Tuesday, September 20, 2011


It is remarkable to read words like those below, especially when they were penned by the judge of the original sentence of death. I share these with readers of the blog for several reasons: they speak against the fairness of capital punishment, they remind us of the irrevocable nature of such a punishment, and they reinforce the evidence that many capital cases are resolved in favor of death because of inexperience: how often are indigent defendants actually represented by adequate counsel in their trials? It is for this reason that a moratorium (at the very least) needs to be placed on executions in the State of Alabama. We want justice to be served, not simple rage and blood-lust, no matter how understandable those emotions might be.  Please read on:

The Huntsville-Madison County NAACP is sponsoring a Candlelight Rally in support of Derrick Mason's death sentence being commuted based upon the compelling legal reasons provided by the trial sentencing judge, Lloyd H. Little (retired) in his letter to Governor Robert Bentley requesting that Mason's death sentence be commuted and changed to life imprisonment. Judge Little cited Mason's attorneys and his own lack of experience in trying a capital murder case and stated: "That lack of experience, combined with its being my first experience in capital litigation, more than likely affected how the case was tried..... I believe that more experienced defense attorneys could have more effectively presented evidence of the mitigating factors (his age, lack of significant criminal record and drug and alcohol use) that could have affected the jury's recommendation and my ultimate decision." He further stated:

".... [T]]he law of Alabama requires that this aggravating factor of being especially heinous, atrocious and cruel be so when compared to other capital murders. In hindsight, and with so much more experience now in these cases, I do not believe this aggravating factor would have been available to the jury or the Court. Without that as an aggravating factor to consider, the advisory verdict of the jury wuld [sic] most likely have been different. They would have recommended life without parole and I would have followed that recommendation. That is what should have happened 15 years ago."

"Governor Bentley, I am confident that when I am asking you to do now is absolutely the right thing to do under the facts of this case and the law of this State."

1 comment:

  1. Seems to me this is a good thing. A lot of things need to be re-evaluated within our justice system in regards to punitive measures. It's difficult to think about, though. Not everyone understands or wants to understand that one must answer for the life one takes (literally and metaphorically -- personal responsibility).