Skip to main content

tv   Book TV After Words  CSPAN  April 13, 2013 10:00pm-11:00pm EDT

10:00 pm
10:01 pm
up next on booktv "after words" with guest host kimberly tignor the national bar association at the sukie and policy counsel. abc news veteran martin clancy and tim o'brien and their books up for lethal crimes and landmark cases. and if they examine the capital punishment cases that they say define the parameters in order to uphold the death penalty on appeal. the program is about an hour. >> host: i wanted to talk to you both, the topic matter and the focus and the title is important and the important dialogue going on in the u.s.. the first question i really want to ask you is what prompted you to write this book? was a prompted by a particular
10:02 pm
experience? >> guest: we found with so many cases in the supreme court everybody focuses on the legal issues, as they should at the stories behind the legal issues are compelling. they are for net -- fascinating and that is particularly true with death penalty cases. we found what happened before the crime and what happened during the crime and what happened before the court's decision, how the court decided and also after the court's decision what happened was fascinating. >> guest: the more we dug in behind the decisions -- this book takes you from the scene of the crime right into the supreme court conference to many of those cases and through the repercussions. >> guest: we are storytellers. >> host: absolutely. >> guest: we have stories to tell in the most important thing about writing a book is having something to say. here we had landmark decisions, tough decisions. 10 of the 15 cases we focus on split the supreme court 5-4 and
10:03 pm
in the stories surrounding the decisions. they read like novels we think. >> host: i completely agree. i think one of the quotes that i found that i especially liked was from a former congressman jim c.o.i.n. and it said it's a little hard to believe that you have a nonfiction book that you can't put down and i thought it was especially appropriate because i feel like this luck is different from a lot of nonfiction works that i have read in that it really does read like a thriller. it really does take the discussion ended in jack's humanity side to it. >> guest: in addition to telling great stories we would like to think it's an important book that essentially tells you how the court works. there are so few good looks out there that describes what they are saying to one another. we see these decisions split in
10:04 pm
the court 5-4. what did they think? of the book matches about capital punishment about how the court operates. >> guest: when you dig into the notes of the library of congress the memoranda and the notes back and forth between justices that are available and a lot of that stuff is available, i'm not a lawyer. i was just fascinated by the human side of it. in many cases justices, you can see justices have reservations about capital punishment. >> guest: the story about willie francis and martin you did a lot of research on that case personally. >> guest: could a state make a second attempt at an execution? when you take back you discover it has all kinds of ingredients. the year is 1946. luis anna has a traveling electric chair that they would
10:05 pm
take from parish to parish county to county and does -- display the electric chair in the county square and invite schoolkids to make a field trip and look the electric chair. they then would take the chair inside hook it up to a generator on a truck and invite the victim or mandate the victim into the chair. in this particular case 17-year-old willie francis would kill the pharmacist during a robbery was put in the chair, strap den and electrodes attached to his ankles and his head and is one witness told us the execution of said good by willie and willie did not go anywhere. the chair malfunctioned. there was smoke and sparks and willie francis had minor burns but they took him back to his cell. that became a settlement in the supreme court case. it was a double jeopardy to put a man in the electric chair again. the court eventually decided it was only accidental that you
10:06 pm
could put willie francis in the chair again. just as franklin voted for that execution because he fell constitutionally mandated to do it. he was so disturbed he went behind his fellow justices backs quite literally and powerful in the louisiana state bar and urged them to do whatever he could to stop what would be a travesty. the attorney did attempt to stop the execution. he could not. willie francis died a year later in the same -- the same hearse waiting for him a year before took his body away. >> guest: the justices were split 5-4. often even those who vote in favor of elect -- the death penalty have great misgivings with the wisdom of going to the death penalty and throughout its history the united states supreme court from the 60s on that we have found justices
10:07 pm
would vote to uphold a death sentence even though they personally felt it was wrong. they felt in a democracy this is a decision that the people must make in the state legislatures must make and is not for us to decide. >> host: you know and i thought just to kind of take a look at the unique and interesting things you did and i thought this willie francis case was interesting. you actually went to the gas chambers and you actually went to see these chairs. you wanted to hear about what the experience was like. >> guest: no death row inmate has set in as many electric chairs as we have. it reminds you of what capital punishment is about. you start thinking about it a little more deeply. incidentally they instantly there so many questions about capital punishment. a difficult one of course is whether whether to have it but
10:08 pm
once you've decided to have that as the united states has how it operates, who should be executed, what are the rules? those questions are not to be the more difficult than we can't say that her book guides you the answer but i do think we agree it helps to understand the questions. >> guest: i think there are two i call them knee-jerk theories about capital punishment. one is it's terrible and it's an abomination we shouldn't have it and the other is that it is an instrument of justice and is perfectly proper. if we shaved either of those knee-jerk theories and we cause people to think i will have decided this book is a success. >> host: i think that's an excellent point and it's a wonderful contribution to that discussion. and i wanted to take, touch on what you just said. one of the few industrialized democratic countries that still practices capital punishment.
