Saturday, 5 April 2008

Costs grind New Mexico's capital punishment system to a halt

Costs grind New Mexico's capital punishment system to a halt

A helpful reader pointed me to this intriguing news from the Death Penalty Information Center's website:

In a potentially far reaching ruling, a trial judge in New Mexico has barred the state from seeking the death penalty because the legislature has failed to provide adequate funding for defense representation. The state's Attorney General, Gary King, agreed that the capital prosecution cannot go forward. After finding that funding for the defense was insufficient and raised constitutional problems, King wrote, "The state now confesses the motion to dismiss filed herein and cannot in good faith under these circumstances oppose the dismissal of the death penalty in these cases." State District Judge Neil Candelaria took the death penalty off the table for Reis Lopez and Robert Young, two inmates accused of killing a prison guard, because no money was appropriated for death penalty indigent defense during New Mexico’s 2008 Legislative Session, despite a unanimous warning from the state Supreme Court. The legislative session ended in February....

The court's ruling and the agreement by the Attorney General may mean that no further death penalty prosecutions can proceed in New Mexico without legislative action.

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