2003 Legislation
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HOUSE BILL NO. 122 – Death penalty commission


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H0122................................................................by BIETER
DEATH PENALTY - Adds to existing law to provide for the temporary suspension
of the death penalty; to provide for the creation of the Idaho Death Penalty
Commission; and to provide for membership and duties of the commission.
01/24    House intro - 1st rdg - to printing
01/27    Rpt prt - to Jud

Bill Text

  ||||              LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF IDAHO             ||||
 Fifty-seventh Legislature                 First Regular Session - 2003
                              IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
                                     HOUSE BILL NO. 122
                                         BY BIETER
  1                                        AN ACT
  6    Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Idaho:
  7        SECTION  1.  That  Chapter  25,  Title 19, Idaho Code, be, and the same is
  8    hereby amended by the addition thereto of a NEW SECTION, to be known and  des-
  9    ignated as Section 19-2515B, Idaho Code, and to read as follows:
 11    SION. (1) No execution of a defendant shall take place for two (2) years  from
 12    the effective date of this section.
 13        (2)  Death penalty commission created.
 14        (a)  In  order  to  conduct  a  fair,  unbiased and impartial study of all
 15        aspects of the death penalty as imposed and administered in  Idaho,  there
 16        is hereby created a commission on the death penalty to consist of nine (9)
 17        members;  one  (1) member from each political party in the house of repre-
 18        sentatives, to be appointed by the speaker of  the  house  of  representa-
 19        tives;  one  (1)  member  from  each  political party in the senate, to be
 20        appointed by the president pro tempore of the senate; one (1) member to be
 21        appointed by the state appellate public defender or designee thereof;  one
 22        (1)  member to be appointed by the attorney general or a designee thereof;
 23        and three (3) members to be appointed by the governor from a list of  five
 24        (5)  nominees  submitted  by the board of commissioners of the Idaho state
 25        bar. Officials charged with the appointment of members to  the  commission
 26        shall  appoint  such  members  as to reflect an ideological balance on the
 27        issue of the death penalty to ensure that the study of the  commission  is
 28        fair,  unbiased and impartial. Members of the commission shall serve with-
 29        out honorarium or compensation but shall be reimbursed for actual and nec-
 30        essary expenses pursuant to section 59-509(b), Idaho Code. The  commission
 31        shall be appointed on or before July 1, 2003.
 32        (b)  The  commission on the death penalty shall hold public hearings where
 33        witnesses shall have an opportunity to testify regarding  issues  relevant
 34        to  the  imposition  and administration of the death penalty in Idaho. The
 35        commission is authorized to create an internet website and other means  to
 36        communicate  with the public and invite citizen input and comment. In mak-
 37        ing its findings and recommendations, the commission shall hear  testimony
 38        from  the victims of crime, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, defense
 39        lawyers, and members of society with an interest in the administration  of
 40        criminal justice.
 41        (c)  The  commission  on  the  death  penalty shall be given access to all
 42        information relating to death penalty cases and first degree murder  cases
 43        maintained by the Idaho supreme court, inferior state courts, the attorney
  1        general,  county and state prosecutor offices, county public defenders and
  2        the state appellate public defender. The commission is authorized to  con-
  3        tract  with universities for research assistance in collecting and analyz-
  4        ing information on all aspects of the death penalty as imposed and  admin-
  5        istered in Idaho.
  6        (d)  The  commission  shall  review  all  aspects  of the death penalty as
  7        imposed and administered in Idaho. As part of its study, the commission on
  8        the death penalty may review and analyze all cases  in  which  charges  of
  9        first  degree  murder  committed  on or after January 1, 1975, were filed.
 10        Such review and analysis shall examine all available data concerning:
 11             (i)    The facts of the offense including mitigating and  aggravating
 12             circumstances, and information on the impact of the crime;
 13             (ii)   The county in which the charges were filed;
 14             (iii)  The charges originally filed;
 15             (iv)   The  crime  for which the defendant was convicted or entered a
 16             plea of guilty;
 17             (v)    The sentence imposed;
 18             (vi)   The age, race, gender, religious preference, and economic sta-
 19             tus of the defendant and of the victim;
 20             (vii)  Evidence that the defendant was mentally retarded;
 21             (viii) The cost per disposition and implementation of sentence;
 22             (ix)   The identity, number and experience level of  defense  counsel
 23             at trial, appeal and post-conviction;
 24             (x)    The  identity, number and experience level of trial and appel-
 25             late prosecutors, including employees and staff of the attorney  gen-
 26             eral; and
 27             (xi)   The  results of any post-conviction review in state or federal
 28             court.
 29        (e)  In considering the experience level of attorneys and the adequacy  of
 30        resources  as  described in subparagraphs (ix) and (x) of paragraph (d) of
 31        this subsection, the commission shall consider the experience and training
 32        levels required by the Idaho supreme court, the  experience  and  training
 33        levels required by the courts and laws of other jurisdictions in which the
 34        death  penalty  is  imposed,  and the recommendations of national associa-
 35        tions.
 36        (f)  The review conducted by the commission shall include  criminal  homi-
 37        cide charges filed during the period of review.
 38        (g)  The  commission shall report its findings and recommendations regard-
 39        ing the death penalty, including remedies for any  deficiencies  found  by
 40        the  commission,  to  the governor, the legislature, and the Idaho supreme
 41        court by January 1, 2005.
 42        (h)  The commission shall make recommendations for amendments to the stat-
 43        utes and court rules pertaining to cases in which  the  death  penalty  is
 44        sought or imposed to provide assurances that:
 45             (i)    Defendants  who  are  sentenced to death are in fact guilty of
 46             first degree murder;
 47             (ii)   Defendants in cases in which the death penalty is  sought  are
 48             provided  adequate and experienced counsel and adequate resources for
 49             the defense of their cases at trial;
 50             (iii)  Defendants in cases in which the death penalty is imposed  are
 51             provided  adequate and experienced counsel and adequate resources for
 52             the defense of their  cases  at  the  appellate  and  post-conviction
 53             stages;
 54             (iv)   Race  does not play an impermissible role in determining which
 55             defendants are sentenced to death;
  1             (v)    Appellate and post-conviction procedures are adequate to  pro-
  2             vide  a  fair  opportunity  for  the  courts of this state to correct
  3             errors and injustices that occurred at trial in cases  in  which  the
  4             death  penalty  is  imposed  including,  but not limited to, allowing
  5             access to physical evidence for later testing and analysis;
  6             (vi)   All prosecutors throughout this state use similar criteria  to
  7             determine whether to seek the death penalty in a case involving crim-
  8             inal homicide;
  9             (vii)  The  imposition  and  administration  of  the death penalty in
 10             Idaho comports with constitutional  principles  and  requirements  of
 11             fairness, justice, equality and due process;
 12             (viii) The  death  penalty  is  appropriate policy when comparing the
 13             financial costs to the state of imposing  a  death  sentence  and  of
 14             imposing  a  sentence to life imprisonment without the possibility of
 15             release;
 16             (ix)   The death penalty is effective in deterring others  from  com-
 17             mitting similar crimes; and
 18             (x)    That  statutory  aggravating  factors are appropriate and that
 19             the jury instructions defining such are understandable to jurors.
 20        SECTION 2.  An emergency existing  therefor,  which  emergency  is  hereby
 21    declared to exist, this act shall be in full force and effect on and after its
 22    passage and approval.

