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Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014

Court delays may mockery of system

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Maybe I have a morbid fascination with capital punishment or maybe I just see the folly in the odd manner with which we treat the murderers who sit on the death rows of this nation. Rarely does a week pass without some new twist created by defense attorneys to stall the inevitable and delay the execution of a death row inmate.

And this week - of course - is no exception.

I've written before about the plight of Michael Ross, the death row inmate who has now had his date with destiny delayed three times as a result of new court challenges filed by his attorney. And just so you know, Ross has tried to fire the attorney because after years on death row, Ross is ready to die.

Don't expect some 11th hour DNA test to free Ross. No indeed. Ross has confessed to eight murders and says he wants to die to end the pain of the victims' families. Only Michael Ross knows if that's his true motivation but regardless, the attorney and the courts won't grant him that final wish.

Ross was within an hour of execution this past Saturday. But the courts intervened. And then again on Monday, Ross was facing his final hour. But up pops the attorney again. This embarrassing fiasco may be repeated again before this column is printed.

Ross' attorney on Monday convinced a judge that his client is suffering from "death row syndrome" whereby the harsh conditions on death row are so bad they make an inmate want to die instead of living under those conditions any longer.

I guess I'm missing the point here. I would assume conditions on death row are somewhat short of a country club lifestyle. And I could understand how a man facing the same four walls for years on end could opt for a quick, sweet end to his sorry saga.

But if Michael Ross is competent - as the courts have ruled on several occasions - then just maybe he knows what he's doing this time around as well. He killed eight innocent victims, he was tried by a jury of his peers and he has said he is ready to meet his maker. Isn't it due time that his learned counsel steps aside and allows the laws of this land to work? Isn't it time our courts put an end to the cat-and-mouse games that make a mockery of our system of capital punishment?

I think the attorney should be forced to visit the family members of the eight victims and explain his reasoning in trying to keep this killer from his final hour.



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