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

"Immanuel Kant said it best. He said a society that is not willing to demand a life of somebody who has taken somebody else's life is simply immoral. So the question really... when the system works and when you manage to identify somebody who has done such heinous evil, do we as a society have a right to take his life? I think the answer's plainly yes. And I would go with Kant and I would say it is immoral for us not to." (7 November 2007 Hoover Institution Interview)

"Most of us continue to believe that those who show utter contempt for human life by committing remorseless, premeditated murder justly forfeit the right to their own life." 


In his dissent to a 2009 opinion in which the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the death sentence of an inmate named Scott Pinholster, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski offered a hint of the exasperation that exists with an appellate system that can string cases out for years.

The trial in that case had taken place more than a quarter century earlier, Kozinski noted. Pinholster's original lawyers were dead. The California Supreme Court justice who wrote the unanimous opinion in Pinholster's direct appeal was dead.

"Meanwhile, prison has been good to Pinholster," Kozinski wrote. "He sits in his cell reading Machiavelli, Voltaire and all the philosophers, drawing pictures to sell over the Internet. He enjoys the gravitas, authority and mentoring opportunities that come with being an elder in his gang, and has surgery performed on his knees at taxpayer expense. His conscience doesn't trouble him about the fact that he took the lives of two fellow human beings; he has never expressed the least remorse for his killings. The people of California are entitled to put an end to Pinholster's paid vacation."


Brutal facts have immense power; they etched deep marks in my psyche. Those who commit such atrocities, I concluded, forfeit their own right to live. We tarnish their memory of the dead and heed needless misery on their surviving families by letting the perpetrators live. [Tinkering with death 10 February 1997]

Isn’t death by firing squad, with mutilation and bloodshed, more honest? [Tinkering with death 10 February 1997]

It's late Saturday night. Another execution is scheduled for next week, and the machinery of death is humming through my fax. And, despite the qualms, despite the queasiness I still feel every time an execution is carried out in my jurisdiction, I tinker away. I do it because I have taken an oath. But there's more. I do it because I believe that society is entitled to take the life of those who have shown utter contempt for the lives of others. And because I hear the tortured voices of the victims crying out to me for vindication. [Tinkering with death 10 February 1997]

Some federal judges considering death penalty cases say their colleagues should take notice of the suffering of crime victims, not just the possibility that an inmate being executed may feel pain.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday 15 May 2012 refused to block an Arizona execution, rejecting a challenge that injection methods could cause unconstitutional pain and suffering for inmates.

Several 9th Circuit judges’ dissents in the case of Samuel Lopez cited the possibility of pain during injections, but three other judges said Friday in an amended order that such concerns are groundless and misdirected.

While there’s always going to a risk of some pain in an execution because it can be difficult to find veins, the “incomparable suffering the victim endured during the last desperate minutes of her life” must not be ignored, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote for himself and two other judges.

Kozinski quoted from a state court ruling that said there was evidence of a “bloody struggle” throughout 59-year-old Estefana Holmes’ apartment. Holmes she was gagged, blindfolded, sexually assaulted and stabbed at least 26 times.

“The panel delicately omits these facts, as did our previous opinion, which merely referred to the crime as ‘brutal,’ but common decency surely calls on us to acknowledge that Lopez is not the victim here, and whatever pain he may suffer incident to his execution pales in comparison to the agony and terror he inflicted on a defenceless woman whose body he used to state his lust,” Kozinski wrote.