10:09 pm
>> guest: we are the only one we think. there is no other western industrial democracy that practices the death monkey. >> host: do you believe is related to the challenges we face in reforming gun law and gun violence? >> guest: that's a really tough question. i sometimes think and i don't know the answer to that question but i sometimes think that our culture is a little different when it comes to crime and punishment than most other western democracies. guns are more readily available here than in any other western to block receipt and countries like the united kingdom, they are not there yet we have one of the highest murder rates so what do do we do? we have capital punishment and we find in those states that have the death penalty they also have the highest crime rates, primarily in the south and in those states that do not have capital punishment like the northeast primarily they have the lowest crime rates.
10:10 pm
is there a cause and effect there? i don't know. what comes first, the chicken or the egg? do they have in the south or is it the other way round and the answer might depend on who you ask because opponents of capital punishment look at it one way and proponents look at it another way in what we do find though is in this debate when you look at the crimes, when you look at the criminals who commit these crimes as we do in this book, you find a great deal of sympathy for the death penalty. it's easy to support the death penalty when a look at the crimes in this book and the criminals but then when you look at the system you have to have some pause. lewis powell throughout his career supported the death penalty. later concluded it was a mistake >> host: and then the point you just made about the stories
10:11 pm
behind these cases, i thought that really resonated with the daryl darryl atkins case and i part of your research you did go and actually interview with his mother. i just wanted to know not about the content of what that experience was like? >> guest: that was fascinating. and atkins versus virginia the supreme court held by state law to someone who is mentally impaired whatever that level is and i think it's a very tough case because most killers are not the brightest lights in the house and someone who is a little on the dems side may be spared for that and who should make that call? should it be the united states supreme court or should it be the jury that sees the defendant in court? in this case, this is another one of those cases that is truly
10:12 pm
, it's a fascinating story and legally it's very important. this was a cold-blooded murder. he stopped a guy outside a convenience store forced him into the car and made them tried to it bank and a team atm machine and took out a couple hundred bucks. he told them to get out of the car and then shot him dead and just left him there. justice scalia in this case and like on it like a prosecutor. he shot him once, twice, three, four cope. the supreme court ruled that he could not be executed if he was mentally but how do you define what is mental retardation? three juries said neither qualifies for capital punishment under virginia law. the virginia supreme court sends them back to fourth jury to determine whether he was really? before that jury could reach a verdict they found there was some prosecutorial misconduct in
10:13 pm
the trial a few years earlier and the judge finally threw up his hands and said that said he gets life without parole. so the inmate who brought this case that led to this landmark supreme court decision, this case was not affected by the decision at and all. >> it's an amazing story and the twists and turns in that case and by the way we worked on something to help people understand the crime we have something called qr codes in the book and martin is a little more techie than i am and was the driving force behind us. we think it's a really unique feature of the book that will make it more appealing to our readers. >> guest: what is helpful that the technology come you take a smartphone or tablet and he literally waved it over the code in the book and you get the video of the atkins case for many of the other cases we cover. >> guest: >> guest: one case case recovered her boss what he could have the death penalty for juveniles, somebody is under 18. this case involves a 17-year-old
10:14 pm
who seems to be on a -- and took an elderly woman out on a bridge and pushed her off and she drowned. they picked him up at his high school the next day and within hours gave a tearful confession to police. we describe this in the book but if you put your phone over the code you can see it yourself. >> host: i thought the qr code was a neat way to just kind of of -- it almost takes the reader even more into the book and i was wondering what was the thought behind that? is this the direction in which books are going to be headed especially nonfiction because it really does create a great opportunity to really grab the reader. >> guest: what martin was explaining is -- here. i've couldn't even explain what it was and when i saw the kind of blew me away.
