August 7, 2015

Jurors reject the death penalty for James Holmes.

"Only one juror needed to dissent for the sentence to be life in prison."
Prosecutors, emphasizing the human toll and indiscriminate cruelty of opening fire on a happy crowd of moviegoers... argued that toll he exacted was so great, and the indiscriminate rampage so horrible, that death by lethal injection was the only just punishment.

But defense lawyers said it was not hatred or a desire for notoriety that propelled Mr. Holmes to plot and carry out the massacre, but a deepening form of schizophrenia that infected his mind with powerful delusions that killing people somehow increased his “human capital.”...
Would you have voted for the death penalty? I would not.

Would you have voted for the death penalty for Holmes?



pollcode.com free polls

ADDED: I've fixed the headline, which originally said "John Holmes," instead of "James Holmes," prompting Laslo Spatula to say "So we expect the death penalty if you have a famously long cock?" And Xmas said: "James! John Holmes has already been hung."

ALSO: Some commenters perceive a flaw in the poll, so here's a second poll, designed to eliminate that flaw:

Would you have voted for the death penalty for Holmes?




pollcode.com free polls

AND: Poll results:

55 comments:

Laslo Spatula said...

So we expect the death penalty if you have a famously long cock?

Maybe I am missing something.

But: cock.


I am Laslo.

Bob said...

Unable to vote, get an error message.

Holmes should have been an involuntary commit. Since he was allowed in public and perpetrated his mischief, he should be as subject to the law as any sane person. Yes on the death penalty.

Xmas said...

James! John Holmes has already been hung.

Laslo Spatula said...

Xmas said...
James! John Holmes has already been hung.

I love you, Xmas.


I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

Ron Jeremy shoots up a theatre; everyone complains that the floor is sticky.

I am Laslo.

PBandJ_LeDouanier said...

The last option seems like an attempt to cover all the bases. So, I'll note that the poll is flawed. There needs to be a filter for any folks who are always opposed to the death penalty. They shouldn't be allowed to vote as if they were part of the jury because they wouldn't have made it to the jury, unless they lied about their views.

Perhaps there could be an additional option: "I would never vote for the death penalty, hence I wouldn't be able to vote against it on the jury."

Freeman Hunt said...

I'm assuming that everyone who is against the death penalty voted against, nearly everyone who is not opposed to the death penalty voted that they'd have to sit through the trial, and the only people who voted for the death penalty must be the few who did sit through the trial.

PBandJ_LeDouanier said...

I guess that, to really cover the bases, Althouse may need an option for the real so-called law and order types:

"I would never not vote for the death penalty, hence I wouldn't be able to vote for it on the jury."

Sebastian said...

"unless they lied about their views"

Which we prevent by doing what?

Capital sentencing is a prime opportunity for Prog subversion.

PBandJ_LeDouanier said...

"Which we prevent by doing what?

Capital sentencing is a prime opportunity for Prog subversion."

You tell me. How would you like to see a Prog juror (e.g. a devout Catholic) punished if they did as you suggested, but a year later it became known that they stop the killing of a killer by lying to get on a jury?

Ann Althouse said...

"So we expect the death penalty if you have a famously long cock?"

LOL.

Sorry.

Fixed.

Ann Althouse said...

Interesting point about the "flaw" in the poll. I don't see that as a flaw necessarily, but if I'd thought about it, I would have put more options. I'll add a second poll and you can see how that plays out.

AReasonableMan said...

For the death penalty to be a deterrent you have to first have a rational actor to deter. In this case I would have voted against the death penalty because he was obviously nuts (non technical term for having more that a few loose screws). But, I would extend this argument to all these mass killers, they are all nuts. They gain nothing real from the murders and almost by definition are behaving very irrationally. If he had killed his parents to get an inheritance or his business partner to gain control of the business you can make a case for the death penalty as a deterrent, since these are rational, albeit very bad actions. Even then you could argue that the love of money has become so obsessive as to constitute a madness.

