Daily Archives: July 5, 2007

Death penalty hearing concludes

Somehow I missed this, but the special hearing into the arbitrariness of the application of the death penalty in CT concluded last month, with the last of the State’s Attorneys testifying.

The hearing began in February and concluded Thursday with the calling of Fairfield State’s Attorney Jonathan Benedict.

Like the other 11 top prosecutors, Benedict testified that the only written guideline about the death penalty is the state statute that spells out the specific instances allowing for death penalty prosecution.

Benedict – whose subpoena had expired but who agreed to testify anyway without being compelled – also testified that he has discretion on when to seek the death penalty, as opposed to life in prison, in a capital case.

“The ultimate decision is mine, as a state’s attorney,” Benedict said.

Benedict’s testimony took less than 10 minutes.

My memory is a little different from that of the author of the news story. Benedict did testify in line with 10 of the other State’s Attorneys, but the Waterbury State’s Attorney John Connelly testified earlier that he did not have discretion to seek the death penalty. From my previous post:

Connelly said he does not have a choice not to pursue a capital case. “That’s a misuse of discretion. … If you have the evidence and you don’t seek it, I think a state’s attorney would be abusing that discretion.”

The question, of course, is the Constitutionality of this prosecutorial discretion in seeking the death penalty. 5 out of the 8 inmates currently on death row were prosecuted in Waterbury.

There will be a verdict in Jesse Campbell’s matter soon, though:

[Judge] Mullarkey asked [public defenders Ron] Gold and [David] Smith and prosecutor Vicki Melchiorre and her co-prosecutor, Dennis J. O’Connor, if they were prepared to conclude the proceeding with arguments on the motion, but the defense asked for more time to prepare briefs to support their arguments.

O’Connor said the state won’t be filing any additional briefs in response to the motion.

Mullarkey ordered briefs to be filed by July 12, and set July 19 for a final hearing on the motion, when he may rule on the defense request to impose a life sentence.

The defense team, which now also includes capital specialist Michael K. Courtney, has filed additional motions but no hearing date was set.

Get set for a verdict soon and perhaps an appeal regarding the Constitutionality of the application of Connecticut’s death penalty statute.

Previous coverage:

Since we last spoke

A day late, but still: Happy 4th! I’m still a bit under the weather, so no new posts from me. There is stuff I want to post about, so maybe I’ll have the energy later on. In the meantime, here are posts to read:

  • Trial Ad Notes points to a new resource for the trial lawyer: Cross-Examination: Science and Techniques.
  • SexCrimes brings us a Ninth Circuit decision that holds applying retroactively the California evidence rule which allows admission of prior sexual misconduct evidence does not violate the Ex Post Facto clause.
  • CDW has its usual excellent roundup of news.
  • Fight ‘Em has this post about caseload comparisons.
  • the imbroglio blogs about an odd problem: Prosecutors making less than public defenders and clamoring for more resources.
  • Petition for Review experiences the common frustration: clients filing pro-se motions.
  • Mark Bennett has made full use of the day off and has a bazillion posts. Yet, no quality is sacrificed.
  • Anne Reed chimes in on the “Juries get it wrong in 13% of cases” study.

I will say one thing: I was deeply disappointed that Independence Day was not shown on TV yesterday.