10:15 pm
>> guest: i can predict where the publishing industry is going to go but to me, i mean not only when you see for example if you pull up simmons you see not only his confession in the police station but then the police take him back to the bridge so he can show the police where he threw the woman off the bridge. to me, that brings you literally to the scene of the crime and has an emotional impact that we think we are pretty good writers but no one can give you that kind of impact. >> guest: you don't see it on the evening news and you don't read about it in the newspapers. made for television movies will try to duplicate it at this is the real thing. and i do think you know if you're going to get involved, first of all we all have a stake in this but the fact do you might have the answers is perfectly understandable because it is a tough question. you don't have to have the answer unless you are sitting on
10:16 pm
some court, but if you look at these crimes i think you have to -- it helps you understand what it's all about. we talked to judges and we talked to lawyers and philosophers about capital punishment. sometimes i think lost in the debate might either view of the undertakers who are there to pick up the body. they see first-hand what happens and that's in the book. >> guest: and we have met some of these animals. we have met some people who in my opinion at least are beyond redemption. people are angry and if these kinds of animals are -- i can understand the feeling, the need and a desire for retribution. >> guest: one of the things we also found, everybody talks about the debate over whether the death penalty deters and a lot of that depends on he'll ask that there really is no convincing evidence that it does deter. the supreme court has sort of
10:17 pm
bought that. whether it does deter we don't know. we find a the real support for capital punishment now comes not in the name of deterrence but rather the name of richard yeshion. some call it revenge of some call it justice but to us it's all all the same thing and it's perfectly understandable. i have spoken to loved ones left behind from someone who is killed and an away the person killed itself easier. he is gone but the family, it's painful to them for the rest of their lives. they may never forget and some relatives that i have spoken with actually had crusaded against capital punishment. i would say well what about the person who killed your father? will you make of pitch to that person to the court despair that person from the death penalty? they say no, can't do that. perfectly understandable to me. >> host: in the book you are
10:18 pm
very passionate about this and i was reading that you actually were saying you all had thought about writing a book like this 20 years ago and it was just a matter of time. so i was just curious what was going on then the kind of started this conversation? >> guest: this book was born on the metro line heading from washington to new york. tim and i were going to new york to edit the piece that we had shot for 20-20 on juvenile crime in the death penalty and the more we talk to the more we thought about it somewhere between delaware and new york city we decided we had to write a book. the trouble was we are both world-class crested maters and we had a lot of other things on her plate. it took us a long time to get there. >> as martin says we are world-class procrastinators but i insist we are not quitters. although sometimes the distinction is hard to make but we did put it off for a long time and we are both semiretired. semiretired. we are still doing a lot of work.
10:19 pm
i am doing more work than i did at abc news although i'm not getting paid as well. this is something that is worth our energy and besides i don't want to be in a rest home saying we should, but it was your fault or you saying that to me. we thought it was a worthwhile project and most importantly it's an important issue and we have something to say. we had stories to tell and legal principles to explain and we work i think very well on that. martin is the storyteller from way back when on 20/20 and i've been a legal analysis or abc news for 20 plus years and it was a marriage that worked out very well. >> host: i'm curious as to where you see you know, how did this book fit into the larger assessment with the groups like the innocence project and -- 's due to dna evidence. where do you think this book fits into that?
