October 27, 2008, - 11:25 am

Yet Another Reason the Supreme Court Was Wrong in Nixing Death Penalty for Teens; An Obama Court

By Debbie Schlussel
Remember the Supreme Court decision striking down the death penalty for juveniles, no matter how heinous their crimes? Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the decision that said society considers juvenile criminals “less culpable than the average criminal.”
While teens in America continue to commit ever more brutal and disgusting attacks on innocent people, they don’t get the punishment to equal the crimes they commit.
The latest example of someone who is NOT “less culpable than the average criminal” but got a “less culpable” punishment, is Thomas Daugherty, now 19.
When he was 17, he and then 19-year-old Brian Hooks and another 19-year-old, trolled the streets for helpless, homeless people to brutally attack. They hid baseball bats and viciously beat these vulnerable people who were down-on-their-luck as it is. And they had so much fun beating the homeless, they even videotaped it. One of their homeless victims, Norris Gaynor, was sleeping, and they brutally beat him to death.

blindjustice.jpg

This is not a case of circumstantial evidence, where it’s in doubt whether these people committed this murder. They videotaped it.

A man was sentenced to life in prison Thursday for killing a homeless man with a baseball bat in 2006 and harming two others. One of the violent attacks was captured on video, outraging homeless advocates nationwide.
Thomas Daugherty, 19, received the sentence for his role in the death of Norris Gaynor. Prosecutors say Daugherty and 21-year-old Brian Hooks, who will be sentenced Friday, hid baseball bats in their pants and sneaked up on homeless people including 45-year-old Gaynor.
Gaynor was sleeping on a park bench when the teens beat him so badly they broke his nose, five ribs and crushed his skull. . . .
Daugherty and Hooks were both convicted last month of second-degree murder and two counts each of attempted second-degree murder. Prosecutors sought first-degree murder charges against them, but did not seek the death penalty against them or a third defendant because Daugherty was 17 at the time and is ineligible for capital punishment.
Daugherty’s defense attorney and family members painted a picture of a child wrecked by his upbringing including his parent’s divorce at a young age and his drug use from age 11.
A third defendant, William Ammons, 21, pleaded guilty in May to felony murder and aggravated assault in the beatings and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Prosecutors said the teens were smoking marijuana and drinking vodka when they decided in the early hours of Jan. 12, 2006, to go cruising and “beat up some bums.” They drove to three separate locations, first assaulting Jacques Pierre, 61, who was captured on video.
The ferocity of the assaults shocked homeless advocates.

In my view, all three of those involved deserve the death penalty. They knew what they were doing. And they took innocent, defenseless people’s lives away in a deliberately painful way, meant to induce suffering.
I think the death penalty should rarely be used and only in the most extreme cases. This is one of them.
Sadly, the Supreme Court took that option away.
Yes, Kennedy was a Republican pick, but expect more misguided decisions that deny justice . . . with an Obama Supreme Court.

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3 Responses

Agree with you on this one-beating up homeless people is scuzzy

mindy1 on October 27, 2008 at 6:24 pm

I agree.
Why Some “Juvenile” Murderers Should Qualify For The Death Penalty: Brain Science and Other Issues
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters, contact below, updated 10/2/04
There are a number of inadequate issues raised in opposition to 16-17 year old murderers being culpable for the death penalty — Brain science and other arguments†are either weak or false.

