Michele Hanisee on 790 KABC’s McIntyre in the Morning, August 25, 2017

ADDA President Michele Hanisee appeared on 790 KABC’s McIntyre in the Morning to discuss the California Supreme Court’s ruling on Prop. 66.

Death Penalty Opponents Still Trying to Keep Convicted Murderers Alive

By Michele Hanisee

California voters in November approved sweeping reforms to preserve and fix the state’s broken death penalty system by passing Proposition 66 and rejecting a proposition that would have ended the death penalty in California.

However, within hours of passage, death penalty opponents filed a lawsuit to challenge the initiative, seeking to have it overturned in whole or in part, and the Supreme Court stayed the “implementation of all provisions of Proposition 66” and agreed to hear that case.

The ADDA, along with ten other Deputy District Attorney Associations, has filed an Amicus Curiae (Friend of the Court) response that painstakingly takes apart the arguments against Proposition 66. The lawsuit challenging Prop. 66 brought by former Attorney General John Van de Kamp and Ron Briggs is a frivolous challenge based on patently false claims. The Supreme Court will hopefully see the plaintiff’s challenge for what it is-a desperate last ditch attempt by the losing side in a political campaign to accomplish in court what it failed to do before the voter’s campaign.

Another temporary roadblock was created by the state’s Office of Administrative Law (OAL), which rejected a new lethal injection protocol that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) proposed.

The new protocol replaced the old three-drug cocktail with a single, 7.5-gram dose of one of four barbiturates. The CDCR proposed the new protocol to address legal challenges that the state’s existing execution method was unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment. The state has not executed a criminal since 2006.

However, the OAL took issue with some of the protocol’s provisions in a 25-page decision issued on Dec. 28. Among other things, the office questioned why a 7.5-gram dose would be administered when the CDCR acknowledged 5 grams would be sufficiently lethal; why there would be a $50 cost limit on inmates’ last meals; and why inmates would have the option of taking a sedative before the execution begins.

The CDCR has four months to address those issues and resubmit the protocol to the OAL. However, as the list of objections above demonstrates, death penalty opponents continue to invent excuses to block the resumption of executions. It is noteworthy that last year California passed legislation that allowed the use of drugs for “assisted suicide.” Even if the CDCR proposed to use the same drugs/dosage California now allows for “assisted suicide,” you can be sure death penalty opponents would still object.

One thing these two instances make abundantly clear; despite the will of the state’s voters, now expressed in multiple elections in recent years, those opposed to executions in California will do everything they can to keep duly convicted murderers alive.

Michele Hanisee is President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent representing nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.

Prop. 66 lawsuit is an insult to California voters

By Michele Hanisee

So much for respecting the will of the voters.

The moment the final ballot count proved that voters had enacted Prop. 66 – the death penalty reform initiative – opponents rushed to court to block the initiative. Although the legal challenge is limited to just a few clauses of Prop. 66, the Supreme Court has just announced that implementation of all parts of the initiative will be stayed pending their review of the lawsuit.

Prop. 66 preserved the death penalty for the most heinous criminals by enacting critically needed reforms to the system. The ADDA and our public safety partners worked hard to promote it and secure its passage. At the same time they passed Prop. 66, voters rejected a competing initiative that would have eliminated the death penalty and allowed criminals who kill cops or rape and murder children to live out their lives in prison.

The opponents of Prop. 66 falsely claim that Prop. 66 would disrupt the courts, cost more money and limit the ability to appeal. In fact, it does the exact opposite. Among other things, it will require that a defendant who is sentenced to death be appointed a lawyer at the time of sentence, meaning the defendant’s appeal will be heard sooner. It will require appeals be heard within five years. And it will also allow the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to reduce the cost of housing death-row inmates.

Having failed to convince the voters, death penalty opponents have resorted to the courts to try to thwart the will of the voters. It is cruelly ironic that the opponents are using the same tactics they use in death penalty appeals – frivolous legal challenges in court – to prevent implementation of the initiative that would have reduced the number of frivolous legal challenges in court. The same opponents who claim in one breath that the reforms of Prop. 66 won’t work, also complain in their motion that “It will also make it more likely, and more immediate, for persons sentenced to death to face their executions.”

The basic concept of democracy seems most lost on those who claim to be fighting for due process. Death penalty opponents refuse to accept that the citizens of California voted not just to keep the death penalty but also to reform the appellate court system and ensure the death penalty is carried out in a timely manner.

The Supreme Court’s decision to issue a blanket stay without hearing from the proponents of Prop. 66 is disappointing, but it is, at this point, nothing more than a minor setback. Rest assured the ADDA will vigorously support the effort to defeat this frivolous lawsuit.

Michele Hanisee is President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent representing nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.