10:20 pm
>> guest: cam that is a very good question. our book and recent events brings it to light because the prospect has always been a concern. it's always been an argument against capital punishment punishment and what we are finding is it's much more real and much more large than we actually thought it was. >> guest: columbia university and researchers from the columbia university law school found the case in texas. it's almost certainly and mistaken execution. opponents of capital punishment are often challenging, find us a truly -- guilty person i was executed. it's a case of eyewitness testimony gone wrong, case of people being in the wrong place at the right time but when you look at the man who was executed and the man who is now presumed to be guilty of the crime side-by-side photographs you have a hard time telling the difference.
10:21 pm
our book doesn't take an advocacy position. this is not a book for or against capital punishment. the goal of this book is to show you the questions. we did come to some conclusions about how the system doesn't work but were not here to tell you whether not capital punishment is right or wrong. >> guest: the risk of executing the innocent has drawn strange reactions from some justices. look, it might help your cause if you could point to one. looking at all of the statistics , no one ever said the system is perfect. are we going to do away with all punishment he could his mistakes do happen? no, it's a mechanism given to hear them and frailties and human error so there will be mixed aches. except when there is as mistake in the capital case there is no remedy, the person is gone. some say well the process has to
10:22 pm
be be the same city at that very very basic disagreement between justices who are very concerned about the risk and other justices say they are concerned but doesn't affect the outcome of whether you should have it or shouldn't have it. >> host: i'd like to take a step back because i know we touched on this earlier and i thought it was interesting. you have similar and yet different backgrounds and i just wanted to talk a little bit about the process of co-author ship and just you know i want to hear a little bit about how that works. [inaudible] >> guest: it's a miracle we are sitting in the same room. >> guest: at the same table. >> guest: an important thing, it was a delight for 90% of the time. >> guest: the other 10% was not -- >> guest: the most widely used phrase from both of those ads
10:23 pm
edit almost equal value and equal occurrences was you can't say that. i think having a friendship for 40 years to build on helped us survive all the books. >> guest: what i think we found was we did beat up most of the chapters and some we worked on together but there was an abiding respect for one another's work and if it was his chapter i would save martin i would make this change of that change but he would have the final say in the same with my chapters. he would make recommendations to me. when we are all done i must say whenever the book i felt all the changes we made were very beneficial. he helped my copy and i think i helped a great deal with your copy. we did have some disagreements and some are fairly strong but at the end of the day we reached a solution that we literally thought was best. the disagreements we had were much more light than heat. >> host: i wanted to offer
10:24 pm
something that's interesting, your title choice. it reads "murder at the supreme court," it reads like a thriller and i wondered if he did it purposely? >> guest: actually we have been looking for a theme and her publisher said we needed a theme they said martin we want to tell a story and also explain the law. from time to time in that 20 year period where we couldn't agree on what we were doing and someday we would do if we got together with a theme that would be "murder at the supreme court," how about the crimes that made the loss and all these crimes, you didn't usually think of crimes is breaking the law but these are crimes the supreme court used to shape the law, to define the law of capital punishment. we said you know, that's it.
10:25 pm
the publisher changed it to legal -- lethal crimes and landmark cases but the fact we agreed on it -- [inaudible] >> guest: i don't know. >> coming up with that theme the unifying theme was the hardest part for us. >> guest: also the concern was there is another book by truman called murder in the supreme court that is a novel about a murder in the supreme court. we were concerned about that and we weren't going to let that get in our way. this is "murder at the supreme court" and now murdered is the word that's appropriate but it does capture what the book is about. these are all lethal crimes and what the court said about them are the landmark decisions. >> host: you know i think it's unique about the title of the way the book is done with the
10:26 pm
bar code in the way the story is told is that i think it kind of opens it up to folks who are not necessarily nonfiction readers and i was just curious intentionally did you know that was going to be a come? >> guest: i would say from the get-go my fault was that abc news iata triptych story and they never said no to me. it was an amazing liberty and a treat or me. i would come back and i would say i have two stories. i have the decision from the supreme court that you want but i have the a staff of this human interest story behind it. they would say well we will give you another five seconds. there were these great stories. if were going to do a book about capital punishment we can say more about the decisions. not just what it was but what when intuit and the story behind
10:27 pm
it. martin is a storyteller that resonated with him. he likes to tell stories and we had death penalty stories on 20/20 which was a treat for me to go out so, on the death penalty for juveniles a very important case and the opportunity to explain issues in that kind of detail until the stories behind that case was such a treat and you have the luxury on 20/200 that time but i did and so is a real treat for me. >> guest: it wasn't a case of another two seconds but five minutes. >> guest: you have no idea what that meant to me. it was an out of body experience at a very good one. >> host: i think we are going to go to a break now but thank you so much.
