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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev death sentence: Appeals are the price of justice

To the editor: It is false to assume that solely because of the imposition of the death penalty, there will be lengthy appeals of this case — not because that lengthy process will not take place but because the same lengthy appeals would have followed even if convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had been given life without parole. ("Death sentence for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev brings relief to many in Boston," May 15)

An attorney's job is to fight to any extent possible any negative sanction imposed on his client. The only exception is a negotiated deal, and even then, the appellate lawyers file a habeas corpus action to prove that the trial lawyers were incompetent for making the deal.

Additionally, it is important to know that even had Tsarnaev been sentenced to life, he would have been insulated by the double jeopardy clause of the Constitution from being sentenced to death in any retrial — therefore, there would be no risk to appealing a life sentence.

Robert S. Henry, San Gabriel

The writer is a retired capital case coordinator with the California attorney general's office.

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To the editor: I'm hearing a lot about "death qualified" juries now. The act of "qualifying" a potential juror involves querying the candidates as to their sentiments about applying the death penalty. It's indefensible both legally and philosophically.

It's indefensible legally because it asks the potential juror to vote on the penalty to be applied before that candidate has heard any evidence. It gives the prosecution a jury guaranteed to vote "yes" when the punishment phase of the trial begins.

It's indefensible philosophically because it ignores the whole reason we as a nation have juries in the first place. We have juries to prevent the wholesale application of draconian laws and practices in our justice system. Any juror has the option of voting first whether the defendant is guilty of a crime, and second, whether the punishment is appropriate to the crime.

The nation must abandon the death penalty.

Patrick Sullivan, Reseda

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To the editor: The article suggests that Tsarnaev will spend at least 10 years on death row before his sentence is carried out.

I hope that the federal government will fast-track the death sentence to ensure a quick and timely closure to this sad chapter in our nation's recent history.

Matthew L. Patton, Fullerton

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To the editor: Tried, convicted and safely locked away. Now, let's take him out and kill him.

We've sunk to his level.

Bill Say, Simi Valley

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