Lawmakers debate 2 ways to make death easier in Colorado

Lawmakers debate 2 ways to make death easier in Colorado

Whether the Grim Reaper will register as a lobbyist remains to be seen, but Death’s agenda is up for debate in two forms at the Capitol this week.

One proposed law on tap for legislators would make it easier for juries to sentence someone to death. Currently it takes a unanimous vote of all 12 jurors, but Republican Sen. Kevin Lundberg of Berthoud wants to get that number down a little lower. Like, maybe nine. Or 10. Or maybe 11 jurors. But not all 12. That just makes executing someone in Colorado too hard, he says. He doesn’t like the idea that one lone holdout could spoil a death sentence.

“If the policy is that the death penalty is appropriate for the worst of crimes, then a jury should not be composed of people who disagree with that basic point,” Lundberg told The Colorado Independent about his bill. Critics of the measure say it might not pass constitutional muster, and the bar shouldn’t be lowered for easing executions.

The senator will make the case for his legislation at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to the Senate calendar.

Meanwhile, lawmakers will also discuss this week whether terminally ill patients in Colorado should be allowed to end their lives with the help of a doctor under certain circumstances. Proponents call it death with dignity. Critics deride the practice as assisted suicide.

House lawmakers are scheduled to debate a bill about the issue on the House floor Wednesday.

The legislation isn’t novel. Five states already allow it, and lawmakers haggled over a similar bill last session that died unsurprisingly in a legislature where Republicans control the Senate and Democrats control the House.

*UPDATE: Lobbyists in Colorado register once a year, on or before July 15. The Grim Reaper’s name currently does not appear in Colorado lobbyist registration documents maintained by the Secretary of State. 


[Photo credit: Paul Kline vie Flickr]

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About the Author

Corey Hutchins

is a journalist in Colorado, and Columbia Journalism Review's Rocky Mountain correspondent for the United States Project. Follow him on Twitter @CoreyHutchins and email him at CoreyHutchins [at] gmail [dot] com.

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