Possibility of death penalty decided on a basis of 'beyond all doubt' concerns experts
Since Gov. Bruce Rauner, R- Illinois, sent back in an amendatory veto on a house bill that would extend the 72-hour waiting period for sale or delivery of handguns there’s been a lot of conversation about his proposal to reinstate the death penalty. As well as what this means for those have already been convicted.
When Gov. Rauner announced his intent to reinstate the death penalty he also revealed who would be eligible.
“We should have one for killing police officers or for mass murderers. I believe it is appropriate,” Rauner said.
But some say this could cause a grey line in the amount of importance placed on life.
"You know these are all very tough, moral arguments. Doing it as an amendatory veto, given the way that the Constitution is written and has been interpreted, it's unlikely that what the Governor has done would pass," UIS Professor of Political Science Kent Redfield said.
Illinois had previously abolished the death penalty in 2011 under then Gov. Pat Quinn.
But Rauner would look to use the standard of ‘beyond all doubt’ regarding who is eligible for the death penalty.
“There are cases where people are caught right in the act. There’s 100 people who saw and there’s no question to commit a crime. There are other crimes that were committed maybe a year early, there’s no witnesses, there’s limited evidence,” Rauner said.
But that new standard has some defense attorney saying things could get complicated legally.
“It would hide the cords up for years and years and years and I’m not sure anybody could actually be convicted under that standard. Because the defense attorney can always come up with something, whether they didn’t test her fingerprints, or colored chalk was described differently, “Attorney for Noll Law Officer Daniel Noll said.
What defense attorney say this would not change anything for those who have already been charged. Even if their charges are in line with Gov. Rauner’s guidelines.
“It’s really, really unlikely that any law would apply retroactively. It would have to be substantially affect any procedural issues in the case. So, it’s likely that any law that would be cast would be effective from the date it was signed into law,” Managing Partner for Johnson Law Group Brendan Bukalski said.
If the death penalty word overtime, it would’ve only been gone from Illinois for about seven years. But it’s return would have Gov. Rauner’s new standards applied to both a trial as well as an appeal if necessary.
Because this was mentioned in amendatory veto it now goes back to the house.
If the death penalty were to come back it would not be the first time Illinois has brought it back. It was first passed in 1973, then it was struck down by the Illinois Supreme Court in 1975. It was then reinstated in June 1977 and that was upheld in the state Supreme Court until 2011.