"Former Justice Stratton says she’s now opposed to death penalty," is by Alan Johnson in today's Columbus Dispatch.
In nearly three terms on the Ohio Supreme Court, former Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton sided with the majority most of the time when convicted murderers were put to death.
From 1996 through the end of last year, spanning the time Stratton was a justice on the court, Ohio executed 49 men by lethal injection.
But nearly six months after leaving the court, the Republican, now an attorney in private practice in Columbus, has changed her views.
Stratton yesterday told members of an Ohio Supreme Court task force reviewing administration of the death penalty that she didn’t have a strong feeling about capital punishment while serving on the court.
“I have evolved to where I don’t think the death penalty is effective,” she said in an interview. “I don’t have a moral inhibition ... Overall, it’s just not the best way to deal with it on a number of different levels.”
Stratton said she has long opposed executions involving mentally ill defendants, but she now opposes capital punishment in general because she doesn’t see it as a deterrent and victims’ families don’t gain the finality they seek when the murderer is put to death.
"Former Ohio Supreme Court justice now opposes death penalty, saying it doesn't deter crime," is the AP report, via the Daily Journal.
Stratton, now an attorney in private practice in Columbus, spoke Thursday to a state Supreme Court task force analyzing the effectiveness of Ohio's capital punishment law. The committee has examined racial bias in death penalty cases, ways to improve the legal representation of capital defendants and other topics. But it isn't debating whether the state should have the death penalty.
The former justice was asked to speak to the panel about her concerns with capital punishment in cases of mentally ill defendants.
Stratton told the panel she didn't have a strong overall opinion about the death penalty when she served on the court from 1996 through late last year. The state put 49 men to death by lethal injection during that time, the newspaper reported.
It's not uncommon for sitting judges to change their mind on the death penalty, and Stratton isn't the first Republican jurist in Ohio to have a change of heart on the issue.
Justice Paul Pfeifer, who helped write Ohio's death penalty law three decades ago when he was a young state senator, has argued for its end since early 2011 and called for the state to stop using capital punishment.
Also from AP, "Ohio death penalty task force continues work," via the Martins Ferry Times Leader.
The committee that convened Thursday in Columbus has examined everything from racial bias in death penalty cases to ways to improve the legal representation of capital defendants.
Chairman James Brogan, a retired appeals court judge, has said he expects two reports from the committee, one from a majority backing recommendations, the other from a minority of members with different views.
Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor convened the task force while making it clear it won't debate whether the state should have the death penalty.
The group includes judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and academic experts.
Earlier coverage of the Ohio task force begins at the link. The Joint Task Force to Review the Administration of Ohio's Death Penalty website has additional information and future meeting dates.
More on Justice Pfeifer's break with capital punishment is also available.