BRAIN SCIENCE & JUVENILE DEATH PENALTY — NO HOLY GRAIL (1)
“The brain data don’t show that adolescents typically have reduced legal culpability for crimes.” Harvard University psychologist Jerome Kagan.
UCLA’s Elizabeth Sowell, another prominent brain-development researcher, takes a dim view of the movement to apply neuroscience to the law. She says that no current research connects specific brain traits of typical teenagers to any mental or behavioral problems.
“The scientific data aren’t ready to be used by the judicial system,” she remarks. “The hardest thing [for neuroscientists to do] is to bring brain research into real-life contexts.”
The ambiguities of science don’t mix with social and political causes, contends neuroscientist Bradley S. Peterson of the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. For instance, it’s impossible to say at what age teenagers become biologically mature because the brain continues to develop in crucial ways well into adulthood, he argues.
Such findings underscore the lack of any sharp transition in brain development that signals maturity, according to neuroscientist William T. Greenough of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Definitions of adulthood change depending on social circumstances, Greenough points out. Only 200 years ago, Western societies regarded 16-year-olds as adults.
“Brain science offers no simple take-home message about adolescents,” says B.J. Casey of Cornell University’s Weill Medical College in New York City. “It’s amazing how little we know about the developing brain.”
Brain-scanning techniques, including the popular MRI, remain a “crude level of analysis,” Casey notes. What’s more, many critical brain-cell responses are too fast for MRI to track.
Brain data, particularly those on delayed frontal-lobe growth in adolescents, also need to be put in a cultural and historical perspective, Harvard’s Kagan asserts. Frontal-lobe development presumably proceeds at roughly the same pace in teenagers everywhere. Yet current rates of teen violence and murder vary from remarkably low to alarmingly high from country to country, he notes.
“Something about cultural context must be critical here,” Kagan says. “Under the right conditions, 15-year-olds can control their impulses without having fully developed frontal lobes.”
If incomplete brains automatically reduce adolescents’ capacity to restrain their darker urges, “we should be having Columbine incidents every week,” he adds.
Science News summarizes these positions: ” . . .brain science doesn’t belong in court because there’s no evidence linking specific characteristics of teens’ brains to any legally relevant condition, such as impaired moral judgment or an inability to control murderous impulses. ”
AGE, ALONE, CANNOT DICTATE CULPABILITY

No one, including psychiatrists, psychologists and brain specialists, disputes that some 16-17 year olds are as mature, or more mature, than some of those 18 and older. US Supreme Court Justices, Nobel Peace Prize winners, the American Medical Association and the European Union†agree.

Therefore, the argument against executing some 16-17 year old murderers is without merit, when it is based upon age, alone.

Is a murderer less culpable solely because they murdered someone one-second, one minute, one week, one month or one year before their 18th birthday? Of course not.
US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor writes:
“Furthermore, granting the premise that adolescents are generally less blameworthy than adults who commit similar crimes, it does not necessarily follow that all 15-year-olds are incapable of the moral culpability that would justify the imposition of capital punishment. Nor is there evidence that 15-year-olds as a class are inherently incapable of being deterred from major crimes by the prospect of the death penalty.” (2)

It is argued that because people have to be older to drink, vote, marry, etc., that it is hypocritical to say that some 16-17 year olds are mature enough to be death eligible for committing capital murder. If society so wished we could individually evaluate 16-17 years olds (just as we do within the criminal justice system) to determine which of those were as mature as 18-21 year olds and allow those to participate in those responsibilities and privileges. No one doubts that many would qualify. Furthermore, there is a major difference between a social privilege and culpability for capital murder.

MacArthur Juvenile Competence Study: “The study did not find differences between juveniles aged 16 and 17 and young adults (18-24) in abilities relevant to their competence to stand trial.” (3)
HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION
Those who claim that the death penalty is a human rights violation have failed to make their case.
It is presented that some US states are equal with a number of less democratic nations that execute those who were under age 18 when they committed their murder(s). First, the US criminal justice system is quite different from those nations. Second, as no one disputes that many 16-17 year olds are as mature as some 18-21 year olds, this argument means nothing.
In terms of proportionality, execution cannot be viewed as disproportionately severe in relation to the crime. The innocent murder victim did not earn or deserve their fate, whereas the murderer voluntarily took the lives of the innocent and thereby volunteered for the punishment available within that jurisdiction.
(1) excerpts† from “Teen Brains on Trial”, Bruce Bower, Science News, 5/8/04, vol. 165, No. 19, p.299
http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20040508/bob9.asp
(2) Thompson v. Oklahoma, 487 U.S. 815 (1988) (USSC+) at
www2.law.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/foliocgi.exe/historic/query=[group+487+u!2Es!2E+815!3A]!28[group+edited!3A]!7C[level++case+citation!3A]!29/doc/{@1}/hit_headings/words=4/hits_only?
(3) from Study Summary, ” MacArthur Juvenile Competence Study”,www.mac-adoldev-juvjustice.org/competence%20study%20summary.pdf
Full Study, Results, http://www.mac-adoldev-juvjustice.org/page23.html
NOTE: the study was partially funded by the Open Society Institute, one of the Soros Foundations, a product of George Soros, who may be he largest financier of anti death penalty efforts, worldwide.
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail† sharpjfa@aol.com,† 713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas

Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS†, VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O’Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.