Gahrie said...

Sometimes you just have to put a rabid dog down for the good of the neighborhood.

Ann Althouse said...

In the new poll, the problem with "I am always opposed to the death penalty, so no" is that if that's your position, you wouldn't qualify to sit on the jury. But you can still pick that option, because the question is "Would you have voted for the death penalty for Holmes?" And you wouldn't have voted for it because you wouldn't be on that jury (assuming you told the truth about your position). So "no" is a proper answer.

Birches said...

I think the death penalty is used too much, but I think this massacre is why the death penalty was invented.

There was no doubt that he committed the murders. He was found at the scene; his apartment was booby trapped to keep police busy and away from the murder scene so that he could murder more people. So no, I didn't sit through the entire murder trial, but if the jury decided that he was competent enough to get a guilty verdict, then he is competent enough to receive the death penalty. I don't think one can justify "life in prison" crazy as an option; at least I could not. But that's just my reasoning.

PBandJ_LeDouanier said...

To be clear: I'm not suggesting another poll.

But, I would have thought that a law prof would also realize that there's another group of folks who wouldn't be allowed on the jury, unless they lie. Presumably there are only a small number of folks who think that the death penalty is always the appropriate punishment for capital murder. But, it's probably not exactly zero percent for the entire country.

Anywho, it's too small of a group of people to justify an option on the poll. At least I'd hope so. OTOH, it would have been an interesting test of the hardcore, eye for an eye law-and-order-ness of the Althouse faithful.

PBandJ_LeDouanier said...

These folks would have an odd option:

"I am always in favor of the death penalty for capital murder, so no"

Ok, I'm getting out of the weeds.

Coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thorley Winston said...

I voted for “Yes” since there is no doubt that he did the deed and if I were on a jury, it wouldn’t matter to me whether he was “insane” or not – he still needs to be put down.

iowan2 said...

He was found competent to stand trial. Knew right from wrong. Planned to kill as many as was possible. Trial should be quick. If the vote for death is brought forward, then the execution should be at sunrise the next day. Yes the death penalty is about revenge, and also deterrence.It is also about ridding the environment of dangerous and deadly organisms.

The Cracker Emcee said...

Stretch his neck. Guess what? A lack of the will to administer definitive justice is also a trait of an uncivilized society. A bearable society requires hard choices and, yes, someone is probably going to end up with an unquiet conscience. We're rapidly reaching the point where there are no adults in the room.

traditionalguy said...

Holmes won. He was smart enough to attack a crowded gun free area with everyon's back turned to him and enough ammo to finish off the children and pregnant women with multiple shots.

Then he won a life of non work at the State's expense from jurors who were far crazier than he ever was.

Ann Althouse said...

"But, I would have thought that a law prof would also realize that there's another group of folks who wouldn't be allowed on the jury, unless they lie. Presumably there are only a small number of folks who think that the death penalty is always the appropriate punishment for capital murder. But, it's probably not exactly zero percent for the entire country."

Fair point.

Chuck said...

Because this is Professor Althouse's blog, and because she thinks about this just like this, I have to ask...

How in freaking hell, can anyone say that they would impose the death penalty WITHOUT having sat through the whole trial and heard all of the evidence (and none of the extraneous information that was not admitted into evidence)? It might as well be asked, how might you be confident that the death penalty should not be imposed, similarly without having been a juror and having heard the evidence?

I can understand generalized debates about the merits of the death penalty. But I don't know of any lawyer who would fall for a question like asking a complete stranger to a trial how they would rule, particularly in something so profoundly personal and individualized as a death penalty decision.

I hope this doesn't betray my own feelings on the death penalty in general. (If you must know, I favor the existence of the death penalty and I'd like to see it used by prosecutors very, very selectively. I honestly don't know how I'd have handled this case if I had been an Arapahoe County Prosecutor. And I sure as heck don't know how I'd have ruled, without benefit of having been a juror.)

n.n said...

