Michael Ross

Here in Connecticut we are going through the painful process that accompanies the first state execution about 40 years. The prisoner is Michael Ross, a man so despicable, whose crimes are so heinous, it’s tough for death penalty advocates or opponents to use him in their arguments.

He has asked that his execution go forward.

Whether this execution, or any execution, is right or wrong will be left for another day. I don’t know, and my gut feeling says there are better places to debate the issue&#185.

What has become astoundingly clear is the cost in time and human effort to bring this to a conclusion. Ross has received stays, all of which have been vacated. In the meantime, each successive question becomes a life and death question and demands a coterie of lawyers, judges and staff.

All the major issues involved in this case have been settled. All the hearings and considerations now concentrate on issues apart from his actual crimes. This morning another technicality has delayed the execution until, at least, Monday evening.

From the New York Times:

One of Mr. Ross’s lawyers, T. R. Paulding, said early this morning that “a question has been raised about a conflict of interest about my continued representation of Michael Ross. I feel it is imperative to address this before his execution can proceed.”

If that seems cryptic, it is. Attorney Paulding didn’t explain what the actual conflict was.

I have heard how expensive it is to execute a prisoner, and now I better understand why. In order to cross every ‘t’ and dot every ‘i’ the process becomes laborious. In some cases, it seems as if the minutiae has trumped the larger points.

In 1977, Gary Gilmore, condemned to die before Utah’s firing squad, attempted suicide. He was nursed to health before he was shot and killed. It’s all quite strange.

Here in Connecticut, I am sad because I feel so ambivalent toward Michael Ross. Instead of an opinion on whether he should live or die, I have concern because of how the system works… or maybe doesn’t work.

&#185 – For that reason, open comment will not be allowed on this entry. I invite you to email me if this entry hits a responsive chord – but it will be an email we two share alone.

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