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Old 02-13-2006, 12:01 PM   #1
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Ken Starr Involved In Fake Clemency Letters?

Prosecutors: Jury's Morales Letters Faked

By DAVID KRAVETS, Associated Press Writers Sat Feb 11

Lawyers for a death row inmate, including former Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr, sent fake letters from jurors asking California's governor to spare the man's life, prosecutors said Friday.

The jurors denied they thought Michael Morales deserved clemency because some of the testimony at his trial may have been fabricated, said Nathan Barankin, spokesman for Attorney General Bill Lockyer.

"We showed each person the declaration on their behalf and they all said they didn't say that," Barankin said.

San Joaquin County prosecutor Charles Schultz also said the letters sent to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last week were "untrue" and "pure fiction."

Starr was not immediately available for comment, said a spokeswoman for the Pepperdine School of Law, where Starr is the dean.

Morales' other clemency attorney, David Senior from Los Angeles, said he stood by the validity of the six sworn statements he and Starr sent to the governor. He suggested that the jurors might have gotten cold feet when they were contacted by prosecutors in the last two days.

"When the D.A. and A.G. show up with badges and guns and say whatever, they can intimidate a lot of people and that's their game," Senior said.

On Friday, the San Joaquin District Attorney's office sent Schwarzenegger a new batch of sworn statements from five of those jurors saying they not only still supported capital punishment for Morales, but had never spoken with the defense investigator who claimed to have secured their signatures.

Kathleen Culhane, the San Francisco private investigator who Starr and Senior said had interviewed the jurors, declined to comment.

None of the five jurors involved in the legal tug-of-war, whose names were blacked out of the competing clemency documents to protect their privacy, could immediately be reached for comment.

Morales is scheduled to be executed Feb. 21 for the rape and murder of a 17-year-old girl in San Joaquin County 25 years ago.

Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Margita Thompson declined to address the dispute, saying only that the governor, when deciding on clemency, will consider "all the information that is provided to him when making the decision."

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Old 02-13-2006, 12:05 PM   #2
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This has been all over the news here in California. I'm sure Michael Morales has a number of attorneys on his team, including Ken Starr.

I heard an excerpt from an interview from one of the jurors. She said Michael Morales was guilty of lying in wait, torture, rape and murder - the death penalty was clearly deserved.

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Old 02-13-2006, 12:07 PM   #3
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Old 02-21-2006, 09:21 AM   #4
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The execution of a California man was delayed for at least 15 hours early on Tuesday after two court-appointed anesthesiologists walked off the job over ethical concerns.

Michael Morales, whose attorney had recruited former Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr to back his bid for clemency, had been scheduled to die at 12:01 a.m. PST for the rape and murder of an 17-year-old girl in 1981.

The execution could not take place after the doctors refused to be present to give the court-required certification that Morales, 46, was in fact unconscious before the lethal injection was given, thus minimizing the pain.

San Quentin State prison spokesman Lt. Vernell Crittendon said the execution was rescheduled for 7:30 p.m. PST on Tuesday. Without the doctors present, the state will need to alter the chemicals used in the execution.

"While we contemplated a positive role that might enable us to verify a humane execution protocol for Mr. Morales, what is being asked of us now is ethically unacceptable," the doctors said in a statement read by Crittendon.

Defense attorneys had claimed last week that the use of the lethal injection was cruel and unusual punishment, barred by the Constitution.

This prompted a judge to order prison officials to either alter the composition of the lethal chemicals used or make medical experts available to ensure unnecessary pain was not inflicted during the execution.

U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel had expressed concern that two of the three chemicals used in California, which should kill within a minute, sometimes took several minutes before stopping the condemned person's heart. The state then agreed to provide an unidentified anesthesiologist to attend the execution.

In a statement last week, Dr. Priscilla Ray, chairwoman of the American Medical Association Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, condemned the ruling that required the anesthesiologists present.

"The use of a physician's clinical skill and judgment for purposes other than promoting an individual's health and welfare undermines a basic ethical foundation of medicine -- first do no harm," she said. "Requiring physicians to be involved in executions violates their oath to protect lives."

Two last-minute appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay of execution failed late on Monday.


The weeks leading up to Morales' date for execution drew considerable public attention due to allegations of forged documents in a clemency petition filed by the defense team, and a federal judge's ruling that required doctors be on hand to make sure the execution was properly administered.

The scrutiny began when Morales' long-time attorney, David Senior, recruited former Whitewater prosecutor Starr to help in the appeal process. Starr is currently the dean of Pepperdine University Law School.

Even the judge who handed down the death sentence wrote a letter supporting the clemency bid.

Days after they filed a request for clemency with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, San Joaquin County prosecutors accused Starr and Senior of submitting forged documents. The sworn statements of six jurors supporting the clemency bid and another statement from a prosecution witness recanting her testimony were proved to be forgeries by the prosecuting team.

Senior and Starr said they did not conduct the interviews that led to the questionable documents but relied on another attorney. They quickly withdrew the documents but pressed the clemency bid.

Schwarzenegger denied the request on Friday.
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Old 02-21-2006, 09:48 AM   #5
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The AMA chairwoman makes a valid point. All this publicity about the uncertainties involved in lethal injection makes me wonder whether the perception of it as more humane has more to do with it being an easier thing to watch than an easier thing to live, or rather die, through.
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Old 02-21-2006, 09:53 AM   #6
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the use of the lethal injection was cruel and unusual punishment
I don't know how a lawyer can say this with a straight face, especially when you contrast it with the method Morales chose for his victim.

Separately, the judge who ordered that the anesthesiologists be present at the execution was not aware of/ignored simple technology that can meet the proposed objective.

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