Alex Kozinski (born July 23, 1950) is Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, an essayist, and a judicial commentator. Kozinski was born in Bucharest, Romania. In 1962, when he was 12, his parents, both Holocaust survivors, brought him to the United States. The family settled in Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California, where his father, Moses, ran a small grocery store. Kozinski graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, receiving an A.B. degree in 1972, and from the UCLA School of Law, receiving a J.D. degree in 1975. Kozinski clerked for future Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Ninth Circuit from 1975 to 1976, and then for Chief Justice Warren Burger from 1976 to 1977. From June 5, 1981 to August 1982, Kozinski served as the first U.S. Special Counsel appointed by President Ronald Reagan. In 1982, Kozinski was appointed chief judge at the newly formed United States Court of Federal Claims. In 1985, at the age of 35, Kozinski was appointed to a new seat at the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit by President Ronald Reagan, making him the youngest federal appeals court judge. Defending the court against criticism because of a controversial decision, Kozinski went on record emphasizing judicial independence: "It seems to me that this is what makes this country truly great—that we can have a judiciary where the person who appoints you doesn't own you." He also took a stand against the charge that the Ninth Circuit is overly liberal, which led some to call it "The Notorious Ninth": "I can say with some confidence that cries that the Ninth Circuit is so liberal are just simply misplaced." On November 30, 2007, Kozinski was appointed the tenth chief judge of the Ninth Circuit.

Will the economic slump and every state's need to cut budgets have an impact? Death penalty opponents say the recession has given their effort a new, non-political reason for abolition that resonates on both sides of the debate. But Professor Paul Cassell, the Ronald N. Boyce Presidential Professor of Criminal Law at the University of Utah and a death penalty expert, says that major changes are not likely to occur soon.

"You can make the argument that it is cheaper not to have the death penalty" he said, but that is not what the death penalty is about. The death penalty "provides a sense of justice to the system, is a just punishment for murder and has a deterrent effect on crime," he said. "Besides, the amount of money saved is not that big compared to what the entire justice system spends."

"Moreover," he said, "polls show that 70 to 80 percent of people support the death penalty. And that isn't going to change."

Like most death-penalty proponents, University of Utah law professor Paul Cassell would like the time between conviction and execution to be reduced. Otherwise, he said, the death penalty works well in this country and is structured to be lenient, not barbaric.

"We could make the death penalty apply evenly, but if it's applied evenly, everyone who commits murder gets the death penalty," he said. "The sorting is done by the jury.”

Another account of the death penalty’s direct inhibiting effect on criminal behavior is available from the State of Kansas. United States District Judge Paul Cassell quotes the following history, in a 1988 law-review article that he co-wrote while serving as a federal prosecutor:

“According to the Attorney General of Kansas, one of the contributing factors leading to the 1935 reenactment of the death penalty in Kansas for first-degree murder was the spate of deliberate killings committed in Kansas by criminals who had previously committed such crimes in surrounding states where their punishment, if captured, could have been the death penalty. These criminals admitted having chosen Kansas as the site of their crimes solely for the purpose of avoiding a death sentence in the event that they were captured.”

We're Not Executing the Innocent The Wall Street Journal Friday, June 16, 2000 - The report continues what has thus far been a glaringly one‑sided national discussion of the risk of error in capital cases.  Astonishingly, this debate has arisen when, contrary to urban legend, there is no credible example of any innocent person executed in this country under the modern death‑penalty system. On the other hand, innocent people undoubtedly have died because of our mistakes in failing to execute.

We're Not Executing the Innocent The Wall Street Journal Friday, June 16, 2000 - Colleen Reed, among many others, deserves to be remembered in any discussion of our error   rates. She was kidnapped, raped, tortured and finally murdered by Kenneth McDuff during the Christmas holidays in 1991. She would be alive today if McDuff had not narrowly escaped execution three times for two 1966 murders. His life was spared when the Supreme Court set aside death penalties in 1972, and he was paroled in 1989 because of prison overcrowding in Texas. After McDuff's release, Reed and at least eight other women died at his hands. Gov. George W. Bush approved McDuff's execution in 1998.

We're Not Executing the Innocent The Wall Street Journal Friday, June 16, 2000 - While no study has precisely quantified the risk from mistakenly failing to execute justly convicted murderers, it is undisputed that we extend extraordinarily generosity to murderers. According to the National Center for Policy Analysis, the average sentence for murder and non-negligent manslaughter is less than six years. The Bureau of Justice Statistics has found that of 52,000 inmates serving time for homicide, more than 800 had previously been convicted of murder. THAT sounds like a system collapsing under the weight of its own mistakes -- and innocent people dying as a result.

