Recently a friend sent me an article entitled “What’s killing inmates on Florida’s Death Row?” Apparently the political group PolitiFact Florida wanted to do a “fact” check on comments that Florida’s House of Representative Speaker Dean Cannon made to a group of reporters last month, in which he stated that “Florida judicial system has the authority to take away not only a person’s liberty, but also a person’s life. Understanding the severity and irreversibility of that penalty, we have a responsibility to ensure that justice is administered not only fairly, but also efficiently”
Speaker Cannon went on to complain “ The number of inmates since 2000 on death row dying of natural causes has now surpassed the number of inmates executed. Significant and unreasonable delays plague the current process of conducting state post conviction review in these cases and it appears that there is little that the Supreme Court can do to improve or streamline the process”
For those unfamiliar with Speaker Cannon, he is an uber-conservative pro-death penalty career politician who worked with the current Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady back when Florida elected Jeb Bush as governor. Together they wrote up what became known as the “Death Penalty Reform Act of 2000”, which the Florida legislature passed into law attempting to adopt the Texas death penalty appeal process limiting capital appeals as a means of expediting more executions.
What was especially troubling about this legislative action was that it took the deliberate position that Florida would accept the inevitable execution of the innocent as a necessary consequence of expediting the executions of the presumably guilty. This “Death Penalty Reform Act” would have prohibited any post conviction appeals based upon newly developed evidence of innocence, even when it is found that the state deliberately concealed this evidence, as has happened too many times.
In one of the very rare exhibitions of moral courage by the Florida Supreme Court, they declared the adoption of this “Death Penalty Reform Act” as unconstitutional. They explained that only the Florida Supreme Court is authorized to adopt rules governing the
Capital post conviction review process responsible for the appellate review of death row cases. But the Florida Supreme Court itself simultaneously adopted new rules that actually did substantially limit capital post conviction appeals.
But the insidious politics of death are never that simple. The ultra conservative pro-death politicians like speaker Dean Connor were not happy when the Florida Supreme Court dared to tell them they must abide by the constitution, so they abused their political power to change the Florida Supreme Court by putting their own hand picked justices on the court that would do what they told them to do.
It took a few years, but bruised political egos don’t heal quickly. They took their time to stock the deck. Now the stage is set as in the recent 2010 elections the conservative Republicans succeeded in winning a “super-majority” in both the Florida house of representative and the Florida Senate. Additionally, they put “Tea Party” Republican conservative Rick Scott in as Florida Governor. But that’s not all, in the past few years they stocked the deck in their favor on the Florida Supreme Court. Those of us who remember the “Death Penalty Reform Act” remember that it was Charles Canady who acted as then Governor Jeb Bush’s General Counsel in defending this draconian action before the FSC, its defeat was a personal defeat for Charles Canady, but in politics nothing ends that easily.
Where is Charles Canady now? As of June 2010, he is now the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court, after being politically appointed to the Florida Supreme Court by Republican governor Charlie Crist. This is yet another example of how the politics of death deliberately corrupt the entire judicial process. But you won’t see Florida’s mainstream media talking about this. They sold their souls long ago and no longer have the balls to take on government corruption. Besides, more executions mean more controversy and controversy sells newspapers. Killing the possibly innocent is really good business for America’s mainstream media.
A few generations ago politicians like Dean Cannon would have stood in the town square wearing a white sheet, while advocating the lynching of blacks. But that’s no longer politically correct so the white sheet becomes a 3-piece suit – but the mentality is the same. This is the Deep South and some things never change.
Funny thing is that while they scream about the need to expedite executions, they never once recognize that Florida leads the nation in the number of wrongful convictions in capital cases – and that the leading cause of innocent people being condemned to death is prosecutional misconduct. But do we ever hear politicians talking about going after prosecutors who deliberately conceal or fabricate evidence, knowing they are sending an innocent man to death row? No, of course not.
Americans today have become consumed by hate and vengeance, even to the point where a large number of Americans believe that executing a few innocent people is perfectly acceptable as long as it means executing more guilty ones. That’s an easy position to tale when you’re on the outside looking in and not the one who is about to be executed for a crime you didn’t commit. I’m sure they’d feel completely different if it was them.
In the upcoming months we will again see Speaker Dean Cannon rally his pro death politicians to pass new laws attempting to adopt the draconian rules limiting death row appeals in Florida. They will attempt to do this with as little attention as possible and only once adopted will they jump up on their political soap boxes and tell the public what a wonderful job they have done.
This time it will almost certainly pass as now Speaker Cannon knows that they’ve stocked the Florida Supreme Court with their own politically appointed “brethren”. And chief Justice Charles Canady is already slobbering at the mouth in anticipation for finally winning the political fight he lost in 2000 – now he controls the court and they will do what he demands of them.
As these political manipulations unfold the one thing they will not talk about is how the evidence is growing that in Texas’ own rush to execute as many people as possible, numerous innocent people have been put to death for crimes they did not commit. Nobody – especially the mainstream media – will talk about how expediting executions by eliminating death row appeals will substantially increase the inevitable certainty that innocent people will be executed.
How many people must die before America grows a conscience and says enough is enough? Funny thing about evil tyrants is we don’t see them for who they really are until its too late. History will have to judge Speaker Dean Cannon