If indiscriminate killing of tens of millions of wholly innocent human lives is normal, then abortion or "planning" of a convicted murderer should be easily tolerated in a liberal society.

That said, the parallel of people who support indiscriminate killing of defenseless [wholly innocent] human lives and oppose the basic human right to carry out self-defense is telling.

CWJ said...

As Birches and traditionalguy noted, Holmes appears to have done a lot of very rationale planning for being such a crazy person.

CWJ said...

ARM, sorry. I don't understand your comment at all. Deterrence acts to prevent future actions. What does Holmes mental state have to do with that?

CWJ said...

Rational not rationale.

Anonymous said...

In general, I see life in prison without possibility of parole as a pointless exercise. The idea of prison is that one is there to pay a debt to society, after which they are released. If it's acknowledged by a judge and jury that a debt simply cannot be repaid, death is the more logical sentence, both in that it recognizes the gravity of the crime and doesn't needlessly let someone linger without hope.

Although maybe not valid today as an objection, life-extending technologies may change the answer here. Would it be cruel and unusual to extend a life-sentenced prisoner's lifespan to 100, 150, 200 years?

Paul said...

There are three reasons for punishment.

1) rehabilitation.
2) retribution, balancing of the books.
3) deterrence.

The killer cannot be rehabilitated, but folks who had loved ones killed can see retribution and other would-be killers see him as an example of the consequences, but only if the punishment is severe IN THEIR EYES.

They should have hung him, literally.

Michael K said...

"Holmes should have been an involuntary commit."

This case is part of the ongoing tragedy that is the US lack of rational treatment of the psychotic. This man plus Loughner plus the kid in Connecticut plus most mass murderers are paranoid schizophrenics. Most people who know about them know enough to never get between a paranoid schizophrenic and the door. A social worker forgot this in Santa Monical about ten years ago and was murdered in a mental health clinic,.

We no longer commit schizophrenics and that is evidence of the unseriousness of modern western culture. A good book on this topic is My Brother Ron by Clayton Cramer. My review of the book is here.

The only mass shooters who are not psychotic are the Muslims and the guy in Norway who seems to have been a Nazi although I would not be surprised to learn he is crazy, too.

john said...

The poll is still flawed, Ms. Althouse.

Where is it stated that the triers of fact should also be the triers of the law, when there is also a judge present? The so-called "punishment phase" is nothing more than an excuse to let emotions rule, to let the rabble, with its pitchforks and torches, into the courtroom to have its vengeance, and doing so, negate the orchestrated, if not orderly, progress toward justice.

That was, and should be, the responsibility of the judge alone, who with knowledge of the decision given to him by the jury, has now the authority to exact punishment.

Ken Mitchell said...

Mad dogs should always be put down, and a man who ACTS like a mad dog deserves no better.

We don't punish the mad dog; he can't help it, but we don't want him to EVER bite anyone else, ever again. Same with the man who acts like a mad dog. It isn't "punishment"; no punishment can ever make up for a murder. He should be executed to prevent him from ever killing again.

And the two lifers who escaped from a New York prison should eliminate for all time any talk of "life without the possibility of parole". Guarantee me that it will be "life without the possibility of ESCAPE", and _GUARANTEE_ that, and we can talk.

Otherwise, a mad dog he remains.

Ken Mitchell said...

Paul said...There are three reasons for punishment.

1) rehabilitation.
2) retribution, balancing of the books.
3) deterrence.

You forgot one:
4) Prevention of a repeat offense.

A long-ago Wizard of Id cartoon made the point; a prisoner on the gallows tells the King "Capital punishment doesn't deter crime!" The King says "I'll believe that the next time I see you in my court."

Roughcoat said...

Did he understand the consequences of his acts (i.e., that shooting people would hurt or kill them)?

