"Ohio Supreme Court Justice William O'Neill dissents from death penalty ruling," is by Brandon Blackwell in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Here's an extended excerpt:
The Ohio Supreme Court's newest justice wants no part in scheduling state executions.
Justice William O'Neill, who took office Jan. 2, dissented from the court's decision last week to schedule the execution of a Southwest Ohio man convicted in 1995 of murdering a 10-year-old girl.
The execution of Jeffrey Wogenstahl is the first to be scheduled by the high court during O'Neill's tenure.
The staunch critic of the death penalty would not comment on whether he would dissent on all execution scheduling.
"While I recognize capital punishment is the law of the land, I cannot participate in what I consider to be a violation of the Constitution I have sworn to uphold," O'Neill wrote in his dissent.
Wogenstahl was found guilty of kidnapping Amber Garrett from her home in Harrison, Ohio, in 1991 before stabbing and beating her to death.
His execution was scheduled for May 14, 2015, in a 6-to-1 decision.
"If there exists a case that is appropriate for the imposition of the death sentence, this case clearly qualifies," O'Neill wrote in his dissent.
"There can be no disputing that this was a horrific act that is deserving of the strongest penalty possible."
But O'Neill, the high court's lone Democrat, says the death penalty is a violation of the Eighth Amendment, which protects citizens from cruel and unusual punishment.
Ohio State University law professor Douglas Berman found O'Neill's dissent to be compelling, but not out of bounds.
"Not only is he within his rights, but he feels it's obligatory based on his judicial oath to uphold the Constitution," Berman said.
Justice O'Neill's dissent in State v. Wogenstahl is available in Adobe .pdf format.
Fellow Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer has been outspoken in his calls to repeal capital punishment in Ohio and to provide a systemic review to all death sentences in the state. He has not, to date, called the penalty unconstitutional under the United States or Ohio constitutions, however. As a state legislator, Pfeifer authored the state's death penalty law.
Think Progress posts, "Ohio Supreme Court Justice: Death Penalty Is Inherently Cruel And Unusual," by Nicole Flatow.
A newly elected Ohio Supreme Court justice who achieved the unlikely feat of ousting an incumbent without accepting any campaign contributions is not wasting any time in asserting his opposition to the death penalty. In an order this week setting an execution date for a convicted murderer, Judge William O’Neill issued a strong dissent blasting capital punishment as “inherently cruel and unusual,” even in the most egregious cases.