Death Penalty Uncategorized

Los Angeles DA Refuses to Break From Death Penalty Despite CA Moratorium

Taylor Walker
Written by Taylor Walker

More than three months after California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a moratorium on the death penalty and dismantled the state’s execution chamber, Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s office has continued to seek the death penalty in certain murder cases. In fact, during the last five years, LA County has been responsible for more death sentences per capita than any other large county in Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, or Washington.

Between 2014 and 2018, LA, neighboring Riverside, and Maricopa, Arizona were the only three counties in the nation that sentenced more than 10 people to death per year. And 31 percent of California’s more than 700 prisoners on death row were sentenced to die in Los Angeles. (The state has not executed anyone since 2006 due to lethal injection protocol problems.)

“Not only confusing, Lacey’s continued usage of the death penalty at new trials is downright wrong,” the ACLU of Southern California says in a new white paper.

“Lacey’s office continues to seek the death penalty in the face of unmistakable evidence that the practice disproportionately affects Black and brown people and people without access to quality counsel,” said Jessica Farris, director of criminal justice at the ACLU SoCal. “DA Lacey holds the power to immediately end death sentences in L.A. County. We hope she will.”

Since Lacey took office as Los Angeles County’s District Attorney in December 2012, 22 people have been sentenced to death in LA County, the ACLU says. None have been white. Thirteen of the people sentenced to death were Latinx, eight were black, and one person was Asian.

While just 12 percent of all homicide victims in LA County are white, 36 percent of the death penalty cases pursued under DA Lacey’s watch have had at least one white victim.

LA’s capital cases are also plagued by “inadequate defense counsel,” the report says.

Nine of the 22 people for whom LA prosecutors have secured death sentences were represented by lawyers who have alarming professional records. Either before or after representing their clients, five lawyers were disbarred or suspended for serious violations. Two other attorneys were put on probation, and another is reportedly currently facing “multiple bar charges.” The final attorney failed to give any defense during the guilt phase of the trial, and instead, frequently fell asleep in court, according to the white paper. In another case, a defendant chose to represent himself, and did not present any evidence.

Just three of the 22 defendants were represented by public defenders trained to provide counsel in capital cases. The rest (besides the man who represented himself) had private lawyers. “In Los Angeles, private appointed lawyers may have an incentive to work against their clients’ interests: they are guaranteed payment of their full fee only if they take the case to trial, which may discourage them from seeking life-saving plea bargains for their clients.”

When Governor Newsom announced the moratorium on capital punishment, he called the death penalty system a “failure” that has “wasted billions of taxpayer dollars,” and is “absolute, irreversible and irreparable in the event of a human error.”

And human errors do occur. Since 1981, five men–all people of color– have been exonerated after spending years on death row.

Moreover, the ACLU said, “Los Angelenos have repeatedly and overwhelmingly rejected the death penalty” when it has landed on their ballots.

“LA County is an example of everything wrong with the death penalty,” said Cassandra Stubbs, director of the Capital Punishment Project at the ACLU. “Abysmal defense lawyering, geographic disparities, and racial bias are the legacy of its unfair and discriminatory use of the death penalty.”

The DA, Stubbs says, “should take a step forward for racial justice and help end America’s failed experiment with the death penalty by announcing she will no longer tolerate death penalty cases under her watch.”

11 Comments

  • What you mean is that despite the voice of the people of California being heard via Propositions 62 (to continue with executions) and 66 (to speed up executions) Governor Newsom doesn’t give a damn what we said, and he has decided to unilaterally impose his wild-eyed, radical, liberal world-view and stop executions.

    So, a DA refusing to recognize this unilateral “moratorium” and actually protect the people by enforcing the law should not surprise anybody.

  • I’ve always supported the death penalty because of it’s proven effectiveness as a deterrent. Joseph DeAngelo (the Golden State Killer) is a good example. Implicated in dozens of rapes and murders over decades, his MO was to wait until his victim was alone with her children, break in, tie up the children and repeatedly rape the mother over several hours. After raping his victims, he would often bludgeon them to death.

    If Mr. DeAngelo were put to death, there’s a 100% chance he would be deterred from raping or killing any more people.

    For those who say a death sentence is more costly than a life term, let’s reform and streamline the process. WHY we house, feed, clothe and provide comfort to monsters decades after their horrendous crimes is beyond me.

  • My hats off to DA Lacey. In light of the two senses, high profile killings of police officers in the state her stance is laudable though toothless. The governor used his power to go against the will of the voters and abolish the death penalty in the state. Even though he may have a personal issue with the death penalty he is one man, and we live in a democracy.

