Thursday, March 15, 2012

Death Row Inmate Challenges Oregon Gov’s Order Giving Him an Execution Reprieve

via ABA Journal:

Sentenced to death but given a reprieve by a state governor who says there will be no executions on his watch, an Oregon inmate is challenging the suspension of his death sentence. Gary Haugen, through his legal counsel, is challenging as unconstitutional Gov. John Kitzhaber's reprieve order, contending that it is legally ineffective because it has not been accepted by the defendant, the Oregonian reports. In a motion and supporting memorandum (PDF) filed Monday in state circuit court, attorney Harrison Latto seeks an order requiring the state to issue a new death warrant.

Talk about being ungrateful. And the attorney? Filing a motion demanding that his client be killed? Seems like an interesting ethics question. Seems like the attorney is acting against the interests of his client, except that the client wants to die. So ... the lawyer is assisting a suicide? Is that legal? Ethical?

Interesting that this is happening in Oregon, which passed the Death with Dignity Act in 2008, which allows terminally ill patients to receive help from their physicians to end their lives. Does that change the analysis? You could analogize the lawyer's position here to the doctor's position with terminally ill patients. Except that the governor stayed the execution. Of course, life in prison might be just as bad.

We'll see what happens.

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