Eliminate death sentences to reflect the major inadequacies of the criminal justice system

Jury trials (or bench trials before a judge) do not prove whether someone is innocent or guilty. They produce a result and the system requires the result to be followed as if the result were actually true. But there are too many persons who have been executed who we find out later were not guilty. And this is in death-penalty cases where everyone bends over backwards to give the defendant his/her due process of law. But this is not enough. The prosecutor wants to win and still has his/her bag of tricks to obtain a guilty decision, even when the person is not guilty (in any type of criminal matter). Civil cases often wind up with unjust results for a variety of reasons, many of which are economic. The criminal justice system has the same problem, and the assigned counsel for indigent defendants are generally of no value to a defendant in fighting the criminal charges. Criminal lawyers today have adjusted to the fact that 98% or so of all major criminal matters are pleaded out (with the defendant pleading guilty, whether he/she did the crime or not). As a result, the criminal lawyers are no longer trying criminal cases, or even preparing for the trial of criminal cases. Instead they are earning their money in what is known as a "fee and plea" deal, in which the new criminal client is charged a fee and when that fee is used up (and any other fees that the lawyer can get the defendant to pay), the lawyer then urges the client to plead guilty, because of three main factors: (i) the cost of trial is too much for the usual defendant to afford; and (ii) the prosecution has so many advantages and abusive prosecutorial techniques that the defendant has no chance; and (iii) if he/she doesn't plead guilty, the defendant will get 3 to 10 times as much time from the judge, who is obliged (at least in federal court) to sentence the losing defendant according to very long sentences when all "enhancements" are taken into account.

As NYS Attorney General I would be looking for legal doctrines that enabled any death sentences to be postponed until such time as the underlying problem is cured. For most death-penalty defendants, this would mean a life sentence.

Until prosecutors stop abusing their power, the death sentence should be eliminated.