February 2013 Bar Bulletin
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From the Desk of the Executive Director

KCBA Calls for End to Death Penalty

By Andrew Prazuch

The Board of Trustees approved a resolution on January 16 calling for the end of the death penalty in Washington. I thought you might be interested in learning how the Board reached its decision and what some possible next steps might be for the bar on this issue.

Our work began almost two years ago, when then-KCBA President Joseph Bringman suggested that one topic for consideration by our then-newly constituted Public Policy Committee could be whether the death penalty was a legitimate punishment option for our criminal justice system. Many other states have considered this question, with 17 having repealed the death penalty.

The Public Policy Committee, under the leadership of Andrew Maron, began looking at this in depth in January 2012, with a briefing by representatives of Safe & Just Alternatives, the statewide coalition working for repeal of the death penalty in Washington. Based on committee member interest in additional details, a subcommittee was then formed to look at the issue in more depth.

That group included KCBA members Neal Black, Ben Greenberg, Pamela Grinter, Ken Henrikson, Dan Kilpatric, Karen Murray, John Ruhl and Scott Smith. They spent months doing research and speaking to proponents and opponents of the death penalty, ultimately presenting their findings to the full committee last September. Specifically, the subcommittee recommended that a policy forum be organized to educate KCBA members and leaders about this complex issue.

At the end of November, the University of Washington School of Law hosted KCBA for a half-day seminar. A wide range of speakers shared their knowledge and perspectives, including Kathryn Ross of Washington Death Penalty Assistance Center; former King County Prosecuting Attorney Christo­pher Bayley; current Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe; retired Whatcom County Superior Court Judge David Nichols; and attorney Mark Prothero, who was one of the attorneys who represented confessed "Green River" killer Gary Ridgway.

Among the most compelling arguments in favor of eliminating the death penalty were:

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