Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Death Penalty

Death Penalty/Quaker Schools/Politics and Economics/Death Row Inmate Campaigns Against Alito's Nomination to Court/Forward/New York/NY/USA/28-Dec-05// You might think Antuan "Tony" Bronshtein would be grateful to Judge Samuel A. Alito, President Bush's nominee to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court.

After all, Bronshtein, a convicted killer and Pennsylvania death row inmate, has a new lease on life, at least temporarily, thanks to Alito's controversial decision as a federal appeals judge to set aside Bronshtein's death sentence.

But he is not grateful.

Instead, Bronshtein is campaigning to block Alito's Supreme Court nomination.

In letters written from his prison cell to members of the U.S. Senate and the press, the Soviet-born convict argues that Alito violated established law, his own writings, and Bronshtein's civil rights — all to burnish his reputation as a hard line, pro-death penalty judge and improve his Supreme Court prospects.

Bronshtein first made his claims in a hand-written court filing last June, four months before Alito's nomination. He elaborated on them in a series of telephone interviews with the Forward from the State Correctional Institution in Waynesboro, Pa.

In his court filing, Bronshtein described Alito's April 2005 ruling as "a dishonorable and politically motivated affront to justice."

Bronshtein said that although Alito heard arguments in his case in April 2003, he stalled his ruling for two years, waiting until after Bush's November 2004 reelection, because he knew he was a potential high court nominee.

"If Bush hadn't been reelected," Bronshtein said, "he would have thrown out the conviction," instead of merely setting aside the death sentence. ......But the trial was flawed from the beginning, Rossi said. The flaws began during jury selection, when two jurors, both with Jewish-sounding names, were stricken from the list. That raised what Rossi believed was a possible challenge, based on a 1986 Supreme Court ruling, Batson v. Kentucky, prohibiting the disqualification of potential jurors on the basis of race. Some federal rulings have defined Jews as a "race."

The reasons for the two jurors' dismissal remain controversial. The defense claimed both were removed by the prosecution because of their ethnicity. The prosecution said one juror was dismissed for unrelated reasons, and it questioned the other because she had attended a Quaker high school, raising concerns that she might not be willing to impose the death penalty.….


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