10:28 pm
>> host: i wanted to take a moment to kind of get to the real meat of the book and talk about some of the cases that really stuck out to you both. >> guest: one of the truly landmark cases anyone who acts as his death penalty locker for me with the case if. greg: versus georgia. the supreme court throughout threw out the death penalty in an arbitrary capricious manner that was like getting struck by lightning. you never know who is going to be executed. the states rewrote their death penalty laws and another case came up in 1976 called greg versus georgia where they have the opportunity to see what the states have done and what georgia had done and perhaps reinstate capital punishment. it was a huge case because the opponents of capital punishment thought the earlier decision was the first and they could use the
10:29 pm
case to rid the capital of -- the country of capital punishment supporters said if we can get humpty dumpty back on the wall if the georgia law is upheld. troy gregg was a hitchhiker picked up by a couple of good time charlie's. they stopped and got a case of beer and had to go to the restroom and stopped again when they came back. gregg had it gone and shot them both at point bank rage. based old the money in the car. the supreme court looked at how georgia had rear-ended slot and required a bifurcated trial which makes you have one part of the trial determine if the person is guilty and a second trial which is much more open-ended to determine what is the character of of this person and what was so bad about the crime that would justify the death penalty quotes of course the georgia law was fine and other scrambled to meet what
10:30 pm
georgia had done and to duplicate what georgia had done. gregg would be the first person to be executed and the way he was was not the way anybody thought. the night before the scheduled execution he escaped from prison with four other inmates said to be the worst killers in georgia history. the crimes they committed were too gruesome even for our book which has some gruesome stories and it. some of the escapees were members of a motorcycle gang called the outlaws the got together with old friends and gregg had made the mistake of sliding the girlfriend of one of the bikers. he picked him up through to the ground and stomped him to death. his body was found in a nearby river a couple of days later. all the others were apprehended but gregg escaped which was so daring. it got him another 24 hours and that was it.
10:31 pm
gregg he was executed but not the way the law had intended. you can't make this stuff up. >> guest: these stories, after the supreme court decision i do find them fascinating and if you're a journalist and you are a writer you want to have good stories to tell. there are others too. we had one where the issue for the supreme court was whether he could forcibly medicate a paranoid schizophrenic inmate to make them well enough to be executed? >> guest: the courtyard decided okay, someone who's crazy camp can put them to death than someone who comes in sane after conviction you can't put them to death. there was a case where somebody is diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic after being condemned, the state of georgia wanted to medicate him so they could execute him. >> guest: against as well.
