Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Va.'s McDonnell, ABA differ on death penalty

The lawyers group wants a moratorium on U.S. executions

Tuesday, Oct 30, 2007 - 12:09 AM


Virginia's attorney general disagrees with the American Bar Association's renewed call for a nationwide moratorium on executions.

An ABA study found state death-penalty systems are "deeply flawed," leading the lawyers group yesterday to renew its call for a moratorium.

"We disagree with the study," said J. Tucker Martin, spokesman for the office of Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell. "We have the utmost respect for the American Bar Association, but the death penalty is constitutional. The system works."

The study reviewed how capital punishment operates in eight states, not including Virginia. It "reveals that there is still quite widespread concern about the fairness of capital-punishment adjudication and sentencing practices across the country," said Richard J. Bonnie, a law professor at the University of Virginia.

Executions appear to have ground to a halt nationally since Sept. 25, the day the Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge from a Kentucky death-row inmate on the constitutionality of the lethal-injection procedures used there.

There have been 98 executions in Virginia since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.

Contact Tom Campbell at (804) 649-6416 or tcampbel@timesdispatch.com.

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