70 Pro Death Penalty Quotes by Judges from the U.S.A

"I have ever had the single aim of justice in view... 'Do equal and exact justice,' is my motto, and I have often said to the grand jury, 'Permit no innocent man to be punished, but let no guilty man escape.'"

Letter to U.S. Attorney General Augustus Hill Garland (May 27, 1885).

“The object of punishment is to... lift the man up; to stamp out his bad nature and wicked disposition.”

Judge Isaac Charles Parker (October 15, 1838 – November 17, 1896) served as a U.S. District Judge presiding over the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas for 21 years. He served in that capacity during the most dangerous time for law enforcement during the western expansion. He is remembered today as the legitimate "Hanging Judge" of the American Old West. In 21 years on the bench, Judge Parker tried 13,490 cases, 344 of which were capital crimes. Guilty pleas or convictions were handed down in 9,454 cases. Of the 160 (156 men and 4 women) sentenced to death by hanging, 79 were actually hanged. The rest died in jail, appealed, or were pardoned.
“Jose Manuel Miguel Gonzales, in a few short weeks it will be spring. The snows of winter will flow away, the ice will vanish, the air will become soft and balmy. The annual miracle of the years will awaken and come to pass.

But you will not be there.

The rivulet will run its soaring course to the sea. The timid desert flowers will put forth their tender shoots. The glorious valleys in this imperial domain will blossom as the rose.

Still you will not be there.

From every treetop, some wildwood songster will carol his mating song. Butterflies will sport in the sunshine. The gentle breeze will tease the tassels of the wild grasses and all nature will be glad.

But you will not be there to enjoy it.

Because I command the sheriff of the county to lead you away to some remote spot, swing you by the neck from a knotting bough of some sturdy oak and let you hang until dead.
And then Jose Manuel Miguel Gonzales, I further command that such officer retire quickly from your dangling corpse, that vultures may descend from the heavens upon your filthy body until nothing is left but the bare, bleached bones of a cold-blooded, blood-thirsty, throat-cutting, murdering S.O.B.”

Phantly Roy Bean, Jr. (c. 1825 – March 16, 1903) was an eccentric U.S. saloon-keeper and Justice of the Peace in Val Verde County, Texas, who called himself "The Law West of the Pecos". According to legend, Judge Roy Bean held court in his saloon along the Rio Grande in a desolate stretch of the Chihuahuan Desert of southwest Texas.
“We are concerned here only with the imposition of capital punishment for the crime of murder, and when a life has been taken deliberately by the offender, we cannot say that the punishment is invariably disproportionate to the crime. It is an extreme sanction suitable to the most extreme of crimes.” 

Majority opinion in 7-2 ruling that the death penalty is a constitutionally acceptable form of punishment for premeditated murder (July 2, 1976) 
Held in the Supreme Court in Gregg v. Georgia.“We may nevertheless assume safely there are murders, such as those who act in passion, for whom the threat of death has little or no deterrent effect. But for many others, the death penalty undoubtedly, is a significant deterrent. There are carefully contemplated murders, such as murder for hire, where the possible penalty of death may well enter the cold calculus that precedes the decision to act.”

Justice Stewart held in the Supreme Court in Gregg v. Georgia: - “Although some of the studies suggest that the death penalty may not function as a significantly greater deterrent than lesser penalties, there is no convincing empirical evidence supporting or refuting this view.”


Potter Stewart (January 23, 1915 – December 7, 1985) was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. On the Court, he made major contributions to criminal justice reform, civil rights, access to the courts, and Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, among other areas.