Abolitionist arguments concerning the death penalty always seem a bit unsatisfying. Concepts of retribution, deterrence, and just punishment are discussed in the most thoughtful terms, but nowhere do we find a clear discussion of the crimes at issue. In some ways, these discussions are a bit like playing Hamlet without the ghost—reviewing the merits of capital punishment without revealing just what a capital crime is really like and how the victims have been brutalized. [In Defense of the Death Penalty]

Associate Professor of Law, University of Utah, College of Law, and former law clerk to Chief Justice Warren E. Burger. Statement before the Committee on the Judiciary, United States House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights Concerning Claims of Innocence in Capital Cases (July 23, 1993) - “Given the fallibility of human judgments, the possibility exists that the use of capital punishment may result in the execution of an innocent person. The Senate Judiciary Committee has previously found this risk to be 'minimal,' a view shared by numerous scholars. As Justice Powell has noted commenting on the numerous state capital cases that have come before the Supreme Court, the 'unprecedented safeguards' already inherent in capital sentencing statutes 'ensure a degree of care in the imposition of the sentence of death that can only be described as unique.'”

“Our present system of capital punishment limits the ultimate penalty to certain specifically-defined crimes and even then, permit the penalty of death only when the jury finds that the aggravating circumstances in the case outweigh all mitigating circumstances. The system further provides judicial review of capital cases. Finally, before capital sentences are carried out, the governor or other executive official will review the sentence to insure that it is a just one, a determination that undoubtedly considers the evidence of the condemned defendant's guilt. Once all of those decision makers have agreed that a death sentence is appropriate, innocent lives would be lost from failure to impose the sentence.”

“Capital sentences, when carried out, save innocent lives by permanently incapacitating murderers. Some persons who commit capital homicide will slay other innocent persons if given the opportunity to do so. The death penalty is the most effective means of preventing such killers from repeating their crimes. The next most serious penalty, life imprisonment without possibility of parole, prevents murderers from committing some crimes but does not prevent them from murdering in prison.”

“The mistaken release of guilty murderers should be of far greater concern than the speculative and heretofore nonexistent risk of the mistaken execution of an innocent person.”

Paul George Cassell is the Ronald N. Boyce Presidential Professor of Criminal Law at the University of Utah and a death penalty expert. He is a professor of law, received a B.A. (1981) and a J.D. (1984) from Stanford University, where he graduated Order of the Coif and was President of the Stanford Law Review. He clerked for then-Judge Antonin Scalia when he was on the D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, and for the Chief Justice of the United States, Warren Burger, before becoming an Associate Deputy Attorney General with the U.S. Justice Department. Professor Cassell was an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia from 1988 to 1991. He joined the faculty at the College of Law in 1992, where he taught full time until he was sworn in as a U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Utah on July 2, 2002. In November 2007, he resigned his judicial position to return full time to the College of Law, to teach, write, and litigate on issues relating to crime victims rights and criminal justice reform. Professor Cassell teaches criminal procedure, crime victims' rights, criminal law, and related classes.

The nature of the death penalty demands that we have confidence in its credibility with respect to guilt. We must evaluate whether there are aspects of our truth finding process that must be evaluated in order to avoid areas of significant vulnerability. Should this only be where death is the consequence? In that regard, I would only say that it must be where death is the consequence.

Punishment must be certain, and it must be swift to garner respect and value.

While a rush to judgment poses a significant danger to the credibility of the judicial process, so too does a casual stroll to judgment. The length of time that death penalty cases consume is simply not justifiable morally or legally. Different approaches must be evaluated and implemented. These include the use of courts of appeal to handle death penalty review, just as circuit courts of appeal are allowed to do in federal death penalty cases. The proposal of the Chief Justice of California should be supported and implemented.

Retribution is not only a need of society; it is a right of those victimized. [No on Prop. 34: Let the death penalty live 28 October 2012]

Every criminal conviction should be based on the highest degree of certainty, and we should certainly shore up weaknesses in the system. No one should be convicted, for example, by eyewitness and informant testimony that is not substantiated by independent evidence. But eliminating the death penalty does nothing to address these issues. [No on Prop. 34: Let the death penalty live 28 October 2012]

We have no way of knowing for certain, of course, how many people are not murdered because of the existence of the death penalty, and there have been studies that concluded the death penalty had no deterrent effect, but I don't find them convincing.