10:32 pm
>> guest: they wanted to medicate him so he would be came sane enough to execute them in that became a big supreme court issue. the court looked at it and accepted the case because there was question but then for some reason punted. his senate down to the lower courts for re-examination. i talked to the trial judge who was sent back and he said i was scratching my head. i had no idea what these guys wanted. they heard the case and incidentally the louisiana state supreme court made the decision that you couldn't medicate inmates with the supreme court didn't take the decision in that case. >> guest: one of of the things being covered in our work on this case that this inmate, this murderer was arrested here in washington d.c. and actually had come to town here and was stocking supreme court justice sandra o'connor. i mean unfortunately things do
10:33 pm
happen the supreme court justices and this was a threat. but as martin was saying his death sentence was set aside by the louisiana supreme court and now will be here as he has a whole room to himself in the georgia state penitentiary at angola because he spends the wee hours of the morning wandering the halls shouting. not as a courtesy to him but as a courtesy to other inmates. >> guest: the louisiana case and the louisiana state penitentiary in angola. >> guest: but another one of those issues that are very very tough. what do you do with an inmate who was on death row or not he doesn't want to take his medication and the courts as well, if you can show it's medically necessary you can forcibly medicate them but what doctor is going to say yes it's medically necessary so you can kill a guy? another one of the issues i used
10:34 pm
to lie awake at night thinking about, it's so troubled me not because they cared which was the right way to go but these are puzzles. in this case the question was can you use the victim impact statement in deciding whether this person is being convicted, committed the crime. should the jury hear about the impact with the loved ones left behind? there were three of the most horrible cases in the book and the court said you can't because if you do somehow if the relatives their relatives are articulated in speaking about what the law says they might get the death sentence but what happens if someone doesn't have articulate relatives left behind her and nobody really knew? they might escape the death sentence. he should be based solely on the crime in the criminal. i would lie awake at night trying to figure out what is the
10:35 pm
right answer. it does seem relevant with the impact is. and the supreme court divided 5- ford and it was justice lewis powell writing the majority opinion saying no, that's not relevant. just look at the crime in and the criminal. powell left the court and another case came up and the court granted expo cited -- expedited decision. it was the only the change in personnel that did it. the court went 5-4 the other way >> guest: is fascinating if you die with no relatives to speak for you that's a different situation. is this sentence going to be dependent upon the survival of victims relatives? it's scary stuff. >> guest: i still think it's a tough call and i don't know what the right answers on that. fortunately we have to worry about is whether it's questioned
10:36 pm
properly and we don't have to have the answers. when you look at these cases you understand the real difference between having an opinion which we are all entitled to and take no responsibility for usually and making the decision. john roberts when he was nominated to be chief justice addressed that in his confirmation hearings. you have to make a decision where lives on the line you look at the cases a little differently. >> host: that's an interesting point is they know this book is about you gathering information but i sense definitely that you have an opinion so i think it's somewhat weaved throughout the book. do you think it had any impact? >> guest: i hope it is not weaved throughout the book and we tried hard hard not to tip our hand. >> guest: what we found was when he we talk about these criminals the book had it wrote death penalty tilts in that troubled us. >> guest: we did not want to
10:37 pm
present any conclusions. we wanted it to be sort of hands-on here are the facts, you decide. the problem because of all the fertility of these claims, the crime to get to the u.s. supreme court are not your 7-eleven robberies or domestic homicides. these are for the most part crimes against innocent people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time and committed by people who are very violent and very screwed up people. the more we presented the details of those crimes the more viscerally we felt leaders would feel, okay the death penalty is just fine. we take no more opposition about the death penalty. you guys decided that but we concluded that we had to conclude for the sake of our readers and to be honest. we had to present our reservations with the way the system works. not whether or not you should have the death penalty but the fact that the system does not seem to work in any adequate of old way. for more than 200 years the brightest and most caring
10:38 pm
dedicated minds in our society in state legislatures on the bench in the supreme court and the legal community have tried to figure out a way to fairly administer a death penalty and do it in equitable manner that we would all be comfortable with. >> guest: in 1972 the supreme courts throughout capital punishment because it was being implemented in arbitrary and capricious manner. 30 years later doesn't seem any better twist despite all the fine-tuning the court has done. we find race figures into it, not so much the race of the perpetrator although that's a factor but the race of the victim. we find that poverty ,-com,-com ma nearly all the people on death row have one or three things in common, victims of child abuse little or no education so you have to ask yourself that's not an excuse. that is not a defense to some extent might we be executing them because of the scents of
10:39 pm
their parents? that gives me some pause and also another problem is they are all broke. they have no money and they don't have good lawyers. sometimes in some celebrated cases the quality of representation is superb but in too many of them it's absurd. people are sentenced to die not because they committed the worst crimes but because they have the worst lawyers and we see that over and over again. these arbitrary factors figure in the should have no bearing on it but i'll but they do have a profound bearing on it. >> guest: clinton put to death 90 people. 88 men into women. he said i never executed a rich person. >> guest: the question is still out there theoretically. if you could do it in a rational way and if you could do it in such a manner that it really does deter, that it really does
10:40 pm
better than anything else serve society's demand for rich fusion, should you still have that? well, it's not brain surgery. the facts are out there and i think everyone should be looking into their own hard to make their own decision on the morality of the death penalty. we offer no opinion on that at all but only as a practical matter it doesn't seem to work the way anybody had hoped. >> host: i know that this discussion is an evolving discussion about the death penalty and i was curious when you are doing your research was there anything that kind of stuck out to you that you thought might have gone a little differently if it had been tried today? >> guest: well you know, i've been trying to predict what the supreme court will do for many years and my closest friends sometimes -- and to get the right answer you have to study the case.
