For Immediate Release For Information Contact
October 17, 2006 Celeste
Fitzgerald - 973-635-6396 (
DEATH PENALTY OPPONENTS TAKE ARGUMENT
TO STATE SUPREME COURT
Group tells Justices that system is unconstitutional;
“gross disparity” in how counties handle capital cases
Trenton -- New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (“NJADP”), a statewide grassroots organization with over 10,000 members, today told the New Jersey Supreme that there is “gross disparity” in how New Jersey’s counties treat capital cases, and that the State’s death penalty system is unacceptably “arbitrary and irrational” due to county variability. It further argued that the current system disproportionately subjects to the death penalty those offenders in smaller, non-urban counties who have killed white victims.
NJADP urged the Court to find the State’s death penalty unconstitutional or, at the very least, to agree with the Public Defender and Attorney General that the Court should defer decision on this matter until the ongoing Legislative Study Commission on the Death Penalty has rendered its report to the Legislature and the Legislature has had an opportunity to take action on the Commission’s recommendations.
“The evidence is clear that, in
“Fundamental principles of fairness
and justice require that death sentences should not be determined by
arbitrary factors such as geographic boundaries. The existence of these troubling realities is further proof that the
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Today’s hearing at the Supreme Court was scheduled following submission of the Systemic Proportionality Review for 2005, an annual study conducted by Retired Appellate Division Judge David S. Baime, who was appointed Special Master in charge of Proportionality Review of capital cases by the Supreme Court in 1999. Both Judge Baime and NJADP filed subsequent reports with the Court. Presenting oral argument for NJADP was Claudia Van Wyk of the law firm of Gibbons, Del Deo, Dolan, Griffinger & Vecchione, P.C.
In his Special Report to the Supreme Court on Reactions to the 2004-2005 Systemic Proportionality Review Project Report dated July 10, 2006, Judge Baime made clear that county variability is a “key factor” in determining whether a defendant faces death.
its Comments filed with the Court on June 14, 2006, NJADP stated, “The time has
come to conclude that
NJADP has campaigned since 1999 for
an end to the death penalty in
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