PDAA Testifies Before House Judiciary Committee on Capital Punishment & Gov. Wolf’s Illegal Death Penalty Moratorium

June 11, 2015

Harrisburg, PA — Today, on behalf of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association (PDAA), Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico, Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman, and Philadelphia Deputy District Attorney Ron Eisenberg testified before the House Judiciary Committee regarding capital punishment and Governor Tom Wolf’s illegal death penalty moratorium.

In their testimony, Mr. Marsico, Stedman and Eisenberg explained how our current system is fair and just to defendants, that the death penalty is used only in the most extreme circumstances, that the appellate process actually benefits convicted murderers at the expense of victims, and that the various claims by death penalty abolitionists are both factually and legally incorrect.

They explained that due process and other protections for defendants are built into every stage of the various criminal proceedings, that district attorneys seek the death penalty only in rare cases, that the appellate review process is more exhaustive than any other review process in our criminal justice system, and that death penalty opponents cannot cite any current case in which a convicted capital defendant is factually innocent.

They also highlighted the egregious tactics and actions of the Federal Capital Defense Organization, which represents capital defendants throughout the process.  Their conduct has been definitively rebuked by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which recently labeled its behavior in a recent case as “intolerable.”  Despite such conduct, this organization receives over $15 million per year from the federal government to represent capital defendants in Pennsylvania in federal court, and has taken the further deplorable step of representing such defendants in state court, another tactic, which justices in our state Supreme Court have condemned.

The PDAA has called Governor Wolf’s use of the reprieve to impose a moratorium on the death penalty a misuse of his power that ignores the law.

For a complete copy of today’s testimony click here.

Keep up with PDAA on Twitter @PennsylvaniaDAs.