"Justice Blackmun begins his statement [declaring Blackmun's opposition to capital punishment] by describing with poignancy the death of a convicted murderer by lethal injection. He chooses, as the case in which to make that statement, one of the less brutal of the murders that regularly come before us, the murder of a man ripped by a bullet suddenly and unexpectedly, with no opportunity to prepare himself and his affairs, and left to bleed to death on the floor of a tavern. The death-by-injection which Justice Blackmun describes looks pretty desirable next to that. It looks even better next to some of the other cases currently before us, which Justice Blackmun did not select as the vehicle for his announcement that the death penalty is always unconstitutional, for example, the case of the 11-year-old girl raped by four men and then killed by stuffing her panties down her throat. See McCollum v. North Carolina. How enviable a quiet death by lethal injection compared with that!" Callins v. Collins 510 U.S. 1141 (1994) (Scalia, J., concurring in denial of cert).

"The Court thus proclaims itself sole arbiter of our Nation's moral standards—and in the course of discharging that awesome responsibility purports to take guidance from the views of foreign courts and legislatures. Because I do not believe that the meaning of our Eighth Amendment, any more than the meaning of other provisions of our Constitution, should be determined by the subjective views of five Members of this Court and like-minded foreigners, I dissent. Words have no meaning if the views of less than 50 percent of death penalty States can constitute a national consensus. Our previous cases have required overwhelming opposition to a challenged practice, generally over a long period of time.”

With the death penalty, on the other hand, I am part of the criminal law machinery that imposes death, which extends from the indictment to the jury conviction to rejection of the last appeal. I am aware of the ethical principle that one can give material cooperation to the immoral act of another when the evil that would attend failure to cooperate is even greater: for example, helping a burglar to tie up a householder where the alternative is that the burglar will kill the householder. [God's Justice and Ours By: Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court Justice 18 November 2002]

Scalia Questions Catholic Opposition to Death Penalty (Fox News | Tuesday, February 05, 2002 | AP) – Scalia, who has consistently upheld capital cases, told Georgetown students that the church has a much longer history of endorsing capital punishment. "No authority that I know of denies the 2,000-year-old tradition of the church approving capital punishment," he said. "I don't see why there's been a change."

Scalia Questions Catholic Opposition to Death Penalty (Fox News | Tuesday, February 05, 2002 | AP) - In Chicago on Jan. 25, Scalia said, "In my view, the choice for the judge who believes the death penalty to be immoral is resignation rather than simply ignoring duly enacted constitutional laws and sabotaging the death penalty." His remarks were transcribed by the event sponsor, the Pew Forum.

It is a matter of great consequence to me, therefore, whether the death penalty is morally acceptable, and I want to say a few words about why I believe it is. Being a Roman Catholic and being unable to jump out of my skin, I cannot discuss that issue without reference to Christian tradition and the church’s magisterium discussed earlier in this conference by Cardinal Dulles. Those of you to whom this makes no difference must bear with those portions of my remarks. [God's Justice and Ours By: Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court Justice 18 November 2002]

The death penalty is undoubtedly wrong unless one accords to the state a scope of moral action that goes beyond what is permitted to the individual. [God's Justice and Ours By: Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court Justice 18 November 2002]

In my view, the major impetus behind modern aversion to the death penalty is the equation of private morality with governmental morality. That is a predictable, though I believe erroneous and regrettable, reaction to modern democratic self-government. [God's Justice and Ours By: Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court Justice 18 November 2002]

Few doubted the morality of the death penalty in the age that believed in the divine right of kings, or even in earlier times, St. Paul had this to say : ... "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers, for there is no power but of God. The powers that be are ordained of God.  Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God, and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation, for rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good and thou shalt have praise of the same. For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid, for he beareth not the sword in vain, for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil. Wherefore, ye must needs be subject not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake." Rom 13:1-5. [God's Justice and Ours By: Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court Justice 18 November

This is not the Old Testament, I emphasize, but St. Paul. One can understand his words as referring only to lawfully constituted authority or even only to lawfully constituted authority that rules justly, but the core of his message is that government, however you want to limit that concept, derives its moral authority from God. It is the minister of God with powers to revenge, to execute wrath, including even wrath by the sword, which is unmistakably a reference to the death penalty. [God's Justice and Ours By: Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court Justice 18 November 2002]

