Statement from ABA President William H. Neukom following Baze v Rees
WASHINGTON, April 17, 2008—Because there continue to be serious failures of due process in capital cases in many states, we hope today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding Kentucky’s protocols for administering lethal injections in capital cases does not launch a rush to set new execution dates for death row inmates whose executions were stayed pending this ruling, Baze v Rees.
Although the American Bar Association takes no position on the death penalty itself, since 1997 we have urged a temporary halt to executions until each jurisdiction can assure that its procedures meet standards of due process and fairness. In addition, recent ABA studies in eight states show that race, geography and economic status of defendants in capital cases often have discriminatory influence in determining guilt or innocence.
The ABA renewed its call for a moratorium on executions last October, and again in testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee last week. Executions should not resume until jurisdictions assess the systems that issues death sentences, and implement reforms necessary to assure justice.