SCOTUS Clears The Way For The First Federal Execution In 17 Years
The Supreme Court ruled that the first federal executions in 17 years can be carried out after a U.S. District Judge had originally blocked four inmates from being executed. Attorney Paul Harding of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP is on PYX106, and provides some insight on the death penalty at the federal level.
Please give it a listen or read the transcript below.
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Male 2: Oh, my God.
Paul: That’s what we are, yes.
Male 2: How are you doing, Paul?
Paul: I stood up for him. Yeah, I did. Yes.
Male 1: Thank you.
Male 2: I stood up for him.
Male 1: Somebody had to.
Male 2: So we were gonna have you on yesterday, and it just didn’t work out and probably for the best because the news got confusing. We wanted to ask you what’s up with this federal death penalty that was suspended because the family couldn’t get there because of coronavirus, but then by the time, we didn’t have on…
Male 1: 2 a.m. when they flexed…
Male 2: …they already executed the guy.
Paul: I know.
Male 2: So what’s going on with the federal death penalty, Paul?
Paul: Things move quickly in death penalty cases so, you know, who knew? Yeah, so we’ve got this first time in 17 years that there’s been a carrying out of a federal execution. Now there’s lots of people on what they call death row federally, but this is the first time that it’s kind of they fired up the lethal injection, and so yeah, it looked like it was gonna be just one of those postponements, and then who knew?
Male 1: We should say this guy deserved it. This guy. This specific guy deserved it.
Male 2: Well, that’s…
Male 1: He killed a family, he’s a white supremacist.
Male 2: No, I understand, but there are people like that. I think I may be anti-death penalty. I really struggle with that one.
Male 1: I have a hard time with it too, but wait until it’s to your family. That’s what I tell myself, you know.
Male 2: No, I get it. So what do they do? They waive the…or they go ahead and go forward with the execution?
Paul: Yeah. So they were attempting to, as you say, to say, “Look, the family can’t be there. There’s certain things, protocols,” and they just… Supreme Court just said, “No, it’s gonna go ahead,” you know, just hours after it was a stay. But the whole death penalty argument is tricky. I mean, the finality of it, right? You can’t go back and recover new evidence and say, “Oh, yeah,” right? You know, that’s always the fear. And then the question, is there an Eighth Amendment violation cruel and unusual punishment, right? So if you look back historically, you’ve got, you know, hanging, you’d have, you know, the last public hanging, who knew, was 1936. I just happened to look it up last night when I was kind of preparing to talk today, but so ’36 was a public hanging. But you know, we’ve seen things, you know, that the electric chair as always will kind of probably makes most motion pictures when they talk about things gone by, but not even through injecting…
Male 1: Firing squads even, right?
Paul: There was firing squad not that long ago, you know. They sort of stopped that because of the effect on the people who were firing the guns, right? [crosstalk 00:02:32.871]
Male 1: Right. They couldn’t figure a healthy way to do it.
Male 2: But Paul, so states have been executing people, but the federal government hasn’t done it in 17 years. What was the hang-up, or what is the hang-up?
Paul: Yeah, the hang-up was that they just took a look at it federally because we’ve got 28 states who do currently have the death penalty. And so that’s been happening, you know. And just in 2018, there were 28 people, some version of that, that were executed statewide. Some states don’t have it, New York being one, right? There hasn’t been a death here, an execution, since 1963. Although we do have capital punishment so you can be convicted of a capital punishment crime, but you don’t get executed so they got to work on that.
Male 1: Like the Golden State killer, you know, he’s not gonna get…he’s not gonna be executed. That’s the kind of guy you think would be executed.
Male 2: Right. But it’s a philosophical debate. On an individual level I can [crosstalk 00:03:27.220]…
Male 1: It’s just what the country wants to live in. I understand, yeah.
Male 2: Right. And Paul’s point too is like, you know, God forbid there’s new evidence comes up what are you gonna… [crosstalk 00:03:34.550]?
Male 1: Exactly, exactly.
Male 2: And this is fun, right? Death penalty and coffee this morning. This is a good time.
Male 1: Oh, God, Paul.
Paul: It’s just a real picker-upper, yeah.
Male 1: You want to deep dive on the cruel unusual punishment, fellas?
Male 2: Maybe next week.
Male 1: Okay, good.
Male 2: On a lighter note, Paul, have you had the chance to see “Hamilton” yet?
Male 1: It nearly puts behind the conversation.
Paul: Well, you know, I did get to see it, I was fortunate. I just bit the bullet and went down to Broadway and I did get to catch it there. And I saw it twice actually, and I can sing most…I could sing most songs so I don’t know if you ever want to work into…work that into the show. A huge stand.
Male 2: I would love that. That guy who played Aaron Burr who went to Tony, I thought, was incredible, incredible.
Male 1: I will pay you whatever your hourly rate is, Paul. I’m just giving away money this morning.
Male 2: Just to not talk.
Male 1: No, no. To sing, I want him to sing. I want to hear Paul sing.
Paul: “My Shot,” I gotta prepare for… You know “My Shot” is probably is my favorite Hamilton.
Male 2: Me too.
Paul: But yeah, I could just sing that up.
Male 1: I have no idea. Is that a good one?
Male 2: Paul and I only got one shot, right, Paul?
Paul: That’s it, that’s all you have left.
Male 2: No. no. He’s not gonna miss this shot, right? Isn’t that it?
Male 1: 1800law1010, 1800law1010.com. You know, maybe we’ll revisit this 17 years from now.
Male 2: Reach out to the capital end’s only singing attorney…
Male 1: There you go.
Male 2: …Paul Harding.
Male 1: Thanks, Paul.
Male 2: Thanks, Paul.
Paul: Okay, guys, bye-bye.
Male 1: See you, pal.