Paul, of course, did not believe that the individual possessed any such powers. Indeed, only a few lines before the passage I just read, he said, "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath, for it is written vengeance is mine, saith the Lord." And in this world, in Paul’s world, the Lord repaid, did justice through his minister, the state. [God's Justice and Ours By: Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court Justice 18 November 2002]

These passages from Romans represent, I think, the consensus of Western thought until quite recent times – not just of Christian or religious thought, but of secular thought regarding the powers of the state. That consensus has been upset, as I suggested, by the emergence of democracy. [God's Justice and Ours By: Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court Justice 18 November 2002]

[I]t seems to me that the more Christian a country is the less likely it is to regard the death penalty as immoral. Abolition has taken its firmest hold in post–Christian Europe, and has least support in the church–going United States. I attribute that to the fact that, for the believing Christian, death is no big deal. Intentionally killing an innocent person is a big deal: it is a grave sin, which causes one to lose his soul. But losing this life, in exchange for the next? The Christian attitude is reflected in the words Robert Bolt’s play has Thomas More saying to the headsman: 'Friend, be not afraid of your office. You send me to God' And when Cramner asks whether he is sure of that, More replies, "He will not refuse one who is so blithe to go to him."  . . . For the nonbeliever, on the other hand, to deprive a man of his life is to end his existence. God’s Justice and Ours, 123 First Things 17.

For the non-believer, on the other hand, to deprive a man of his life is to end his existence – what a horrible act. And besides being less likely to regard death as an utterly cataclysmic punishment, the Christian is also more likely to regard punishment in general as deserved. The doctrine of free will, the ability of man to resist temptations to evil is central to the Christian doctrine of salvation and damnation, heaven and hell. The post-Freudian secularist, on the other hand, is more inclined to think that people are what their history and circumstances have made them, and there is little sense in assigning blame. [God's Justice and Ours By: Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court Justice 18 November 2002]

There have been Christian opponents of the death penalty just as there have been Christian pacifists, but neither of those positions has even been predominant in the church. Its current predominance is the handiwork of Napoleon, Hegel and Freud rather than of St. Thomas and St. Augustine. [God's Justice and Ours By: Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court Justice 18 November 2002]

It seems to me that the reaction of people of faith to this tendency of democracy to obscure the divine authority behind government should be not resignation to it but resolution to combat it as effectively as possible, and a principal way of combating it, in my view, is constant public reminder that – in the words of one of the Supreme Court’s religion cases in the days when we understood the religion clauses better than I think we now do – "we are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a supreme being.

In the seminar Scalia were asked about innocent persons who can been executed. He answered: "I think the question, if I got it correctly, was do I think the death penalty is immoral because it will – I have to say it – it will inevitably lead at some point to the condemnation of someone who is innocent. Well, of course it will. I mean, you cannot have any system of human justice that is going to be perfect. And if the death penalty is immoral for that reason, so is life in prison. You think you’re not going to have innocent people put in prison for life? It’s one of the risks of living in an organized human society. And it’s one that we all say, it’s better than the alternative, which is to be subjected to constant crime. I don’t think that the system becomes immoral because it cannot be perfect.”

“Now, we make enormous efforts, in this country more than any others, to make sure that the death penalty is not inflicted arbitrarily or wrongfully. You heard earlier that it’s something like 10 years between the time of the conviction and the ultimate execution of the sentence, during which lawyers and death abolition advocates are scouring the country to find out why this person should not be killed. That’s the best we can do in any human system, so I don’t think you can judge the validity of any criminal law system on the basis of whether now and then it might make a mistake."

“A single case—not one—in which it is clear that a person was executed for a crime he did not commit. If such an event had occurred in recent years, we would not have to hunt for it; the innocent’s name would be shouted from the rooftops.”