Statement of Purpose / Fiscal Impact

                      STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
                            RS 12705
The punishment of death carries an especially heavy burden to be free
from error. The fairness of the death penalty has recently come under
serious scrutiny. Nationwide, over 100 people have been exonerated of
the crimes for which they were sentenced to death, including two in
Idaho. There are many systematic problems that result in innocent
people being convicted. Now is an appropriate time to ask if the death
penalty has fulfilled the promise of justice and fairness made over 20
years ago.

Whatever one thinks of the death penalty, everyone agrees that our
government sometimes makes mistakes, and that we should take
reasonable, responsible steps to prevent more mistakes from being made.
Justice is a process, one that needs to be constantly improved to make
it as fair and just as possible.

It is necessary to place a moratorium on executions, and appoint a
Commission on the Death Penalty to review whether the application of
the death penalty is consistent with constitutional requirements of
fairness, justice, equality and due process.

                          FISCAL IMPACT
Fiscal impact to the General Fund will not exceed $50,000
                                             FY 2003 & FY 2004
4 Regional Public Meetings 10@$300x4         12,000
4 Local Meetings/Boise 9@$200x4              7,000
General Meeting Costs                        1,000
Contract Death Penalty Expert                25,000
Printing Costs/Final Report                  5,000
Total Costs                                  50,000

LSO provides secretarial support.
LSO professional staff works with contact expert.
Meeting locations are state office buildings, except for regional
Contract for Death Penalty Expert = $50x500 (or any combination of).

            Name: David H. Bieter
                  Phone:     332-1243
      STATEMENT OF PURPOSE/FISCAL NOTE                          H 122