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Veteran Federal Judge Says Death Penalty Still Arbitrary and Too Costly

Brian Stull,
Senior Staff Attorney ,
ACLU Capital Punishment Project
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April 14, 2009

Reflecting on his 30 years as judge hearing death penalty cases on the U.S., Judge Boyce M. Martin, Jr. of the Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit wrote in an opinion released today (PDF) that capital punishment in this country remains “arbitrary, biased, and so fundamentally flawed at its very core that it is beyond repair.” Judge Martin went on to state: “The system’s deep flaws and high costs raise a simple but important question: is the death penalty worth what it costs us?” Citing empirical studies concerning the costs of the death penalty, Judge Martin then persuasively demonstrates that the costs of continuing to prop up this broken system are enormous and unsustainable.

His opinion is a concurrence in the Wiles v. Bagley case.

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