"[I] believe that our people’s traditional belief in the right of trial by jury is in perilous decline. That decline is bound to be confirmed, and indeed accelerated, by the repeated spectacle of a man’s going to his death because a judge found that an aggravating factor existed. We cannot preserve our veneration for the protection of the jury in criminal cases if we render ourselves callous to the need for that protection by regularly imposing the death penalty without it." Ring v. Arizona) (concurring).

"Today's decision is the pinnacle of our Eighth Amendment death-is-different jurisprudence. Not only does it, like all of that jurisprudence, find no support in the text or history of the Eighth Amendment; it does not even have support in current social attitudes regarding the conditions that render an otherwise just death penalty inappropriate. Seldom has an opinion of this Court rested so obviously upon nothing but the personal views of its members." Atkins v. Virginia (dissenting).

Where Scalia is caught in an obvious contradiction is in his endorsement of the notion that only those prepared to vote for the death penalty should be allowed on a jury, and that appeals court judges opposed to the death penalty should recuse themselves in capital cases. "There is something to be said," Scalia writes in his dissent in Atkins, "for popular abolition for the death penalty; there is nothing to be said for its incremental abolition by this court." [Atkins v. Va., supra note 28, 536 U.S., at 353 (Scalia, J., dissenting)]

The American people have determined that the good to be derived from capital punishment in deterrence and perhaps most of all in the meting out of condign justice for horrible crimes — outweighs the risk of error. It is no proper part of the business of this court, or of its justices, to second-guess that judgment, much less to impugn it before the world.

“You want to have a fair death penalty? You kill; you die. That’s fair. You wouldn’t have any of these problems about, you know, you kill a white person, you kill a black person. You want to make it fair? You kill; you die.”

On executing minors: "What a mockery today's opinion makes of Hamilton's expectation, announcing the Court's conclusion - that the meaning of our Constitution has changed over the past 15 years—not, mind you, not that this Court's decision 15 years ago was wrong, but that the Constitution has changed. The Court reaches this implausible result by purporting to advert, not to the original meaning of the Eighth Amendment, but to "the evolving standards of decency," of our national society. It then finds, on the flimsiest of grounds, that a national consensus which could not be perceived in our people's laws barely 15 years ago now solidly exists." Roper v. Simmons (dissenting).

On the point of the Court's Roper decision: "I watched one television commentary on the case in which the host had one person defending the opinion on the ground that people should not be subjected to capital punishment for crimes they commit when they are younger than eighteen, and the other person attacked the opinion on the ground that a jury should be able to decide that a person, despite the fact he was under eighteen, given the crime, given the person involved, should be subjected to capital punishment. And it struck me how irrelevant it was, how much the point had been missed. The question wasn’t whether the call was right or wrong. The important question was who [i.e., the Courts or Congress] should make the call." Speech at Woodrow Wilson Center, 2005.

The case of Kansas v. Michael Lee Marsh, wrote:

"...Reversal of an erroneous conviction on appeal or on habeas, or the pardoning of an innocent condemnee through executive clemency, demonstrates not the failure of the system but its success. Those devices are part and parcel of the multiple assurances that are applied before a death sentence is carried out...

Capital cases are given especially close scrutiny at every level, which is why in most cases many years elapse before the sentence is executed. And of course capital cases receive special attention in the application of executive clemency. Indeed, one of the arguments made by abolitionists is that the process of finally completing all the appeals and reexaminations of capital sentences is so lengthy, and thus so expensive for the State, that the game is not worth the candle. The proof of the pudding, of course, is that as far as anyone can determine (and many are looking), none of cases included in the .027% error rate for American verdicts involved a capital defendant erroneously executed...

As a consequence of the sensitivity of the criminal justice system to the due-process rights of defendants sentenced to death, almost two-thirds of all death sentences are overturned....

