As a Superior Court judge, I tried many murder cases, including one death-penalty prosecution, which is still in limbo after almost two decades of appeals. In my 20 years on the bench, I came to recognize the death penalty as inherently unfair, arbitrary, costly and ineffective.
— David Nichols, former Superior Court Judge from Washington
“Whether or not one receives the death penalty depends upon the discretion of the prosecutor who initiates the proceeding, the competence of counsel who represents the defendant, the race of the victim, the race of the defendant, the make-up of the jury, the attitude of the judge, and the attitude and make-up of the appellate courts that review the verdict.”
— H. Lee Sarokin, retired federal appeals court judge
I have yet to see a death case among the dozens coming to the Supreme Court on eve-of-execution stay applications in which the defendant was well represented at trial... [P]eople who are well represented at trial do not get the death penalty.
— Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, April 2001
The best available evidence indicates that, on the one hand, innocent people are sentenced to death with materially greater frequency than was previously supposed and that, on the other hand, convincing proof of their innocence often does not emerge until long after their convictions.