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Constitutional Law,
Appellate Practice

Jun. 9, 2017

Prop 66 Debate: Legal and Policy Considerations of a Faster Death Penalty

This week the state high court debates Prop 66, passed narrowly in November and designed to quicken California's criminal executions; Professor Elisabeth Semel (UC Berkeley Law) and LA Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee (President, LA Assn of DDAs) offer opposing views on the legal and policy considerations that surround a swifter death penalty


This week's show presents opposing viewpoints on a consequential and deeply divisive element of California criminal law: the death penalty.

On Tuesday the state's high court heard arguments for and against Proposition 66, a ballot initiative passed by a slim margin last November that aims to speed up California's administration of capital punishment. Currently, capital cases can extend up to 10 or 15 years before direct and collateral appeals have been exhausted. The initiative instructs courts to cut that time substantially, and conclude capital matters within five years, and it changes various penal code sections with the aim of realizing that goal. For now the measure is stayed, as the state supreme court reviews a petition contesting its legality.

Our guests will present opposing sides of the question. First, we'll hear Professor Elisabeth Semel, from UC Berkeley Law, argue that Prop 66 violates the separation of powers rule and impinges unconstitutionally on state appellate court jurisdiction. She'll also contend that the measure is impractical, financially burdensome, and lacking in safeguards that ensure reliable administration of the death penalty.

Then, Michele Hanisee, President of the LA County Association of Deputy District Attorneys, will make the case for Prop 66. Ms. Hanisee helped draft the measure, and contends it merely eliminates inefficiencies that unnecessarily delay capital punishment in California. She'll explain that savings created by the measure will help mitigate any additional administration and judicial costs it creates, and that Prop 66 in no way undermines the reliability of state executions.

Don't forget CLE credit is available for listeners of the podcast; click below for a short true/false test and to claim your hour of credit for having tuned in.


Brian Cardile

Daily Journal Staff Writer

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