Like other human institutions, courts and juries are not perfect. One cannot have a system of criminal punishment without accepting the possibility that someone will be punished mistakenly. That is a truism, not a revelation. But with regard to the punishment of death in the current American system, that possibility has been reduced to an insignificant minimum. This explains why those ideologically driven to ferret out and proclaim a mistaken modern execution have not a single verifiable case to point to, whereas it is easy as pie to identify plainly guilty murderers who have been set free. The American people have determined that the good to be derived from capital punishment—in deterrence, and perhaps most of all in the meting out of condign justice for horrible crimes—outweighs the risk of error. It is no proper part of the business of this Court, or of its Justices, to second-guess that judgment, much less to impugn it before the world, and less still to frustrate it by imposing judicially invented obstacles to its execution."

June 26, 2006

The truth, as Justice Scalia showed in his scalding concurrence in Kansas v. Marsh, is that no neutral source has endorsed the notion that, in the modern (post-Gregg) era, a single factually innocent person has been executed in this country:

It should be noted at the outset that the dissent does not discuss a single case--not one--in which it is clear that a person was executed for a crime he did not commit. If such an event had occurred in recent years, we would not have to hunt for it; the innocent's name would be shouted from the rooftops by the abolition lobby. The dissent makes much of the new-found capacity of DNA testing to establish innocence. But in every case of an executed defendant of which I am aware, that technology has confirmed guilt.

“Does [the death penalty] constitute cruel and unusual punishment?” Scalia asked. “The answer is no. It does not, even if you don’t allow mitigating evidence in. I mean, my Court made up that requirement.... I don’t think my Court is authorized to say, oh, it would be a good idea to have every jury be able to consider mitigating evidence and grant mercy. And, oh, it would be a good idea not to have mandatory death penalties...”

At the end of his career on the bench, former Justice John Paul Stevens' view of the death penalty had evolved. Although he voted to reinstate it in 1976, by 2008, he wrote that the death penalty represents "the pointless and needless extinction of life with only marginal contributions to any discernible social or public purposes."

For the first time, in a concurrence in a case dealing with lethal injection, Stevens opined that the death penalty was unconstitutional.

Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, wrote separately to address Stevens' concern.

"The conclusion is insupportable as an interpretation of the Constitution," Scalia wrote, "which generally leaves it to democratically elected legislatures rather than courts to decide what makes significant contribution to social or public purposes."

Scalia argued that the text of the Constitution recognizes the death penalty as a "permissible legislative choice."

"The Fifth Amendment expressly requires a presentment or indictment of a grand jury to hold a person to answer for a 'capital, or otherwise infamous crime,'" Scalia wrote, "and prohibits deprivation of 'life' without due process of law."

Scalia criticized Stevens for "barely" acknowledging a "significant body of recent evidence that capital punishment may well have a deterrent effect, possibly a quite powerful one."

And, as a final blow, he wrote, "I take no position on the desirability of the death penalty, except to say that its value is eminently debatable and the subject of deeply, indeed passionately, held views-which means, to me, that it is pre-eminently not a matter to be resolved here. And especially not when it is explicitly permitted by the Constitution."

“This is an execution, not surgery. . . . Where does that come from, that you must find the method of execution that causes the least pain? We have approved electrocution. We have approved death by firing squad. I expect both of those have more possibilities of painful death than the protocol here.”

During the speech, Scalia noted the presence of the protests, and said that he found no contradiction between his Catholic faith and his support of the death penalty. He added, "If I thought that Catholic doctrine held the death penalty to be immoral, I would resign," he said. "I could not be a part of a system that imposes it." [Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia delivered the keynote address as part of the centennial celebration of the Duquesne University Law School on Sunday 25 September 2011]