Why? In part because of what I saw over a long career. In cases of premeditated murder, considerable planning often goes into the act, and that planning can include the weighing of what is to be gained against the potential penalties. Any penalty can have some deterrent effect, but the more severe the penalty, the greater the disincentive to commit the crime. [No on Prop. 34: Let the death penalty live 28 October 2012]

If you knew that by executing one guilty person you could save even one or two innocent people from being murdered, the moral choice seems clear. Those who criticize aggressive sentencing laws often ignore the most important moral issue. If we can, through effective sentencing, reduce victimization, then it seems to me we are morally obligated to impose sentences that have that effect. [No on Prop. 34: Let the death penalty live 28 October 2012]

If the death penalty has prevented some people from being murder victims, then doing away with it would create additional murder victims. [No on Prop. 34: Let the death penalty live 28 October 2012]


I would far rather face the moral consequence of the death penalty than the consequence of innocent victims being killed. I choose innocent lives over guilty lives. [No on Prop. 34: Let the death penalty live 28 October 2012]


James A. Ardaiz was the Fifth District of the California Courts of Appeal. He was appointed by Governor Deukmejian and, after his confirmation, took the oath of office on January 1, 1988. He became the Presiding Justice in 1994. Ardaiz retired from the court at the expiration of his term on January 3, 2011. James Ardaiz was born on December 25, 1947 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He graduated from California State University at Fresno in 1970. He went on to receive his law degree (J.D.) from the University of California, Hastings College of Law in 1974. James Ardaiz began his legal career in 1974 as a Deputy District Attorney in Fresno County. He was elected to the Fresno County Municipal Court in 1980. Three years later, he was appointed to the Fresno County Superior Court, where he served until his appointment to the Court of Appeals in 1988. He was nominated to the position of Presiding Justice in 1994.

On November 9, 1983 Associate U.S. Attorney General D. Lowell Jensen told a Senate subcommittee, “It is impossible to punish or even deter such prison murders because, without a death sentence, a violent life-termer has free rein "to continue to murder as opportunity and his perverse motives dictate."

Delwen Lowell Jensen (born 1928) is a United States federal judge. Born in Brigham City, Utah, Jensen received an A.B. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1949 and an LL.B. from the University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law in 1952. He was in the United States Army Corporal from 1952 to 1954. He was in private practice in Oakland, California from 1954 to 1955. He was a Deputy district attorney of Alameda County, California from 1955 to 1966. He was an Assistant district attorney of Alameda County, California from 1966 to 1969. He was a District attorney of Alameda County, California from 1969 to 1981. He was an Assistant U.S. attorney general of Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice from 1981 to 1983. He was an Associate U.S. attorney general of U.S. Department of Justice from 1983 to 1985. He was a Deputy U.S. attorney general of U.S. Department of Justice from 1985 to 1986. Jensen was a federal judge on the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Jensen was nominated by President Ronald Reagan on June 2, 1986, to a seat vacated by William H. Orrick, Jr.. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on June 24, 1986, and received his commission on June 25, 1986. He assumed senior status on June 27, 1997.

On Friday 18 March 2011, a federal judge dismissed an appeal Friday from Nebraska death-row inmate John Lotter, who was convicted in the triple murder that inspired the 1999 film "Boys Don't Cry."

U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf ruled Lotter's case has been sufficiently scrutinized by the Nebraska courts and a federal review wasn't warranted.

"The Nebraska courts, and five (or more) zealous defense lawyers, have expended much sweat and treasure insuring that Lotter received a fair trial, a just sentence, a searching appeal and repeated postconviction examinations. . . . Legally speaking, if Nebraska carries out the sentence, there need be no 'second thoughts,'" the judge wrote in his 66-page decision.

