Legislature(1993 - 1994)
01/26/1994 01:15 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 162 - CAPITAL PUNISHMENT FOR MURDER Number 087 CHAIRMAN PORTER brought HB 162 to the table. Number 110 REP. JERRY SANDERS, Prime Sponsor of HB 162, asked everyone listening to testimony on this bill to keep in mind that there are a few people who are not like those of us in this room, and that it is hard to imagine these cold-blooded predators who threatened our lives and our loved ones. He said even when these people are in custody, they are a threat to law enforcement and corrections officials, along with the possibility they might escape and claim more innocent victims. Number 177 JERRY LUCKHAUPT, Legal Counsel, Division of Legal Services, Legislative Affairs Agency, indicated that he was the bill drafter for HB 162 and the Sponsor Substitute (SS), which is basically identical to SB 127, the Senate version of HB 162. He outlined the differences, the first being that the SS lacks findings and does not ask for an election to seek the death penalty, making it a permissible sentencing option. Mr. Luckhaupt said the next difference relates to the description of the jury finding mitigating or aggravating factors. He said the final change is that the SS lacks flagging Rules of Court, meaning the legislature must have a two-thirds majority to change court rules, and the SS does not require that vote. MR. LUCKHAUPT continued by saying the SS is basically no different in a substantive way than the original bill, and the sponsor believes a two-thirds vote to change court rules is not needed. Number 337 REP. NORDLUND referred to the section of HB 162 that asks the supreme court to expedite appeals, and noted it is not in the SS. He added that the legislation is not dealing with court rule changes up-front. Number 369 MR. LUCKHAUPT responded that it is up to the legislature to decide if they are making changes to court rules, and it must decide if they are making substantive or procedural changes. Number 490 REP. NORDLUND said there seems to be a question of whether it is constitutional. Number 502 REP. PORTER asked Dean Guaneli from the Department of Law for his input. Number 510 DEAN GUANELI, Criminal Division, Department of Law, said he was available to answer questions, and the committee had heard from Mr. McNally in November when he explained the administration's position in great detail. Number 525 REP. PHILLIPS asked for a summary of the governor's position. Number 532 MR. GUANELI replied that rather than try to summarize a fairly lengthy presentation, he suggested that he would have the tape of the hearing transcribed and would make it available for the committee to take a look at. Number 539 REP. NORDLUND said he couldn't remember all of Mr. McNally's testimony, but he thinks he mentioned prosecution needing another tool for law enforcement. Rep. Nordlund pointed out that the problem with the death penalty is that it is inequitable, especially for the poor. Number 576 REP. DAVIDSON asked Mr. Guaneli if this issue would be a monetary-based system, and were there assurances that all people charged with the death penalty would be given access to good counsel. Number 590 REP. PORTER said it is his understanding that in federal death penalty cases, regardless of income, the defendant is given two attorneys. He asked if there was anything in HB 162 similar to federal practice, and asked Mr. Guaneli if he believes that would be the process in Alaska. Number 598 MR. GUANELI responded that there is nothing in the bill that directs that practice; however, something along those lines would be a likely result in rules provided by the supreme court. He directed the question to John Salemi from the public defender's office. Number 621 REP. BETTYE DAVIS testified against HB 162, expressing concern about fairness, racism, cost, and possible mistakes being made. She urged the committee to study the impact of the death penalty on minorities. Rep. Davis concluded that it would be a grave mistake to enact a death penalty. Number 818 REP. NORDLUND cited statistics showing that the death penalty is a racially biased system. Number 841 REP. DAVIS also cited various statistics pertaining to the percentage of minorities in jail, versus white prisoners. Number 850 The committee and Rep. Davis discussed various statistical information pertaining to the death penalty. TAPE 94-10, SIDE A Number 035 BISHOP MICHAEL KENNY testified against HB 162, and focused on the practical issues, such as the effect on society in general. Bishop Kenny said we need to look at better ways to ensure public safety. He opposed the death penalty because it is the ultimate form of violence done by the state; it panders to baser instincts in each of us, and it serves to further alienate and isolate those individuals on the fringes of our society. He concluded, saying that the death penalty creates a false sense of security in society. Number 169 REP. PORTER asked for testimony from John Creighton in Bethel and was informed he had left a written statement for the record. Number 202 TERRY BURRELL of Anchorage testified in support of HB 162. Number 320 MIKE WALLERI, Chief Counsel for the Tanana Chief's Conference, testified against HB 162 and said a disproportionate number of those killed under the death penalty would be Natives and other minorities. He cited cultural factors that impact Natives, including that Natives are more willing to confess to crimes. Mr. Walleri urged the committee to hold a hearing on the racial impact of the death penalty. Number 476 JANICE PRESTON of Homer testified in favor of HB 162 and said that we need more police protection and speedier adjudications of criminal cases. Number 662 CHARLES CAMPBELL, former Director of the Department of Corrections, testified against HB 162, saying it is a futile, senseless practice that has no deterrent value, and is extremely costly. Number 665 MARY S. SOLTIS of Sitka testified against HB 162 and said the focus should be on life imprisonment without parole. Number 711 RICH CURTNER, an attorney from Anchorage, testified against HB 162. He cited his experience in death penalty cases while he was practicing law in Ohio, and cited the cost and emotional toll as reasons to oppose the death penalty. Number 796 REP. PORTER concluded the hearing on HB 162 and stated his intention to continue hearing the bill at the next meeting.