Justice Antonin Scalia (born March 11, 1936) is an American jurist who serves as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Appointed to the Court by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, he has been described as the intellectual anchor of the Court's conservative wing. Scalia was born in Trenton, New Jersey, and attended public grade school and Catholic high school in New York City, where his family had moved. He attended Georgetown University as an undergraduate and obtained his Bachelor of Laws degree from Harvard Law School. After spending six years in a Cleveland law firm, he became a law school professor. In the early 1970s, he served in the Nixon and Ford administrations, first at minor administrative agencies, and then as an assistant attorney general. He spent most of the Carter years teaching at the University of Chicago, where he became one of the first faculty advisers of the fledgling Federalist Society. In 1982, he was appointed as a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by President Ronald Reagan. In 1986, Scalia was appointed by Reagan to the Supreme Court to fill the associate justice seat vacated when Justice William Rehnquist was elevated to Chief Justice. Whereas Rehnquist's confirmation was contentious, Scalia was asked few difficult questions by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and faced no opposition. Scalia was unanimously confirmed by the Senate, and took his seat on September 26, 1986. In his quarter-century on the Court, Scalia has staked out a conservative ideology in his opinions, advocating textualism in statutory interpretation and originalism in constitutional interpretation. He is a strong defender of the powers of the executive branch, believing presidential power should be paramount in many areas. He opposes affirmative action and other policies that treat minorities as groups. He files separate opinions in large numbers of cases, and, in his minority opinions, often castigates the Court's majority in scathing language.

"Indeed, the decision that capital punishment may be the appropriate sanction in extreme cases is an expression of the community's belief that certain crimes are themselves so grievous an affront to humanity that the only adequate response may be the penalty of death." 


The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate (but largely discretionary) appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases. The Court, which meets in the United States Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C., consists of a chief justice and eight associate justices who are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Once appointed, justices have life tenure unless they are removed after impeachment.
Marshall F. McComb (May 6, 1894 – September 5, 1981) was an American jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California from 1955 to 1977. Former Justice of the California Supreme Court wrote in 1972

Our dangers do not lie in too little tenderness to the accused. Our procedure has been always haunted by the ghost of the innocent man convicted. It is an unreal dream. What we need to fear is the archaic formalism and the watery sentiment that obstructs, delays, and defeats the prosecution of crime.

Billings Learned Hand ( /ˈlɜrnɨd/ LURN-id; January 27, 1872 – August 18, 1961) was a United States judge and judicial philosopher. He served on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and later the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Hand has been quoted more often than any other lower-court judge by legal scholars and by the Supreme Court of the United States. Born and raised in Albany, New York, Hand majored in philosophy at Harvard College and graduated with honors from Harvard Law School. After a short career as a lawyer in Albany and New York City, he was appointed as a Federal District Judge in Manhattan in 1909 at the age of 37. The profession suited his detached and open-minded temperament, and his decisions soon won him a reputation for craftsmanship and authority. Between 1909 and 1914, under the influence of Herbert Croly's social theories, Hand supported New Nationalism. He ran unsuccessfully as the Progressive Party's candidate for Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals in 1913, but withdrew from active politics shortly afterwards. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge promoted Hand to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which he went on to lead as the Senior Circuit Judge (later retitled Chief Judge) from 1939 until his semi-retirement in 1951. Scholars have recognized the Second Circuit under Hand as one of the finest appeals courts in the country's history. Friends and admirers often lobbied for Hand's promotion to the Supreme Court, but circumstances and his political past conspired against his appointment. Hand possessed a gift for the English language, and his writings are admired as legal literature. He rose to fame outside the legal profession in 1944 after giving a short address in Central Park that struck a popular chord in its appeal for tolerance. During a period when a hysterical fear of subversion divided the nation, Hand was viewed as a liberal defender of civil liberties. A collection of Hand's papers and addresses, published in 1952 as The Spirit of Liberty, sold well and won him new admirers. Even after he criticized the civil-rights activism of the 1950s Warren Court, Hand retained his popularity. Hand is also remembered as a pioneer of modern approaches to statutory interpretation. His decisions in specialist fields, such as patents, torts, admiralty law, and antitrust law, set lasting standards for craftsmanship and clarity. On constitutional matters, he was both a political progressive and an advocate of judicial restraint. He believed in the protection of free speech and in bold legislation to address social and economic problems. He argued, however, that the United States Constitution does not empower courts to overrule the legislation of elected bodies, except in extreme circumstances. Instead, he advocated the "combination of toleration and imagination that to me is the epitome of all good government".

