A: Well, it used to be, but now there are numerous federal crimes which provide for the death penalty, that’s a recent development. And a president, I think, should take a strong stand. The death penalty has been shown, in study after study, not to deter homicides; it has been shown to be discriminatorily applied to the poor and the defenseless, especially defendants who don’t have lawyers who stay awake at trial.
A: First of all, moral leadership [via] the bully pulpit. And second, there are now increasing numbers of federal crimes that provide for the death penalty right under the jurisdiction of the president.
Q: What would be your message to Bush about the double execution expected tonight?
A: Well, if I was Bush I would be pretty ashamed. I would do what Governor Ryan did in Illinois, and declare a moratorium, or urge a moratorium in Texas, in order to determine how many defendants have been adequately represented by competent lawyers, and to review the whole process by which those who get executed in Texas are overwhelmingly minorities. And crimes are committed by all segments of society, and I would hope that George Bush will wake up to it because it is going to haunt him for the next few weeks, there are going to be all these executions coming. There is one now involving a retarded man.
A: There were 87 capital crime convictions overturned by [research on their cases conducted by] journalism students. Undoubtedly, some of those executed were innocent.
The insurance industry and its clients-the manufacturers and other companies-basically say, look, we don’t want to fight this out in the courts of law before a civil jury and the judge; we want to grease legislation in Washington and state capitols and take away these rights, make it very difficult for people to get adequate damages, to introduce evidence in court, to get a competent lawyer. And this is what’s called “tort reform.” We call it “Tort DeForm.”
This is an attack on a unique pillar of our democracy. This is the pride of the world. Only in America can a worker dying of asbestos file a lawsuit and bring the asbestos manufacturer to court for actions two decades ago.
A: Corporate executives want to handicap the lawyers who represent injured and swindled consumers. So how do you do it? Well, these companies want full economic incentives for them to make profit; they want to reduce the contingent fee incentive for lawyers so they’re less likely to take these risky cases, because they only get paid when they win. So, it’s bad enough that they don’t get paid when they don’t win -- because all other professions, doctors and everyone else gets paid whether they win or lose -- but, even when they win, this would cut their contingent fee very substantially. And pressure their consumer clients to consider settlement offers whereby they -- not the defendant -- have to reveal all the evidence before they start the process of depositions and discovery. So, it’s a way to handicap both the victim / plaintiffs and their lawyers, to rig the playing field, make it more likely the corporations will win the lawsuit.
The other aspect is that most regulatory agencies have standards that either are obsolete or they’re so modest that they’re easily complied with. So why the outcry? [Because] it’s a great and convenient scapegoating for management who’s messed up for other reasons and they want to blame the regulators.
[Also] they’re complaining about a lot of paperwork. It’s really a joke to watch them talk about all the pages in the Federal Register. The more the regulator responds to a corporate law firm’s petition for either elaboration or waivers, the more pages in the Federal Register. They don’t have any correlation with the degree of intense regulation applied to the industry.
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George W. Bush
War & Peace