A†former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

Pro death penalty sites†
homicidesurvivors.com/categories/Dudley%20Sharp%20-%20Justice%20Matters.aspx
http://www.dpinfo.com
http://www.cjlf.org/deathpenalty/DPinformation.htm http://www.clarkprosecutor.org/html/links/dplinks.htm
http://www.coastda.com/archives.html
http://www.lexingtonprosecutor.com/death_penalty_debate.htm http://www.prodeathpenalty.com
http://yesdeathpenalty.googlepages.com/home2†† (Sweden) http://www.wesleylowe.com/cp.html
copyright 1998-2008 Dudley Sharp – Permission for distribution of this document, in whole or in part,† is approved with proper attribution.

Dudley Sharp on October 27, 2008 at 11:43 pm

Thi is relevant.
Kennedy, child rape & the Supremes†
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters, contact info below

In Kennedy v Louisiana, SCOTUS makes this blunder: “the court rested its condemnation of executing the rapists of children largely on what it described as a trend away from the use of death to punish such crimes both here and abroad.”

Just the opposite is true.

The state laws imposing the death penalty option on child rape cases were relatively new and a number of states were actively considering passing such laws in their states, as well.

In other words, we were seeing a new trend to pass such laws, instead of a trend away from them.

By outlawing such new laws, it was SCOTUS that was, wrongly and intentionally, stopping a new trend. This is a horrible precedent – to use SCOTUS-speak, SCOTUS†was, knowingly, stopping†new laws which may become the †evolving standard and, quite possibly, preventing a†national consensus towards having the death penalty for child rapists.

Is the newest “constitutional” guide for SCOTUS preemptive trend stopping? Maybe.

SCOTUS’ evolving standards doctrine and the national consensus “standards” are both prone to this type of constitutional perversion – the alchemy of highly strained legal arguments derived from personal opinion.

In fact, the national consensus was for the death penalty for child rape cases.

See Jim Lindgren’s, A ìNational Consensusî in Favor of the Death Penalty for Child Rapists”
http://volokh.com/posts/1214447764.shtml

And a† July, 2008 National Poll

By a 55 – 38 percent margin, voters favor the death penalty for a person convicted of raping a child. Women and men are consistent in their support.
http://www.quinnipiac.edu/x1295.xml?ReleaseID=1194

Another excellent example of this type of phony consensus and evolving standards doctrine improperly used by SCOTUS†is this,

A phony ‘consensus’ on youthful killers
by Jeff Jacoby in a Boston Globe op/ed
http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2005/03/06/a_phony_consensus_on_youthful_killers/

As a firm adherent to the reality that incentives matter to most people, including criminals, I was concerned that if the sanction options were equal for child rape and child murder that some rapists would be more prone to murder their victims. Therefore, I was not a proponent of the death penalty for child rape.

copyright 1998-2008 Dudley Sharp
Permission for distribution of this document, in whole or in part,† is approved with proper attribution.

Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail† sharpjfa@aol.com,† 713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas

Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS†, VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O’Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.

A†former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

Pro death penalty sites†
homicidesurvivors.com/categories/Dudley%20Sharp%20-%20Justice%20Matters.aspx
http://www.dpinfo.com
http://www.cjlf.org/deathpenalty/DPinformation.htm
http://www.clarkprosecutor.org/html/links/dplinks.htm
http://www.coastda.com/archives.html
http://www.lexingtonprosecutor.com/death_penalty_debate.htm
http://www.prodeathpenalty.com
yesdeathpenalty.googlepages.com/home2†† (Sweden)
http://www.wesleylowe.com/cp.html

Dudley Sharp on October 27, 2008 at 11:45 pm

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