“We keep our hands out of a flame because it hurt the very first time (not the second, fifth or 10th time) we touched the fire and it is from this it can be contemplated why I strongly adhere to the doctrine that a criminal who has brutally taken somebody’s life has no natural right to his own life and should be paying with his own life, it is because the value of a life can only be explained by the people who were dependent on that life, and as for thinkers who think that punishment should be more reformative then I contend that capital punishment is reformative, we are reforming, not the hanged individual.”

Ralph Adam Fine is a justice on the Wisconsin Courts of Appeal (District I). He has served in this position since 1988. His current term expires on July 31, 2012. Judge Fine earned his bachelor's from Tufts University in 1962, and his LL.B. from Columbia Law School in 1965. Currently, Fine is an Appellate Judge for the Wisconsin District I Court of Appeals where he has served since 1988. Prior to joining the court of appeals he served as a Circuit Court Judge for Milwaukee County from 1979 to 1988 and presided in over 350 jury trials. He is author of Fine's Wisconsin Evidence, Escape of the Guilty, The Great Drug Deception, and several other books on trial law. Fine was the presiding judge in the PBS Frontline production Inside the Jury Room, which was the first time jury deliberations in a criminal trial were filmed and broadcast. Judge Fine has taught trial-advocacy, evidence, and appellate-advocacy at over one-hundred continuing-legal-education programs around the country, at in-house trial-advocacy programs to law-firm litigation departments, and as Professorial Lecturer in Law at the George Washington University National Law Center in Washington, D.C. In January of 1995, the University of Virginia School of Law honored Judge Fine with the Honorable William J. Brennan, Jr., Award for his contributions to the teaching of trial advocacy. Ralph Adam Fine has written many times for the Federalist Society as it denotes he is more of a tradtionalist judge. Fine, has had in his judicial philosophy that plea bargining is the equivalent of being proven guilty and at times has convinced defendants in his courtroom to go to trial with a high success rate. Judge fine is an Elected Member of the American Law Institute and a recipient of the William J. Brennan, Jr. Award. Fine analyzed legal issues on 60 Minutes, Nightline, and PBS' The NewsHour, as well as a periodic guest on Crossfire and Larry King Live. From May, 1974, through December, 1975, he was a reporter for WITI-TV, the Milwaukee CBS television affiliate. Two of his reports won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club for journalistic excellence. From 1975 to 1978, he was host of A Fine Point, which featured such guests as Nobel laureates Elie Wiesel and Milton Friedman.

1992 - During another interview, Sabo called himself a "tough judge," but emphasized that he also is fair and impartial and has always followed the law.

"I didn't commit the crime," he said. "I was only the mechanic through which the jury verdict was carried out."

Albert F. Sabo (December 21, 1920–May 8, 2002) was an American lawyer and judge of the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. He is best known for presiding over the 1982 murder trial of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Sabo served as a judge from 1974 until his retirement in 1998. Born in Philadelphia, Sabo grew up in the Northern Liberties neighborhood and graduated from Roman Catholic High School in 1938. He earned two degrees from the University of Pennsylvania: a bachelor's degree in economics from the Wharton School in 1942 and a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1948. Sabo was a World War II veteran and part of the United States Army Air Corps. For 15 years while on the bench, Sabo exclusively heard homicide cases. Sabo presided over 31 cases that resulted in the imposition of the death penalty, which was reported in 1992 by The Philadelphia Inquirer to be the most in the state. In 1995, in the time before Abu-Jamal was scheduled to be executed, Sabo had 24-hour security due to angry, offensive faxes and calls directed to him. On September 15, 1995, Sabo denied Abu-Jamal a retrial. Sabo died in 2002 of heart failure. At the time of his death, he was living in the Mount Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia.

