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Showing posts from May, 2005

The Death Penalty Debate After Ross

Serial killer Michael Ross said – and he was right – that a debate on the death penalty could not properly begin so long as he was alive. Connecticut, after much needless soul-searching, executed Ross on May 13, 2005, a Friday the 13th as it serendipitously happened.

The chief obstacle to a rational discussion of the death penalty having been removed, nothing but the prejudices of the disputants now stands in the way of a cleansing debate on the issue. There are prejudices on both sides of the pro and con barricades. Positions already have hardened.

Two important questions must be decided before we can have a rational debate on the issue. The first question is: Should the issue itself turn on broad ethical or religious principles, or should it be decided with reference to particular circumstances?

If the issue is to be decided on broad ethical or religious principles, can we admit exceptions without, in effect, abolishing the guiding principle we are asserting? Cardinal Newman, the great…

To Compromise or Not to Compromise: That Is the Question

Republicans were said to be surprised by Governor Jodi Rell’s unilateral decision not to contest a Democrat proposal to raise the minimum wage from $7.10 to $7.40 next year and to $7.65 in 2007. Yet some Republican Party stalwarts, presumed to be more conservative than the run of the mill majority Democrats, conceded that Rell’s decision may have been strategically proper.

Governors, so the reasoning goes, are not legislators. Though Rell is the titular head of her party, as governor she must negotiate with a legislature dominated by Democrats and therefore must carefully pick and choose her battles. In the matter of the minimum wage, she chose to throw in the white flag before rhetorical hostilities commenced in order to save her powder for other more important occasions.

Asked whether her party was disturbed by her early retreat from a position once routinely defended on principle, Rell responded, “I don’t know of any tension, trust me.”

The uncomplaining acceptance of Rell’s decisi…

Has The Fat Lady Sung

Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney Harry Weller has argued in a brief he submitted to Connecticut’s Supreme Court that “Special counsel Thomas Groark cannot prosecute an appeal in the seemingly interminable Michael Ross case because “he is not a party” to ongoing litigation. Groark’s petition, therefore, “is inappropriate, unprecedented and should not be countenanced by this court.”

Groark is petitioning Connecticut’s Supreme Court to review a decision made by Superior Court Judge Patrick Clifford following an unprecedented hearing during which Clifford ruled that Michael Ross was mentally capable of deciding to forgo further appeals in his case.

The hearing was unprecedented because a “final” decision on the matter of Ross’ competence had been made both by Connecticut’s highest court and the U.S. Supreme Court.

These decisions were artfully subverted by Chief U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny.

Hours before Ross was to be executed, Chatigny convened a questionable teleconfere…