Thursday, February 19, 2015

Pennsylvania: A Contested Reprieve

Reuters reports that a prosecutor has gone to court "to try to block Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf's temporary reprieve of a convicted murderer who is set to be executed on March 4." Indeed, the prosecutor says, Governor Wolf's reprieve of Terrance Williams "is unconstitutional, illegal and should be declared null and void." Reuters reports:
In his petition filed on Wednesday, the prosecutor said Pennsylvania law restricts pardon-granting power to the Board of Pardons. "Unlike some states, Pennsylvania does not grant the governor at-will power to issue a moratorium or pardon or commute any sentence of death or punishment," the prosecutor said in a statement. By granting a reprieve, the governor effectively negated "a death sentence authorized by the General Assembly, imposed by a jury, and subject to exhaustive judicial review over a period of decades," the prosecutor said in his petition. "The constitutional role of the Governor is to execute the law, not sabotage it," he said in the petition.part of the governor's recent moratorium on the death penalty. 
Williams was sentenced to death for the 1984 murder. At the time of the offense, he was 18 years old. The Governor's office responds by noting: "Pursuant to Article 4, Section 9 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, Governor Wolf has the power to grant reprieves" - which sounds like a home run to us! See full story here.

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