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Massachusetts governor introduces death penalty bill

[JURIST] MA Gov. Mitt Romney [official website] filed a bill Thursday to reinstate the death penalty in Massachusetts for deadly acts of terrorism, killing sprees, murders involving torture, and the killing of law enforcement authorities. Romney's bill uses ten recommendations set out by a special commission [report, PDF] last year as the basis for the capital punishment legislation. The panel was formed to design a "foolproof" death penalty law by relying on tougher legal safeguards including verifiable scientific evidence and a higher standard of "no doubt" of guilt for juries instead of "beyond a reasonable doubt." The bill also calls for a pool of certified capital case lawyers to ensure proper representation for indigent defendants and allows jurors who do not support the death penalty to serve in the guilt phase of the trial. The bill, which appears unlikely to pass, met immediate resistance from death penalty opponents and several Democrats in the state Legislature who have already defeated numerous bills to reinstate the death penalty. The state Supreme Judicial Court abolished the death penalty in 1984. Massachusetts is one of only fourteen states that either have no capital punishment law or had their law abolished by state high courts. Read the Romney press release. The Boston Globe has more.

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