10:41 pm
you want to get the right answer and you look at the court. i sometimes think of the court as one organism with a multiple personality disorder and how is it going to go this way and how is it going to go that way? one of the things we found is the court has been equally divided on this issue for many many years and if there's going to be any change is going to be as a result of the change in the composition of the court. a few more justices who are opposed to capital punishment and a few more states to do away with it and you may find the majority of the court not today, not tomorrow but somewhere down the road saying we have had it and were not going to do it anymore. you do find that no state is adopting that fresh but a number of states slow we are pulling away from it and you are also finding that they have been less prone to return death sentences.
10:42 pm
when you have capital punishment the public doesn't want it and we don't have that than the public cries out for it here but also we had a very important supreme court decision which we reference in the book and we don't go into great detail about it with the supreme court has held that if there is an alternative sentence of life in prison with no parole the jury must be advised of that. if they are not advised of that you have to do it all over again if the jurors know they have that choice life without parole and will never see the light of day again outside of the prison wall we find they are more inclined to vote for life in prison. >> guest: we talk about it being arbitrary and capricious. one of the strange things we know, there are 15,000 homicides a year. it's gone down over the last few years and several hundred death penalty is that in the last three or four years we have been averaging 40 to 50 death sentences, executions.
10:43 pm
you see it's out of whack. so many death offenses and so few executions. then gregg versus georgia was argued arbitrate capricious only in the sense that many killers deserving of the death penalty don't get it the way they should. that is no reason to do away with it. look at it this way, what if you were to say pick a card in the pit the wrong card you were going to die. nobody would go along with that. that's bizarre but in a way it's a practical matter that's the way this seems to play out. you have no way of knowing who was going to be given at death sentence or whether that sentence will actually be carried out, except you do know that if the victim is black or the victim is white or the victim, that perpetrated is poor doesn't have any money for death sentences more likely than if
10:44 pm
not in those are factors which should not play into it at all but they do. >> guest: the future of the court in this composition is one factor but what's happening in the state is interesting. tim and i both live in maryland where there's an interesting microcosm of the national debate for two legislative sessions in 2007 and 2009. there were efforts pushed by the governor to repeal the death sentence, the death penalty in maryland. that effort didn't succeed until two months ago. the public opinion about the death penalty is interestingly enough in maryland is in favor of it but the support is -- most of the people who support the death penalty also feel that it does not deter crimes so things are changing at the state level. >> guest: one of the worst crimes in the book and one of the victim impact cases i was talking about earlier included one of the worst crimes, truly
10:45 pm
at cold-blooded with murder in 3-d. it was just horrible. he has been on death row for over 30 years. most people die of old age like the rest of us. >> guest: there's the matter of closure. if a relative gets murdered and someone gets a death sentence you can be sure there will be 15 to 25 years of reviews and agony before there is closure. ..
