This is a sad coda by a State Supreme Court unwilling to accept the will of the people or the decisions of the US Supreme Court (not just recently, but for 50 years) that the death penalty is constitutional if voters of a state want it available.
The court endorsed the sleazy move by largely Democratic legislators in 2019 to neuter the death penalty, because they could do that without the 2/3rds votes they didn’t have.
Sen. Johnson and Rep. Witt voted AGAINST SB 1013, so please thank them.
Some of these news stories are fuzzy. The result is all current death sentences will be vacated and the killers sentenced to life, either true life, or in about 4 cases, including Randy Guzek, who I tried three times, will get an immediate chance of parole.
Dave Houser is the son in law of Rod and Lois Houser, the couple gunned down by Randy Guzek. This is a travesty of justice. Essentially the elites of the Democratic Party (and some Republicans) know they don’t have the votes to overturn repeated votes for a limited death penalty. So the trick is to “limit” it, without full abolition, which would require voter approval.
The Court invoked the Oregon constitution, which although is identically worded to the federal constitution, allows the state Supreme Court to invoke “independent state grounds,” which is little different from southern states in the 1960s claiming “states’ rights” to try to evade federal civil rights laws.
To respond to one anonymous troll on the KTVZ site, he cannot receive any other sentence than one that gives him immediate parole eligibility because that was the only alternative sentence in 1988.
People should write my successor, DA Ron Brown, and Governor Kate Brown to express their horror at the attempt by Jesse McAllister to get his sentence commuted. He murdered Brook Goza and Frank Nimitz on the Seaside beach in July 1997. He and co-defendant Brad Price fled to Mexico for a year. When McAllister was arraigned I was ready to seek the death penalty, but he offered to plead straight up to True Life, no possibility of parole.
JOSHUA MARQUIS on
criminal justice, animal welfare, and the nature of the relationship between popular culture and the law.
See the Archives page for an index of all posts, including those prior to January 2019.