A group of 75 legal scholars from across the United States released a letter today noting that Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey “seeks the death penalty with an enthusiasm and consistency unmatched by many of her counterparts across the country.” And, “As academics and legal scholars acutely aware of its failings, we are deeply disturbed by this practice. Not only does Lacey seek and obtain the death penalty more often than almost any other prosecutor, but those sentenced to death under her watch have also been exclusively people of color.”
The letter was spurred by a report released recently by the ACLU, that found that since Lacey took office in 2012, 22 people have been sent to death row, all of them people of color. And of those 22, eight had lawyers who were previously or subsequently disbarred, suspended or charged with misconduct, and a ninth defendant had a lawyer who repeatedly fell asleep through his trial.
What’s more, according to the report, “Per capita, Los Angeles over the last five years has had more death sentences than 53 of the 58 counties in California. And over that same period, produced more death sentences per capita than any large county in Texas, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Utah, Washington, or Georgia.”
LA Deputy DA Michele Hanisee, in her frequent tirades against the moratorium Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in March, repeatedly accuses the governor of “thwarting the will of the people.” But when you consider that voters in Los Angeles twice supported ballot initiatives to abolish the death penalty (2012 and 2016), who’s really thwarting the will of the voters? Gov. Newsom with his moratorium, or Jackie Lacey with her death penalty machine churning out more death sentences than anywhere else in the country?
Hers is a shameful and indefensible record, as these legal scholars point out. We can only hope she’ll hear them.
You can read the entire letter here.