of the victims. Based on the picture of the victims the defendant should die. If that's your opinion, so be it. And, if you think my disagreement with you amounts to my absence of feeling and constitutes my spitting words of complete apathy, again, you are entitled to your opinion. But you are not likely to persuade me to change my opinion through personal attacks or by attempting to guilt me into thinking that my opinion is borne of heartless apathy.
     
  12. SigmanSauer

    SigmanSauer New Member

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    JRM,

    Don't take any of my statements as personal attacks, but rather just as debate.

    Here is your quote†What you are saying is, okay, now that you've found the defendant guilty, here's a picture of the victims. Based on the picture of the victims the defendant should die."

    No one ever said that the family picture is what should be used as the basis to sentence Harris to death. Where did you get that? What should be used is that he is guilty for taking a 2 year old child and her mother’s life. He was found guilty by every member of the jury in all of 10 minutes of deliberation. That is as simple as it gets. The evidence proved the defendant was guilty and that this crime was of a high and aggravated nature, basically a brutal, horrifying and heartless murder of a child and her mother. Simply put, the defendants actions, which he chose, should be what sentences him to death. It would take an extremely narrow mind to not see it that way. The point is that if someone murders, especially a child, they should be sentenced to death, no matter if 2 jurors out of 12, with agendas, voted to not provide for the death penalty.

    Being overly paranoid of the government can be very harmful to our rights just as easy as giving too much power to the government can be. We must use logic and reason when submitting bills to be laws and this bill is completely logical and reasonable. If you make the choice to go commit armed robbery and kill two people, one being a child, then yes, that person should be sentenced to death by a simple majority and not require a unanimous decision. Even a few jurors can be bad people, wouldn’t you agree?

    You never answered my question on whether or not you would have used your firearm to defend you or your family from this same person and same circumstance. I am interested in your statement because if lethal force would have been justified to stop the crime of murder, then why isn't it justified to eliminate the murderer.
     
  13. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

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    SigmanSauer,

    Actually, someone did say that the family picture should be used as the basis to sentence Harris to death. Malum Prohibitum wrote, "How anyone could look at that family photo and not impose the death penalty is difficult to fathom...." That is the comment I was responding to. I simply was saying that it ought to take more than a family photo to impose the death penalty. Apparently, you think so, too.

    Call it debate if you want, but saying that I have no feeling and that I spit complete apathy is a poor substitute for cogent arguments.

    As for the bill, see my criticisms above. You seem to want a simple majority to be able to impose the death sentence. The bill you are pushing does not do that. It permits the judge to impose the death penalty in those circumstances, but it also requires the judge to find aggravating circumstances beyond a reasaonble doubt. I am confident you would be highly frustrated to have this bill passed, have the death penalty imposed, and have it overturned on appeal because it does not require the jury to find the aggravating circumstances.
     
  14. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    You guys might think so - I don't. Family photo is enough for me.

    Well, actually, it would not even take that much. A simple explanation of what occurred, and "off to the death chamber for him" would be my vote.

    The murder of a two year old during a kidnapping is quite "aggravating" enough.

    My only hesitation is that "lethal injection" is far to "civilized." Firing squad is preferable (although Utah only has it, and it is doubtful they will ever use it again - 1976 was the last time).
     
  15. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    Re: Two Comments

    No there aren't! Maybe your idea of self defense is a little different than mine! :shock:

    "Those kind of murders?" Those aren't "murders" at all under Georgia law, much less a "kind" of murder. Nobody on this thread before you mentioned the death penalty in relation to manslaughter.


    I do. Abolish public school's teachers unions. That would at least be a good start.

    Why does the government get to strike people from the jury? Is there a constitutional right to a jury of your peers that applies to the government?

    :lol:
     
  16. SigmanSauer

    SigmanSauer New Member

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    Amen Malum!!! I do agree with you, as you know. Magotts like Harris should undergo the firing squad, several times in fact. As far as the family photo, of course that is an automatic impact and huge consideration. I was just trying to explain to JRM, who didn't seem to understand that the guilt was established with complete facts. The punishment should have definitely considered the photos and the ages and innocence of the victims. The only fitting punishment in this case is a sentence of DEATH.
     
  17. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    Today is crossover day.

    What this means is that if the bill does not pass the House today, then it is dead in the water.

    It could be tacked onto another bill that survives crossover day.


    HB 1552 does not appear to be among the bills the Rules Committee chose for debate and vote today.

    Link to calendar: http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2005 ... /day30.htm
     
  18. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

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    Re: HB1552

    It's not a matter of whether I understood that guilt was established (I did). It was a matter of whether the sentence should be established solely by a family photo. It was you who did not understand that Malum said that it should (you said nobody suggested that, and he did). Actually, he wants capital punishment for all murder, so no family photo should be necessary.
    I did not offer an opinion of whether I think the death penalty is appropriate in this case, but that is what you have been arguing for. I offerred an opinion that a family photo should not be the sole evidence in support of the death penalty in any case. That is, the appearance of the victims in life is scant, if even relevant, evidence of what the punishment should be.
    I failed to address your earlier contention that the privilege of using deadly force during the crime should be sufficient to merit capital punishment after conviction of the crime, so I shall do so here.
    I don't agree. If I am held up at an ATM machine, I'm privileged to use deadly force. If I choose not to do so, however, and the robber takes my cash and leaves, but is later apprehended, tried, and convicted, I do not believe he should suffer the death penalty. That is, my privilege to use deadly force against him during the robbery should not equate to the state's execution of him after convicion for the robbery.
     
  19. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    Re: HB1552

    Bingo! =D>

    Even when the "appearance" is a toddler? :? In my case, you are right, murder = death penalty, no matter what the age of the victim. But I should think most people would agree that the murder of a two year old deserves the worst our weak system has to offer.


    Why not?

    Sure would cut down on armed robberies . . . :mrgreen:
     
  20. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

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    Re: HB1552

    Perhaps. But at a cost I am not willing to pay.