The capital punishment opinion came in 1994, when Judge Beezer, writing for the majority in a 6-to-5 decision, said that hanging was an acceptable form of execution.

The ruling was in the case of Charles Rodman Campbell, a death row inmate who had been convicted of killing two women and a girl and who objected to the method of execution to which he had been sentenced: by hanging. He contended that hanging amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. Washington State offered lethal injection as an alternative form of execution, but only if the condemned person requested it. Mr. Campbell said his religious convictions would not permit him to choose between methods.

Judge Beezer ruled that when it hanged people, the state exercised proper safeguards against slow death by strangling and other possibilities of unnecessary cruelty. “Campbell is not entitled to a painless execution, but only to one free of purposeful cruelty,” the judge wrote.

Robert Renaut Beezer (born July 21, 1928; died March 30, 2012) was a United States Federal judge. Born in Seattle, Washington, Beezer received a B.A. from the University of Virginia in 1951 and an LL.B. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1956. He was a U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Lieutenant from 1951 to 1953. He was in private practice in Seattle, Washington from 1956 to 1984, serving as a judge pro tem on the Seattle Municipal Court from 1962 to 1976. On March 2, 1984, Beezer was nominated by President Ronald Reagan to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated by Eugene Allen Wright. Beezer was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 27, 1984, and received his commission on March 28, 1984. He assumed senior status on July 31, 1996. Beezer died in Seattle from lung cancer on March 30, 2012, at age 83.

Just as the legislature legitimately may conclude that capital punishment deters crime, so it may conclude that capital punishment serves a vital social function as society’s expression of moral outrage. (Robert Bork, brief for the United States in Gregg v. Georgia before the U.S Supreme Court)

Look at the Pope’s words in Evangelium Vitae: The state “ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today, however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are rare, if not practically nonexistent.” (Emphases deleted and added.) Two things are to be noted. First, imprisonment does not exact just retribution for particularly horrible crimes. Death penalty cases involve crimes of almost unbelievable savagery and brutality. [Robert Bork on Scalia & Capital Punishment Oct 2002]

Life imprisonment does not, in any event, fully protect society. Imprisoned murderers have killed guards and other prisoners. They have been paroled or escaped and killed again. Just two years ago, seven hardened criminals, one of whom was serving eighteen life sentences, escaped from a maximum-security Texas prison. A few weeks later, while robbing a sporting goods store, they killed a police officer, shooting him thirteen times and then driving over his body. The blood of the murderers’ new victims is at least partially on the hands of those who make the execution of such killers impossible. [Robert Bork on Scalia & Capital Punishment Oct 2002]

Robert Bork A.K.A Robert Heron Bork (March 1, 1927 – December 19, 2012) was an American legal scholar who advocated the judicial philosophy of originalism. Bork served as a Yale Law School professor, Solicitor General, Acting Attorney General, and a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In 1987, he was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan, but the Senate rejected his nomination. Bork had more success as an antitrust scholar, where his once-idiosyncratic view that antitrust law should focus on maximizing consumer welfare has come to dominate American legal thinking on the subject.

SENATOR THURMOND: Would you give the committee your views on the validity of placing some reasonable limitations on the number of post-trial appeals in death penalty cases?

JUDGE THOMAS: The death penalty is the harshest penalty that can be imposed, and it is certainly one that is unchangeable. And we should be most concerned about providing all the rights and all the due process that can be provided and should be provided to individuals who may face that kind of a consequence.

I would be concerned, of course, that we would move too fast, that if we eliminate some of the protections that perhaps we may deprive that individual of his life without due process. I believe that there should be reasonable restrictions at some point, but not to the point that an individual is deprived of his constitutional protections.

Clarence Thomas (born June 23, 1948) is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States since being appointed in 1991. Thomas is the second African American to serve on the Court, after Thurgood Marshall, whom he succeeded.