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March 29, 2007

The power of the personal

I was certainly moved by the stories of Ohio exonerees Gary Beeman and Dale Johnston, and I trust everyone else was, too.  If folks want to express reactions or other thoughts, feel free to use the comments.  (My own first thought was that I should have had the good sense to formally invite Governor Strickland and Attorney General Dann to attend.)

Both Dale and Gary gave me their contact information, which they encouraged me to share with students.  In addition, Julie Przybysz gave me a binder with lots of information from Ohioians to Stop Executions (OTSE) that I am happy to copy for anyone interested.

March 29, 2007 in Ohio news and commentary | Permalink


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I think that listening to the 2 exonerees was a fantastic opportunity. It reminds me why it is so important that we get it right, why I like working in criminal defense, and how resilient the human spirit is. I highly suggest that this class be repeated in future Death Penalty classes if possible. And also, I can hardly believe that the one gentleman DEFENDED himself - and won! He saved his own life. Amazing. I just can't help but think a Defendant would have a hard time today ever getting a judge to grant motions in his favor to secure access to law books, an extra cell for his materials, etc. Judges seem so pro-prosecution; I hardly feel they ever even read some of the defense's motions.

Posted by: Caitlin C | Apr 3, 2007 5:12:01 PM

Building on Caitlin's comment, I thought it was interesting that Mr. Johnston said that he believed that LWOP is a more just punishment than the death penalty. I wonder, though, given our acceptance of the "death is different" argument, whether or not it was the very fact that these men were facing death (the ultimate punishment) that allowed them to win the chance to have their appeals heard. If the two exonerees had not been sentenced to death, would the court have been as willing to hear their arguments? I'm certainly not advocating that we should maintain the use of the death penalty just so that the possibility of its imposition can scare courts into detailed review of the case, but I wonder if the two exonerees would have been heard in court (and subsequently exonerated) had they not been facing death.

Posted by: Kacey | Apr 3, 2007 8:23:56 PM

I've nothing really to add except to say that hearing both of those men speak was incredibly gut-wrenching. I was sitting there the whole time realizing how easy it would be for any of us to end up in that type of situation. Also, I was thinking about those other individuals on death row who may be exactly like Gary and Dale (innocent). That's just a scary thought.

Posted by: Jeff M. | Apr 3, 2007 11:08:52 PM

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