Kentucky lawyers asked Gov. Beshear to stop executions until the American Bar Association can review the commonwealth’s death penalty system
On the same day that Attorney General Jack Conway asked Gov. Steve Beshear to double the amount of people Kentucky has executed since 1973, 14 other prominent attorneys–including Kennedy Helm III, the managing partner of Beshear’s former law firm–asked the governor to halt executions pending the American Bar Association’s review of the commonwealth’s death penalty system.
From today’s Louisville Courier-Journal:
Gov. Steve Beshear has been asked to halt all executions until a 10-member team of state lawyers and former judges recently appointed by the American Bar Association can assess Kentucky’s flawed death-penalty system.
The request, sent in letters Monday to Beshear and Attorney General Jack Conway by two of the state’s top public defenders and a dozen Kentucky lawyers, came the same day as Conway asked the governor to set execution dates for three death-row inmates.
Neither Beshear nor Conway indicated Monday that they would grant the request for a moratorium.
According to the Courier-Journal,
The ABA says the focus of the Kentucky study will, like those in the other states, be a dozen areas of death-penalty administration, including the adequacy of training for prosecutors and defense lawyers, the preservation and testing of DNA evidence, law-enforcement interrogation and identification procedures, the appeals process, clemency proceedings, jury instructions, the treatment of racial and ethnic minorities and mental retardation and mental illness.
Similar studies in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee found compliance problems in every state with a wide range of ABA policies.
While not involved in the ABA’s assessment, the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty welcomes its review. As the Lexington Herald-Leader noted, “According to statistics provided by the Department of Public Advocacy, of the 50 capital cases reviewed by Kentucky Supreme Court and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, 42 of those murder cases have been reversed.”
That data supports one of KCADP’s main reasons for abolishing the death penalty in Kentucky: it’s too broken to fix.