Holder Steps In To End California Federal Death Penalty Case!

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

cross-posted from The Dream Antilles

Well, well, well.  Maybe, just maybe, somebody has been listening to all of the complaining.

Cal Law reports:

New Attorney General Eric Holder has authorized a deal that could abruptly end a rare San Francisco death penalty trial only days after it began.

Not only does Holder’s reversal likely spare defendant Emile Fort his life, but it may signal a less aggressive approach to the death penalty in federal court. And it vindicates the local U.S. attorney’s office: Months ago federal prosecutors in San Francisco had recommended a 40-year plea bargain for Fort to their higher-ups in Washington – only to be rebuffed by Holder’s predecessor, Michael Mukasey.

The jury heard opening statements Wednesday in the case against Fort, an alleged member of San Francisco’s Down Below Gang who’s accused of three murders. Yet when defense lawyers arrived in Northern District Judge William Alsup’s court Friday morning – expecting another day of witness testimony – federal prosecutors announced their decision to deal, said Michael Thorman, one of Fort’s attorneys.

Alsup dismissed the jury and scheduled a special hearing for today. The defendant had the weekend to decide whether he wants to plead out, and Thorman anticipated that he would.

There you go.  No more Washington directed death penalty trial.  Fort can plead to 41 years (40 plus no credit for 16 months in state custody), which, needless to say, is a huge and probably entirely appropriate sentence.  And the federal death penalty is off the table.  Just like that.

I’m applauding.  This is definitely a step in the right direction.  It’s a step toward abolition.

h/t for Sam Pratt


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  1. Join me in lifting a glass to Eric Holder for this decision.

    And, remember, it’s not too late to sign this petition to ask AG Holder to review all of the pending federal death penalty cases and to rescind the direction that the death penalty is to be sought.

  2. The death penalty exists in Federal law by statute, over which the AG has no control or authority.  How does prosecutorial discretion equate legislative action?

  3. stops the cycle of killing is good news. An eye for an eye vs violence begets violence. I’m starting to believe this administration walks what it talks. Hope this is a systemic approach to state violence including our humanity toward the rest of the world. Know nothing about this case but I hate capital punishment as all it does is try to elevate killing and punishment as a solution. Never a solution always a reinforcement of the evils it professes to fight. We’ve had enough killing from the state.

    Other good new’s that weirdly relates, The CEO of Xe formerly known as Blackwater, resigned today. Our outsource for killing is drying up. Viva the ACLU which now unleashed is also moving  the concepts of justice forward. The air is clearing it’s up to people to move the agenda of civilized state behavior forward. No drama Obama, may just the ticket for humanities return.    

  4. I signed.  

    Hopefully, it is an indication of different thinking on the issue and will result in different treatment and behavior.

    You have put much time and effort into all of this, so I know you must feel quite good about this outcome.  Let’s hope that each of the cases has a new review and a new determination as to treatment.

    Thank you for your efforts.

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