Richard George Kopf (born 1946 in Toledo, Ohio) is a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska. He served as chief judge of that court from 1999-2004. President George H. W. Bush nominated Kopf to the seat in 1992. From 1987 to 1992, Kopf served as a magistrate judge in the same district. Judge Kopf has received considerable press coverage for abortion-related decisions, particularly for his 474-page opinion striking down a ban on late-term abortions in Carhart, et al., v. Ashcroft. His decision included the following apology: "I apologize for the length of this opinion. I am well aware that appellate judges have plenty to do and that long-winded opinions from district judges are seldom helpful....I pity the poor appellate judge who has to slog through this thing. I am truly sorry." Judge Kopf recently dismissed a case over the use of "rape" and "sexual assault" in a rape trial in Lancaster County, Nebraska. Tory Bowen filed a lawsuit against Judge Cheuvront for violating her right to free speech in a rape trial, which Judge Kopf dismissed because Tory Bowen had not shown enough evidence to show her lawsuit was not frivolous. Judge Cheuvront barred the words "rape" and "sexual assault" from the trial, but allowed words such as "sexual intercourse" and "intercourse" to be used instead. Kopf received his B.A. from Kearney State College (now the University of Nebraska at Kearney) in 1969 where he was a member of Phi Kappa Tau fraternity and his J.D. from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 1972. He was a law clerk for Judge Donald Ross in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit for two years following law school and then entered private practice in Lexington, Nebraska. In 1984, he served as counsel for the State of Nebraska in the impeachment of the Nebraska Attorney General. Judge Kopf has served as president of the historical society for the Eighth Circuit and is administrator of the Robert Van Pelt Inn of Court, a legal professional organization.

"As long as there remains powerful evidence of strong public support for the death penalty ... we will not attempt to discern a contrary view of the public will, or to answer complex policy questions best answered by the legislative process," wrote Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers. [Monday 22 November 2011]

Chase T. Rogers is the Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court, the second woman to serve in this capacity. She is a graduate of Stanford University and Boston University School of Law. Rogers is a Connecticut native. She was nominated by Governor M. Jodi Rell and sworn in April 25, 2007, by the first female Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court, Ellen Ash Peters. Prior to her nomination, Rogers served in the appellate court of Connecticut from April 2006 to April 2007. Prior to serving in the appellate court, she served as a superior court judge beginning in 1998. Her assignments included serving as the presiding judge for juveniles matters in Bridgeport and being assigned to the regional Child Session in Middletown. Between 2001 and 2005, she was assigned to the Complex Litigation Docket in Stamford-Norwalk district. Before becoming a judge, she practiced law for 14 years at Cummings & Lockwood in Stamford, Connecticut. She has two children, a son and a daughter. She was married to Edward Vincent O'Hanlan, a lawyer, on December 21, 1985. At their 2011 Fall commencement ceremony, she was awarded an honorary Doctors of Laws degree from the University of Hartford. 

18 February 2011 “There may not be closure today”, but Sheehan says, "I think there is peace."


Brendon Sheehan is the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Court Judge in Ohio. Back in 1982, on Brendon Sheehan's 15th birthday, Frank Spisak killed his father, Timothy, as part of a murder spree at Cleveland State. Spisak was executed Thursday in Lucasville after spending almost 28 years on death row.

According to the Texas Monthly, when Keller was asked in a pre-election interview if she was bound to follow the law, even if it meant an unjust result. “Absolutely,” she replied. “Who is going to determine what justice is? Me? I think justice is achieved by following the law.”

Sharon Faye Keller (born August 1, 1953) is the Presiding Judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the highest court for criminal matters in the State of Texas.

Pennsylvania Chief Justice Ronald Castille complained this year that federally funded public defenders are thwarting the state's legal process through repeated delays and appeals.

"When the families of murder victims and other concerned citizens ask why there is no effective death penalty in Pennsylvania, the dirty secret answer is: ask the federal court," Castille wrote in a sharply worded 34-page opinion this year (2011).

Ronald D. Castille (born March 16, 1944) is the Chief Justice of Pennsylvania. On January 14, 2008, he was sworn in as the Chief Justice. He was the District Attorney of the City of Philadelphia from 1986 until 1991 and is a member of the Republican Party.  

Friday 29 June 2012 - Defense attorneys for a man accused of killing a Trumann police officer sought to remove the death penalty from consideration because of a recent state Supreme Court ruling.

But Circuit Judge Brent Davis ruled that justices didn't negate the death penalty — only the procedure for carrying it out.

