Local News

House Committee Passes Bill Calling For Two-Year Study On Death Penalty

Posted July 12, 2005

— A state House panel has passed a watered-down bill that calls for a

two-year study of executions

.

Under the proposed bill, there will still be a two-year study on the death penalty, but there will not be a moratorium. Executions can still occur, but courts could stay an execution if the case relates to the study.

"There are some problems in our criminal justice system in North Carolina when innocent people end up on death row," said House Majority Leader Joe Hackney, sponsor of the moratorium bill.

"The worst thing would be for us to execute somebody and then at the conclusion of the study, the Legislature decide that this kind of case or this type of person who should not be executed," said Richard Taylor, of the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers.

Some critics argue it gives Superior Court judges too much power over death penalty cases that were already decided.

"It's essentially having a lower-level judge overrule the higher-level judge, which is unacceptable," said Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake.

Stam said he is also worried about the study itself. He argues it could be made up of political appointees with a specific agenda. Supporters said it will not have advocates from either point of view.

The bill now goes to the full House.

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