Did he know what he was doing was wrong (did he know that it was illegal to shoot people)?

If the answer to both is yes, he is not legally insane.

If the answer to both is yes, he was capable of making choices. He made the wrong choices. He made evil choices.

The issue of rational and irrational acts is irrelevant. The issue of mental illness is irrelevant. If was capable of making choices and he chose for evil, he is culpable.

He should get the death penalty.

William said...

I'm in favor of capital punishment. Some crimes deserve an exclamation mark after stating justice has been served. For just that reason, I would be sparing in its use. This guy was crazy. Justice would not be served by executing him.

Roughcoat said...

For the death penalty to be a deterrent you have to first have a rational actor to deter.

The death penalty is not about deterrence. It is about justice and retribution.

Roughcoat said...

This man plus Loughner plus the kid in Connecticut plus most mass murderers are paranoid schizophrenics.

Really? How do you know that?

How do you know that most mass murderers aren't merely evil, and choosing to do evil?

Roughcoat said...

The only mass shooters who are not psychotic are the Muslims and the guy in Norway who seems to have been a Nazi although I would not be surprised to learn he is crazy, too.

Who do you know that Muslim mass murderers and the guy in Norway are not psychotic? How can you tell the difference between non-psychotic Muslim mass murderers and the guy in Norway from paranoid-schizophrenic mass murderers? What sets the two apart?

Define "crazy" in the instance of the guy in Norway. Did he understand the consequences of his acts? Did he know difference between right and wrong? Was he capable of making choices and acting differently than he did?

Steven said...

particularly in something so profoundly personal and individualized as a death penalty decision.

Well, you see, many of us don't think it should be "individualized". I, for example, automatically support the death penalty in any case of a murder that interferes with the administration of justice (killing witnesses to another crime, pursuing/investigating police, judges, or jurors, for example), or is committed by someone already serving a life term, as the necessary escalation past the penultimate penalty.

That includes this shooter, of course, since every victim of the killer past the first one was a witness to the first victim's murder.

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Carnifex said...

I am anti-capitol punishment. Period. I think it demeans our society. Too many innocents are killed already by murder, why add to the total by even one? I respect others have a different view. This is mine.

Ps. I have no problem with someone killing another person in defense of others. Say if someone had a gun in the movie theater and killed Holmes. That person I would regard as a hero.

PPs. It was Paul Ruebens (Pee Wee Herman) who shot up a theater, and made the floor sticky.

Curious George said...

"But defense lawyers said it was not hatred or a desire for notoriety that propelled Mr. Holmes to plot and carry out the massacre, but a deepening form of schizophrenia that infected his mind with powerful delusions that killing people somehow increased his “human capital.”..."

Hmmmmm, interesting.

Do. Not. Care. Light 'em up.

JCC said...

We have a friend of the family who is bipolar, attention deficit, consequently depressed...the entire spectrum. His wife and son take advantage of him, his mother who coddled and protected him for his entire life just died and he's having trouble coping with life. He has a lot of anger and frustration, gets in fights with complete strangers - but never with anyone who isn't smaller or weaker - and has a fascination with firearms. He abuses alcohol and drugs, has manic highs and lows, and occasionally makes serious threats about shooting up places or people. He's dangerous and scary. He's not psychotic, as another poster suggested. He's in touch with reality, just unhappy with it. He wants to hurt people, to somehow even the score, to get back at life because he is at some level so unhappy.
BTW, we finally convinced the family to seize all the guns, commit him temporarily and get him under some serious mental health monitoring. But they were in denial. I think this is a common pattern. They were just hoping it would somehow just get better, go away, on its own.
Had he done something terrible, he should have been held responsible for whatever he did, up to and including the full punishment under the law. He was aware of what he was doing, nuts or not.
So should Holmes have been. I wasn't present for all of the evidence, so I don't know what that should have been. Emotionally, I want to say "Off with his head." Works for me.

Laura said...