That means Jerry D. Lard, 37, of Trumann still faces a possible death sentence if convicted of the April 12, 2011, shooting death of officer Jonathan Schmidt. He's also charged with attempted capital murder in wounding Sgt. Corey Overstreet.

Lard will stand trial on July 16. The case was moved to Greene County on a change of venue from Poinsett County.

The state Supreme Court ruled June 22 that a 2009 act by the Legislature giving the director of the Department of Correction the ability to decide the chemical formula for lethal injection was unconstitutional.

Teri Chambers, one of Lard's court-appointed defense attorneys, argued that the Supreme Court's decision invalidated the death penalty.

"What's the point of having a death penalty trial when you have no method of execution?" Chambers asked.

Greene County Deputy Prosecutor Andrew Fulkerson argued that death by lethal injection was authorized by a 1983 statute, which has previously been upheld by the Supreme Court.

Davis agreed with Fulkerson's interpretation of last week's ruling.

"It doesn't prevent the state from proceeding with a death penalty case," the judge said. "It does not prevent the court from imposing the punishment."

Brent Davis is a judge of the Second Circuit of Arkansas.

A U.S. District Court judge ruled Wednesday 21December 2011 that even if the Arizona Department of Corrections varied from its court-approved protocol for execution by lethal injection, there was no violation of prisoners' constitutional rights.

And even if the drugs used in two of the last five executions in Florence were obtained unlawfully, the Corrections Department did not do so intentionally and knowingly, the judge wrote in his decision.

Judge Neil Wake ruled in favor of the state, denying an injunction requiring the DOC to conform to its established protocol.

"Although criminal background and professional license checks were omitted through inadvertence, the other deviations were authorized by Director Ryan and were neither unreasonable nor undertaken in bad faith," Wake wrote. "None of the deviations identified by plaintiffs create substantial risk plaintiffs will not be properly anesthetized." 

Neil Vincent Wake (born 1948) is a United States federal judge. Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Wake received a B.A. from Arizona State University in 1971 and a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1974. He was in private practice in Arizona from 1974 to 2004. On October 22, 2003, Wake was nominated by President George W. Bush to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Arizona vacated by Paul G. Rosenblatt. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 12, 2004, and received his commission on March 15, 2004.

Monday 11 July 2011, the California Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of a previously convicted triple murderer Monday for fatally stabbing a fellow inmate at Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad in 1997.

Kenneth Bivert, 41, of Yolo County, was sentenced to death in Monterey County Superior Court in 2001 for murdering inmate Leonard Swartz, a convicted child molester, with a hand-made knife.

Justice Kathryn Werdegar wrote, "The jurors may well have regarded the capital crime itself -- the premeditated, unprovoked killing of a fellow inmate by a life prisoner -- as egregious enough to warrant the death penalty."

Kathryn Mickle Werdegar (born April 5, 1936) is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California. She was appointed to the Supreme Court by Governor Pete Wilson in 1994. She was retained by the electorate in November 2002, with 74.1% percent of the vote. She earned her B.A. with honors at the University of California, Berkeley and then attended the (Boalt Hall School of Law) before completing her law degree at the George Washington University Law School, where she graduated first in her class.

A serial killer who kept the decomposing bodies of 11 women in his Ohio home and yard for more than two years was sentenced to the death penalty on Friday 12 August 2011.

Judge Dick Ambrose accepted the jury's recommendation and ruled that Anthony Sowell's troubled childhood and mental health issues did not mitigate the seriousness of his crimes.

"The court gives no weight to the defendant's expression of remorse," Ambrose said in handing down the verdict.

Dick Ambrose is a judge on the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas in Cleveland, Ohio. His current term expires January 6, 2017. Ambrose received a B.S. degree in Education from the University of Virginia and in 1987, his J.D. from Cleveland Marshall College of Law. Prior to his legal career, Ambrose played for the Cleveland Browns from 1975 to 1983. After receiving his law degree, he spent his career in private practice. In 2004, he was elected to the Cuyahoga Court of Common Pleas.

