Thursday, August 30, 2007


Veteran Judge Criticizes the Death Penalty

In an article in today's Los Angeles Times, a California federal judge of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals says that a heavy backlog and other dysfunction makes the capital punishment system in California very problematic. Judge Arthur L. Alarcon is a veteran judge and also a supporter of the death penalty, but unlike some other critics, does not blame the backlog in the system on frivolous appeals filed by defense lawyers or liberal judges. Instead, he cites a shortage of defense attorneys, mostly because of a lack of compensation, as well as an inefficient use of judicial resources.

Citing a recent 9th Circuit court case, Judge Alcaron states that a lawyer was paid $540 an hour to represent an insolvent company while the hourly rate of court-appointed attorneys in capital cases is $140 an hour. Judge Alcaron continues, "I would be hard-pressed to explain to a bartender or a non-lawyer acquaintance how it is appropriate that an appellate lawyer who is attempting to save a human being's life is compensated at the rate of $140 per hour while the same lawyer could receive as much as $540 per hour to represent an insolvent corporation in bankruptcy proceedings" Read the whole article here
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