Thursday, November 08, 2007

Shoot 'Em Up

This week I have used my powers, such as they are, for good. No, really.

For those who are not familiar with the evils of law citations, last year I spent a great deal of time in the library doing something known as bluebooking. You check people's cites, make sure the content is accurate, and that it follows the right format. There are many, many, many rules. It sucked the life out of me last year, but undoubtedly helped me get a job, so, you know, not too many grumbles.

It also came in handy when I helped citecheck an amicus brief for a Supreme Court case. No, seriously. My red scribblings on a piece of paper have formatted and checked a Supreme Court brief for content. Ulp. ULP. The case is going to be argued very soon, this term, and supports petitioners' contentions that the three-injection method of execution is cruel & unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. This is based on a lot of scholarship of a prof at my school, whose latest article (The Lethal Injection Quandary: How Medicine Dismantled the Death Penalty) is briefed here and is excellent. It really does explain the utter lack of research or reason behind the lethal injection - except that it makes people feel more comfortable about the death penalty. Another prof had an interesting take on this yesterday, arguing that if society is going to have a death penalty, it shouldn't hide behind ideas of humaneness and false reassurances that the person doesn't suffer or this isn't a violent taking of life. Instead, use a firing squad. Of course, having read that brief I could have told him that both Idaho and Utah actually do have firing squad options. Seriously.

While I see where he's coming from, I like this continual undermining of excuses and reasons for certain methods of the death penalty - I'm hopeful, although not too much, that it will eventually be undermined entirely. It's not soon enough, obviously, but it may bring about a sea change in what people view as acceptable punishment.

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