    The danger in having a predatory psychopath remain among the living is the simple fact he/she still posses a risk to the prison workers and the public. It’s like having a caged, rabid animal locked away who has absolutely nothing to loose and discipline is non-existent. These predators can escape, kill again, rape, assault and be charged again, and again and again for others crimes with the courts handing out “shock factor” sentences such as “100” year and “life” sentences. Big deal!

    Though there have been and will be mistakes for those being wrongly convicted, there are those instances where you literally have a “smoking gun” proving the person is guilty. In those cases, just as they robbed someone and their family of a life and future, so should they forfeit their life and future.

  • My hat’s off to DA Lacey. In light of the two senseless, high profile killings of police officers in the state, her stance is laudable though symbolic. The governor used his power to go against the will of the voters and abolish the death penalty in the state. Even though he may have a personal issue with the death penalty, he is one man and we do live in a democracy. As they say, if you want change and to have your voices heard go out and vote. Well the people did and the governor nullified it.

    The danger in having a predatory psychopath remain amongst the living is the simple fact he/she still posses a safety risk to the prison workers and the public. It’s like having a caged, rabid animal locked away who has absolutely nothing to loose, coupled with the fact discipline is non-existent. These predators can escape, kill again, rape, assault and be charged again, and again and again. They can be tried again for others crimes with the courts handing out “shock factor” sentences such as “100” year and “life” sentences on top of their life sentence. Big deal!

    Though there have been, and will be mistakes for those being wrongly convicted. However, there are those instances where you literally have a “smoking gun” proving the person is guilty. In those cases, just as they robbed someone and their family of a life and future, so should they forfeit their life and future.

  • Gentlemen, I hope you will join me in supporting former officer Gascon when he comes back to LA and run against DA Lazy. As fellow officers, I assume you will support your former colleague. Its hard to find officers who can think outside (actually just think) the box and see the bigger issues instead of having this simpleton mentality of seeing the world in black and white that so often pervades our uniformed brethren. Perhaps that is why he left the force. Will he be able to count on your support?

    • cf:

      “Will he be able to count on your support?”

      Probably not because, I believe, he is aiming for State Attorney-General, not D.A. of L.A. County and because he is obviously holding his finger in the air measuring the direction the Liberal winds are blowing.

      Where they blow he will go; thus, no support from down here.

    • Cf is a perfect example of your basic white female liberal. They’ll go for the slick white guy politician over the real thing every time. Cf loves to signal her hatred for cops but she’s still attracted to the white guy ex cop so much she’s ready to attack the black lady from Crenshaw. Wonder why there are so many white guys at the top of the Democrat’s race for the presidential nomination? Cf is a perfect example.

  • Perfect timing for the next election.

    The death penalty in the state of California is a joke whether you’re for it or against it, as most on death row will die of natural causes before they are executed.

    Jackie Lacy knows this also so at least if nothing else, she’s making a stand with brownie points for reelection.

    I believe in the death penalty for undisputed sentencing but let’s face it, it ain’t happening in California.

    The anti ICE sentiment by Sheriff Villanueva definitely help seal the deal for his election along with the posters of Trump, Sessions and McDonnell proving that all is fair in love, war and elections. It worked.

  • Ah, so unlike the ACLU, our integrity and principle-challenged Governor and his State Attorney General, and all the other so-called leaders deeply involved in their culture and practice of pandering for votes, Los Angeles County D. A. Jackie Lacey won’t join in the pursuit of popularity. We are living in an era of bizarre behavior by our government office holders. They are espousing and legislating the reduction of felonies to misdemeanors. We thus see thousands of inmates being released back into society to further pray and victimize law-abiding citizens. Office holders are laying out the red carpet welcome mat for those who would violate our laws to come here illegally and then shower them with billions of dollars worth of free stuff, paid for by the California taxpayer. These office holders apparently have absolutely no reservations about frequently raising taxes on the legal citizens of this state. Jackie Lacey is at the very least, a glimmer of hope.

  • Not wanting to draw a comparison, but DA Lacey maintains a practical and principled view of her responsibilities as the DA, who represents the people in the judicial system. Unlike her northern California woman of color counterpart, [WLA edit–with prejudice] DA Lacey has relied on her own merits, knowledge and work ethic.

    Hopefully, she will run for higher office in the state someday. The state legislature had been corrupted and perverted too long by Northern California Democratic progressive elitist liberals.

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