Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Good Move, Gov. Warner

In its afternoon update for Tuesday the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported: "Gov. Mark R. Warner said this morning the clemency petition from death row inmate Robin Lovitt has been the most difficult he has considered. Warner has let all 11 prior executions during his administration proceed."

Then later in the evening came this from the Associated Press: "Virginia's governor on Tuesday spared the life of a convicted killer who would have been the 1,000th person executed in the United States since the Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume in 1976."

Gov. Mark Warner had to step in to stop this execution. OK, as a presumed candidate for president he hardly needed this. But as Virginia's governor, he still has a duty to make things right when he can. It didn’t matter whether Lovitt deserved to suffer the penalty his trial’s verdict set for him. What mattered is the justice system cheated Lovitt, however you slice it.

Warner, not an opponent of capital punishment, has proven he has no desire to undo the wisdom of the Commonwealth's judges or juries. Still, you know Warner's opponents will say he's a wimp because he stepped in. In the short run, of course they will try to make him look soft on crime, etc. This was a call that will be slammed, studied and cheered by folks who really don't care two whits about fairness.

Fine. Was it the right call? Yes.

"'The commonwealth must ensure that every time this ultimate sanction is carried out, it is done fairly,' Warner said in a statement, according to AP. 'However, evidence in Mr. Lovitt's trial was destroyed by a court employee, before post-conviction DNA tests could be done. The actions of an agent of the commonwealth, in a manner contrary to the express direction of the law, comes at the expense of a defendant facing society's most severe and final sanction.'"


curmudgeon said...

The death penalty is never the right move. Execution is revenge killing pure and simple and does nothing to discourage violent crime. It places the state on the same level as the murderer. Lifetime in prison without parol doing hard labor is a more just sentence. Warner of course, has no qualms about killing prisoners when it helps his poll numbers

Triscula said...

Which killings helped Warner's poll numbers?