Fired U.S. Attorney Testifies Gonzales Disregarded Death Penalty Advice
Paul Charleton, the former U.S. Attorney for Arizona who was fired by Attorney General Gonzales, testified before Congress yesterday and said Gonzales was "overzealous" in his determination to seek the death penalty, often against the advice of prosecutors in charge of the case.
The Bush administration has so far overruled prosecutors' recommendations against its use more frequently than the Clinton administration did.
The pace of overrulings picked up under Gonzales's predecessor, Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, and spiked in 2005 and 2006, when the number of times Gonzales ordered prosecutors to seek the death penalty against their advice jumped from three to 21.
One example is the case of meth dealer Jose Rios Rico. Charleton describes Gonzales' unwillingness to listen to his arguments against seeking the death penalty based on the lack of forensic evidence showing Rico was the murderer:
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