10:46 pm
>> it will not be swift and with all of the protections we have in place. what do we do? we submit that's not the answer. >> that's an interesting question because the comment
10:47 pm
you made earlier it is less likely to necessarily go the route of the death penalty i was curious if you thought of why that was. i know the book talks about the history of executions and how they were public and that became disturbing but it is interesting evolution for producing the quality of evidence is that the reason why the threshold is higher? why do you think that is? >> we're learning more and more about evidence morning about hair samples is now a whole new question that there has been terrible forensic guidelines that let people in the wrong direction. eyewitness testimony that is less and less reliable there is a lot we are learning
10:48 pm
about the process we did not know before. >> the evolution of dna evidence is jurors greatest cause the mess they are absolutely certain. maryland said either have to have dna evidence to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt or it must be committed on videotape for anybody to be given the death sentence. the concern is great and illinois had it for many years to say the research by the innocence project shows mistakes are made lefty and right allegis beyond a reasonable doubt for them to return but the impact has
10:49 pm
with going on in maryland the i just want to go into that a little bit with the research and discussion you had in your book. >> there is the flip side of maryland and illinois which is texas there is no inclination there to do away with capital punishment. they're not running very long or very far. there are pockets that cry out for capital punishment. i don't think that will change. >> there is an interesting phenomenon there are chemicals to kill people the traditional cocktail's have then withdrawing permission for execution and not available.
10:50 pm
the state of georgia because the limited supply the expiration date on the test tubes for their lethal injections make it impossible for them to eject them into anybody for a new reason. now the state legislature passed a law that imposes secrecy that they might be required to put chemicals together to be used in executions. a state secret about any physician in the process to go indic undercover in a way that is scary.
10:51 pm
and you have to this. >> cameras are allowed in the courts for georgia because a lot of people would be surprised. but doesn't work out as we think. >> with adequate representation at what point* do you find it absolutely is essential that this take place? >> 50 years ago last month of the supreme court ruled in all state courts anyone charged a felony should be entitled to counsel and what
10:52 pm
we call adequate assistance of counsel. the lawyer says here's the deal. because that is the best deal i will get? but clearly to prevent a death sentence where they got the new lawyers but could gut -- could not get the information they needed then they had some justices
10:53 pm
saying that is too bad. he should be executed. the system is broken. harry blackmun said this a long time ago that wherever you are on the moral question you first have to get to the practical question can we do any meaningful way and there question is we have not. >> gentlemen, thank you so much. this has been a treaty and i appreciated. >> it has been a pleasure being with you.
10:54 pm
10:55 pm
10:56 pm
and bay buchanan has written a book. tell us about it. >> the book is my story about being a single mom 23 ears. i became a single mom when i was pregnant with my third son and there are rough days and good days and i never heard a positive message from the right or the left or encouraging words or instruction to help us get along because the odds are against kids who only have one parent in the home. i looked at it as you can do it. it is an up day am positive message i think we were all late to some extent and those are my best years in. >> people the u.s. as a
10:57 pm
republican is this book free of ideology? >> it is a political. i don't care how you become a single mom it is about helping you be successful to make certain those kids have a chance to be as successful as any other child of their circumstances. that's what is key. so much is out there and makes you feel that you have failed or the odds are against you already or it is too much work and it is time for single moms to realize it doesn't matter how tough it is i have to do what i have to fight for my kids and make sure they have a chance and i've got to show them the way. that is what my book is about and what i learned along the way. it has the eighth lessons of single-parent king it would apply to all parents.
10:58 pm
in there is a lot of great stories help parents could relate to when the parents embarrass you are making nervous what will happen tomorrow because of circumstances. of but it is a great and enjoyable read for all. >> host: you have three boys, now three men. what do they do? >> they made some great decisions. i set the path but i cannot take credit. my oldest graduated from law school and married with two kids and one on the way. my second son is married with two children has a start up in california doing quite well and my youngest is still in college but looking at medical school. i could not be prouder of the decisions they have made, the lives they have
10:59 pm
chosen and the grandchildren they produce. >> host: and bay buchanan author of the new book bay and her boys. thank you


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on