Life in prison. Just another lab rat.

Dorothea Dix was delusional. Designing an asylum without locked doors is really a sanitarium. And that is not economically sustainable if available to all.

tim maguire said...

I don't know that the poll needed to be revised. I'm anti-death penalty in all criminal cases. Because the facts of any particular case are irrelevant to my vote against death, I simply would not take the poll.

Jason said...

I am not 100 percent against the death penalty. There are cases for it, for instance, in certain cases of treason or desertion in the face of the enemy, and in street crime cases where there's no element of psychosis. Ted Bundy is a good case in point: He was an extremely rational, intelligent and calculating sociopath and richly warranted the death penalty many times over. But if I'm on the jury, while I'd consider it, my bias is strongly in favor of preserving the sanctity of life, if there's any reasonable doubt about whether the convicted were clinically insane.

In this case, though, I am not persuaded that Holmes was rational or fully under control.

I have a lot of experience with mentally ill people, both on and off their meds. There are some things that they cannot control. Psychosis is a powerful thing. More powerful than any of us, though thankfully most of us don't have to deal with that kind of horrific illness.

I'd be open to arguments that he was fully rational, not suffering from delusions, hallucinations, etc that were beyond his control, and that are separate and apart from the usual delusions of grandeur and narcissism that you usually get with sociopaths and personality disorders. And if I were convinced of that, beyond reasonable doubt, I could vote for the death penalty if I had faith in the due process, etc.

The personality disorders like borderline personality disorder and the other libtard garbage from the DSM IV don't get you off the hook with me, either. It's got to by schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (which is pretty manageable now, though that doesn't mean I let the guy on the street again), etc.) and the like.




Nichevo said...

The efficient thing would have been for the cops to execute Holmes on the scene. Now we have all this expense of trial and, now, medicalized incarceration. The downside of summary executions, aside from whatever concerns about justice, is that I suppose then none, or few of such offenders will quietly submit to arrest. Tough on the cops I suppose, so they will not embrace the liability.

Nichevo said...

Someone please explain why you're not supposed to shoot crazy people? It really seems like the best thing to do with them.

CWJ said...

"But defense lawyers said it was not HATRED or a desire for notoriety that propelled Mr. Holmes..."

When Hate Crimes were added, those opposed, including me, argued that they were a superfluous addition to statutes such as murder. Now we see defense lawyers seemingly arguing that hate is a necessary condition for full application of the penalty for murder. Expected, but none the less interesting.

Jason said...

Someone please explain why you're not supposed to shoot crazy people?

Because they're people.

The Cracker Emcee said...

"I am anti-capitol punishment. Period. I think it demeans our society. Too many innocents are killed already by murder, why add to the total by even one?"

Killing a killer adds not even one to the toll of innocents

walter said...

All it takes is one idiot: "The system worked!"

"They said "hung"..heh, heh, heh, heh.."

Laslo is dropping his balls ignoring the "trigger" of Vietnemese Teens and long cock.

walter said...

But oh..the demeaning stigma:

"Other than the nature of the charges in this case, there is no evidence that Mr. Holmes presents a danger to the safety of the courtroom or a flight risk of any kind," his attorneys wrote.

The defense team claimed that using the restraint is analogous to hitching an animal to the floor. That got a quick response from Judge Carlos Samour, who said the defense motion, "while high on rhetoric, is low in substance."

"Inasmuch as the defendant is charged with 24 counts of first degree murder and 140 counts of attempted first degree murder following a shooting at two adjacent Aurora move theaters, it is not appropriate to allow him to be unrestrained during trial," Samour wrote in an order.

Former Adams County, Colo., prosecutor Bob Grant believes Holmes' lawyers are looking for any issue they can use to launch an eventual appeal. The defense believes having Holmes appear in restraints may also prejudice the jury, Grant said.

"The theory is if the jurors believe Holmes is in jail, he must have done something wrong," Grant told ABC News.