"Things have changed," Frost wrote in a 24-page ruling. "Defendants have tightened procedures and have implemented checklists and safeguards ... that, effectively employed, will serve to reinforce the protocol requirements." [Friday 4 November 2011 - A federal judge on Friday upheld changes Ohio made to its execution policies, saying the state had tightened procedures that the judge previously criticized, such as not having enough executioners on a given day.]

"With some caution, the court today reaches the conclusion that the state of Ohio has apparently learned the lessons of its prior embarrassments and corrected its course," Frost wrote in a 24-page opinion.

Ohio said, in effect, that it was now following its own rules and the U.S. Constitution, Frost said.

"It does not matter to this court whether Ohio has acted motivated by admirable intent or whether it has been begrudgingly dragged toward respectability," Frost wrote, adding that the court remained wary because of the state's past struggles with consistent application of the rules.

Gregory Lynn Frost (born 1949) is a United States federal judge. Born in Newark, Ohio, Frost received a B.A. from Wittenberg University in 1971 and a J.D. from Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law in 1974. He was an Assistant prosecuting attorney of Licking County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, Ohio from 1974 to 1978. He was in private practice in Ohio from 1978 to 1983. He was a judge on the Licking County Municipal Court, Ohio from 1983 to 1990. He was a judge on the Licking County Common Pleas Court, Ohio from 1990 to 2003. Frost currently sits as a federal judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Frost was nominated by President George W. Bush on January 7, 2003, to a seat vacated by George C. Smith. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 10, 2003, and received his commission on March 11, 2003.
John A. Muhammad's "breathtaking cruelty" in masterminding a series of 16 sniper shootings that left 10 people dead in late 2002 warrants the death penalty, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled yesterday. "If society's ultimate penalty should be reserved for the most heinous offenses," Justice Donald W. Lemons wrote, "then surely this case qualifies."

On April 22, 2005, the Virginia Supreme Court affirmed his death penalty, stating that Muhammad could be sentenced to death because the murder was part of an act of terrorism. The court also rejected an argument by defense lawyers that he could not be sentenced to death because he was not the triggerman in the killings done by Muhammad and his young accomplice Lee Boyd Malvo. Virginia Supreme Court Justice Donald W. Lemons said at the time, "With calculation, extensive planning, premeditation and ruthless disregard for life, Muhammad carried out his cruel scheme of terror."

Donald W. Lemons is a Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia currently completing his first 12-year term. He received both his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Virginia.
Evidence of Allen's guilt is overwhelming. Given the nature of his crimes, sentencing him to another life term would achieve none of the traditional purposes underlying punishment. Allen continues to pose a threat to society, indeed to those very persons who testified against him in the Fran's Market triple-murder trial here at issue, and has proven that he is beyond rehabilitation. He has shown himself more than capable of arranging murders from behind bars. If the death penalty is to serve any purpose at all, it is to prevent the very sort of murderous conduct for which Allen was convicted.” 
“His age and experience only sharpened his ability to coldly calculate the execution of the crime. Nothing about his current ailments reduces his culpability and thus they do not lessen the retributive or deterrent purposes of the death penalty.”
Kim McLane Wardlaw (born July 2, 1954) is a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, with chambers in Pasadena, California.

US District Judge William Moore held a hearing on the issue on June 24 2010. On Tuesday, the judge issued a 174-page order concluding that Davis is guilty.

“This court concludes that executing an innocent person would violate the Eighth Amendment,” the judge wrote. “However, Mr. Davis is not innocent.”

While reviewing Davis' claims of innocence last year, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia found that Davis "vastly overstates the value of his evidence of innocence."

"Some of the evidence is not credible and would be disregarded by a reasonable juror," Judge William T. Moore wrote in a 172-page opinion. "Other evidence that Mr. Davis brought forward is too general to provide anything more than smoke and mirrors."


