by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A new letter today from top Republican legislative leaders amplifies a recent plea to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein.
The following comes from a legislative news release:
Legislative Leaders: On Death Penalty, Stein and Cooper’s ‘Actions – Or Rather Inactions – Speak Louder Than Words’
Stein, Cooper will have opportunity to present plans to restart death penalty
Raleigh, N.C. – On Thursday, Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) wrote Gov. Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein the following letter:
Dear Gov. Cooper and Attorney General Stein:
As you know, last week we called on you to take action to restart the death penalty in North Carolina after Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble announced he is pursuing capital punishment against four inmates charged with the first-degree murder of three state correctional officers and a prison rehabilitative work program manager. In light of the prosecutor’s decision, we again urge you to take swift action to make certain, should a jury sentence these men to death, that those sentences can be carried out.
We read with interest Governor Cooper’s spokeswoman’s response that, “Capital punishment remains the law of the state, and Governor Cooper has a long history of upholding it,” and Attorney General Stein’s spokeswoman’s response that he plans to “uphold the law in North Carolina.”
Respectfully, actions – or rather inactions – speak louder than words.
In your capacities as attorneys general, have you taken any serious action to fast-track the legal proceedings to ensure that the victims’ families can see justice served, especially since the federal constitutional claims raised in the Wake County case have already been adjudicated in other states all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court?
If not, and you failed as attorneys general to take proactive, significant legal action against a judge’s injunction against capital punishment in 2007 and the resulting de-facto moratorium, then that amounts to opposition to the death penalty – the law in North Carolina.
But it is not too late for you to finally help resolve the legal obstacles to restarting North Carolina’s death penalty and deliver the justice our courts promised victims’ families.
Attorney General Stein, we look forward to hearing the legal steps you plan to take to get the death penalty restarted in North Carolina – including whether you will simply ask the trial court how and when it intends to proceed – at an upcoming meeting of the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations. And Governor Cooper, please be prepared to describe how your Department of Public Safety will act decisively to end this long-running moratorium.
We look forward to hearing from you.