Mukasey Refuses Federal Death Penalty Prosecution

Could we finally be done with the Ashcroft-Gonzales era of seeking the death penalty even in the face of opposition from federal prosecutors? We might actually be doing better than that.

Today, U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey showed he might be taking a different tack. North Dakota U.S. Attorney Drew Wigley announced today that Mukasey had rejected seeking the death penalty against several defendants in a drug conspiracy case involving an alleged murder:

The decision was announced Friday by U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley, after he received a letter from U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey. Wrigley said it was a short statement by Mukasey.

"He now sets the record for the most direct of the three attorneys general I've worked for. I'll leave it at that," Wrigley said.

The latest decision came in the case of defendant Martin Avila, age 21, accused of being a fugitive and a meth trafficker who used a firearm to kill Lee Avila of East Grand Forks, Minn. Avila is one of "more than 60 people charged in the case known as Operation Speed Racer."

Mukasey also rejected death filings against three other defendants accused in Avila's death.

"The facts are obviously well-known to them," said Wrigley, referring to the Justice Department. "We put together an entire synopsis with every possible aspect of the case and they considered it very thoroughly (in the death penalty decision)."

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    interesting (none / 0) (#1)
    by Deconstructionist on Sat Mar 01, 2008 at 07:25:59 AM EST
    "Nine people have been considered for capital punishment in Wrigley's tenure as U.S. attorney for North Dakota."

      Given the small population and low crime rate in North Dakota that's a large number of referrals for capital punishment consideration in 7 years, even considering 4 of them are from this one case.

      Does that mean anything? I don't know because I know very little about ND, but it may be that Wrigley is more inclined to request DOJ to approve CP prosecutions than are most United States Attorneys and that this decision is more the result of the nature of this particular case than a significant shift in policy at Main Justice.

    Maybe he's just a bloodthirsty SOB (none / 0) (#2)
    by scribe on Sat Mar 01, 2008 at 08:01:13 AM EST
    who wants to kill as many people as he can under cover of law, viewing that sort of behavior as the path upward in Republican politics.

    Heaven knows how many Republicans have made their electoral and political careers on pushing and advocating for just that sort of behavior.  Most of the current crop, I'd suppose.


    I wonder whether Mukasey will listen (none / 0) (#3)
    by scribe on Sat Mar 01, 2008 at 08:05:26 AM EST
    as rapidly to his former colleague, Judge Jack Weinstein of the Eastern District (Brooklyn), who told the AUSAs in his courtroom to drop the demand for capital punishment in a case before him, given there was zero chance the defendant would get capital punishment and they'd be wasting millions of government dollars (particularly since the defendant is getting PDs).

    One would hope so.