William Theodore Moore Jr. (born 1940) is a United States federal judge. Born in Bainbridge, Georgia, Moore received an A.A. from Georgia Military College in 1960 and an LL.B. from the University Of Georgia School Of Law in 1964. He was in private practice in Savannah, Georgia from 1964 to 1977. He was the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia from 1977 to 1981. He was in private practice in Savannah, Georgia from 1981 to 1994. He was a Pro-tem recorders court judge, Garden City, Georgia from 1984 to 1994. Moore is a federal judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. Moore was nominated by President Bill Clinton on July 13, 1994, to a seat vacated by Anthony A. Alaimo. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on October 7, 1994, and received his commission on October 11, 1994. He served as chief judge from 2004–present. In August 2010, Moore ruled on the prominent Troy Davis case. Davis was a Georgia inmate on death row, accused and convicted of murdering a police officer in 1989. Davis's guilt has been questioned, due to the release of new information, including the complete or partial recantation of the testimonies of seven (out of nine total) prosecution victims. In his ruling, Moore stated that Davis and his legal team had failed to demonstrate his innocence, as the added information was "largely smoke and mirrors" and added only "minimal doubt"; Moore dismissed four recantations as not credible, and two of them as only partly credible, finding that only one was wholly credible. He did not consider the alleged confessions of Redd Cole, another suspect in the case, because of the failure of Davis's lawyers to subpoena Coles and give him opportunity for rebuttal, and suggested that Davis should appeal directly to the Supreme Court. Davis was executed by lethal injection on September 21, 2011.

Wednesday 30 May 2012 - Lauderdale Circuit Court Judge Mike Jones said he never considers the potential cost of incarceration and future legal expenses when deciding if a defendant convicted of capital murder should be sentenced to death. He said that decision is based on the jury's recommendation and the circumstances of the homicide.

When a defendant is convicted of capital murder in Alabama, the jury then hears additional evidence before recommending the death penalty or life in prison without parole as punishment. The judge is not obligated to follow the recommendation when imposing the punishment.

"We don't need to put someone to death because it's cheaper than keeping them in prison for the rest of their life," she said. "At the same time, we shouldn't not put someone to death because it might be more expensive than keeping them in prison. You don't make a life or death decision based on economics."

Jones has imposed the death penalty twice.

He sentenced David Dewayne Riley Jr. to death in 2007 for the 2005 shooting death of Florence package store clerk Scott Michael Kirtley. He sentenced Riley, 27, to death again in 2011 after the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals overturned his first conviction on a technicality. The jury at both trials recommended that Riley receive the death sentence for the execution-style shooting.

Jones said the possible cost of sending Riley to death row never crossed his mind before carrying out the recommendation of the juries.

"The Alabama Legislature may someday decide we can no longer afford to send people to death row," Jones said. "That's a decision they would have to make and until they do, I am going to continue to carry out the recommendations of juries who say someone deserves the death penalty when the circumstances of a murder warrant sending a defendant to death row."

Michael T. Jones is a judge of Circuit 11, Place 2, in Alabama. Jones ran for another term on the court in 2010. He ran as a Democrat and was unopposed. He was elected, earning 100% of the vote.

"Some societies may judge our death penalty barbaric," she noted. "Most Texans, however, consider death a just penalty in certain rare circumstances. Many Europeans disagree. So be it."

Cathleen Cochran Herasimchuk A.K.A Cathy Cochran (born November 11, 1944) is a Republican Judge of the Texas court of last resort for criminal cases, the Court of Criminal Appeals, having been appointed to the Court by Governor Rick Perry in 2001 and re-elected to the Court by Texas voters in 2002 and 2008.

If a criminal court judge sits on the bench long enough, he's bound to handle a capital murder case-a case in which life or death is in the hands of the judge or jury.

"I've always felt the death penalty was something I wish we didn't have but it is necessary in some cases," said Criminal District Court Judge John Stevens. "Because some people are the kind of persons who would hurt an innocent human being given an opportunity in the future." [Tuesday 4 October 2011]

That's a decision a jury made in the case against Lawrence Russell Brewer. He was executed September 21 in Huntsville for the dragging death of James Byrd Junior.

John Stevens was the federal prosecutor in the case. Now, he's the Criminal District Court Judge.

Judge Stevens believes the death penalty is justified in some crimes.

"When they commit a crime we all have to be careful about doing something where they have an opportunity to hurt someone in the future, because if they do that, blood is on our hands," said Judge Stevens.