Mike Farrell Asks the Governor of Alabama to Stop the Execution of Ronald B. Smith

DPF President Mike Farrell wrote a letter to the governor of Alabama asking him to stop the execution of Ronald B. Smith because Smith’s jury recommended a life sentence, but the judge overrode the jury and sentenced him to death. Only Alabama allows a judge to override a jury’s sentence in a death penalty case.

Dear Governor Bentley,

Please consider the circumstances of the case of Ronald B. Smith, Jr., who is scheduled to be executed under your authority next week. The circumstances surrounding Mr. Smith’s trial and the fact that the jury decision in his case could not result in a death verdict in almost any other state in our nation should compel a special consideration before such an irrevocable act is committed.

If I may quote Mrs. Esther Brown of the NAACP’s Death Penalty Moratorium Committee, you told her that when “the individual had received justice according to the law and had been sentenced by a group of his peers” you would not consider granting clemency. As you doubtless know at this juncture, the sentence Mr. Smith was given by his peers was that he should not be executed. The judicial override that is responsible for Mr. Smith’s impending death is now being challenged in the only other state in the union that allows such a thing to occur.

Surely, sir, this is a case that demands your careful attention.

I hope and trust that the special circumstances of this matter, the malfeasance of the accused’s defense attorney being only one of them, will move you to recognize that the life of a human being that hangs in the balance deserves your notice and demands your compassionate attention.

Sincerely yours,

Mike Farrell
President, Death Penalty Focus

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