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Opening Arguments

The uncorrectable mistake

There is convincing evidence that Carlos DeLuna was executed for a murder that was actually committed by Carlos Hernandez:

The ultimate villain of this awful story, Hernandez died in prison, in 1999, boasting to the end that he had killed Wanda Lopez and allowed another man to take the fall for it. The cops knew this. The prosecutors knew or should have known it. Witnesses knew it. And yet no one did anything to stop the state executioners from carrying out their job. Why no one listened to Hernandez for all those years, and why no one hears the cries of others today, is a question Justice Scalia and many others have to answer for themselves.

Scalia is one of three people chided in the article, along with Ann Coulter and George W. Bush, for expressing "total confidence in the American justice system and, in particular, its ability to never, ever execute people who were not guilty." One mistake might not make the case against the death penalty, but it should at least discourage people from having such absolute certainty.

Every human endeavor is subjected to the possibility of error because human beings are flawed. What sets capital punishment apart is that its mistakes can never be undone. That's the essence of the libertarian argument against the death penalty, which does not hold that it's unfair or immoral, only that it is too much power to trust the state with.


Wed, 05/16/2012 - 9:55am

I was previously unaware that Libertarians opposed the death penalty. It's nice to find more common ground. Even if the death penalty "worked," whatever that means, this sort of mistake is sufficient to oppose it. A few years ago another Texas man was executed for killing his daughters by burning down his own house. After his execution, an expert reviewed the evidence and confirmed the man (whose name I have forgotten, but he was in the news) was telling the truth - an electric space heater had caused the fire. I cannot imagine a worse nightmare than waiting on death row knowing you're innocent of the crime. I suspect some of your conservative regulars here are going to disagree with your position.

Wed, 05/16/2012 - 4:55pm

I agree with you littlejohn on this issue.

Tim Zank
Wed, 05/16/2012 - 6:02pm

Tough issue, I'd have to say I'm evolving like Obama. There's a very natural instinctive human urge to kill someone who has harmed you or yours, but it does trouble me to have the ultimate decision or outcome arrived at by people who get paid to obfuscate the truth for a living.

john b. kalb
Thu, 05/17/2012 - 4:07pm

littlejohn - Guess what - WE AGREE ON SOMETHING!!!!!   John B. Kalb