Monday, October 22, 2007

And I think to myself; "What a wonderful world."

This past summer, two capital-murder inmates were put to death after curious court policies failed them. Luther Williams's execution was carried out in Alabama in August after the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to stop it, despite his plea that the state's lethal injection procedure was unconstitutional. However, one month later, the Court voted to accept for consideration another case questioning the constitutionality of the injection. (Court policy is that four votes are needed to accept a case, but five are required to stay an execution.) In September, just minutes after the Court's lethal- injection case was accepted, lawyers for Michael Richard, who was scheduled to die that evening, rushed to file a stay with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeal and promised delivery by 5:20 p.m. The court clerk responded, "We close at five"; the petition didn't make it; and Richard was executed at 8:23.

Much as I hate to admit it, sometimes bureaucracy can be a beautiful thing.


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