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No Death Penalty in Simpson Case

* I am opposed to capital punishment and so welcome the decision not to seek the death penalty in the O.J. Simpson case (Sept. 10). I have no view as to his guilt or innocence.

But the case demonstrates the wisdom of Justice Harry A. Blackmun, who is not opposed to capital punishment as such, in his position that he could no longer uphold death verdicts because of the inability to administer the punishment fairly. It appears that the guiding force in making the decision in the Simpson case was the district attorney’s committee’s assessment as to whether the trial jury would impose the penalty, not whether the case is one as to which the defendant “deserves” death. The very criteria listed in The Times demonstrate that a decision to ask for, and then a verdict to impose, death must, of necessity, be arbitrary.

Illustrating and emphasizing the point is the story in the same edition of The Times about a person who had been sentenced to die, but as to whom, fortuitously, the ax had not yet fallen, being set free because the main witnesses against him had recanted their testimony, one confessing to the murder.

It is time for capital punishment to go.

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FRED OKRAND

Sherman Oaks

* Simpson’s wealth and years of public adoration are irrelevant if he committed two first degree murders with special circumstances. Legally, if the death penalty is only for people with far less money and public adoration than he, then the law should be rewritten to expressly say so.

Those who support the death penalty must be willing to impose it on all those who deserve it without regard to their wealth and level of public acceptance. Failure to do so will establish a separate moral code for the “privileged” that will destroy every moral code for all of us.

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ALLAN J. FAVISH

Tarzana

* How can the brutal slaying of Ronald Goldman also be considered a “crime of passion” and thereby militate against seeking the death penalty in the Simpson case. It appears the D.A.'s office let its passions and not its professionalism dictate the choice of punishment. If the penalty for heinous murder does not consistently result in the seeking of the death penalty, then those who are in a position to make the choice need to choose one law for all equally. Translation--capital punishment, use it or lose it!

ELLIOT SEMMELMAN

Los Angeles

* After reading that prosecutors said they will not seek the death penalty against Simpson in the slayings of his former wife, Nicole, and her friend Goldman, I thought to myself . . . “Did you hear that, Nicole? Why did not you and Ronald think of that . . . before you were ‘put on trial’?”

JIM HULGAN

Azusa

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* If the district attorney’s office thinks the death penalty will be hard to get in the Simpson case, why not just charge Simpson with disturbing the peace in a quiet Brentwood neighborhood? That should be an easier conviction of which to convince a jury.

BARRY KRAUSE

Santa Monica

* Those Phoenix residents who say they’d acquit Simpson based on what they know about the case know as much as the rest of us--almost nothing (“D.A.'s Office Hired ‘Focus Group’ in Simpson Case; Acquittal Favored,” Sept. 2).

Their description of Deputy Dist. Atty. Marcia Clark as pushy, aggressive, etc., however, does tell us a lot--that literally millions of people in this country, both male and female, highly resent the long overdue changes that have led women to begin assuming their rightful place in society.

Frankly, I think Clark is quite intelligent, articulate, and talented. Oh what a world will be wrought when we permit the intelligence of the Marcia Clarks, Hillary Clintons--of all people regardless of their gender, race, or religion--to be applied to the serious problems that have plagued humankind since, to borrow a phrase, the whole rigmarole began.

DALE RANSFORD

Arcadia

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* The prosecuting attorneys are wise in requesting sequestering of the Simpson case jurors (Sept. 3). What I don’t understand is the concern for the length of time that the jurors will be sequestered. An incident, about half a century ago, required some of us to be away from home for two years or more. This came under the heading of patriotic duty. Serving on a jury is also a patriotic duty. Or are the descendants of the draft dodgers surfacing again?

I simply cannot believe that, in all of Southern California, it is going to be so difficult to compile a fair and dedicated jury. But then, again, these are not the same Americans that I left in 1942.

GEORGE FRENCH

Torrance


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