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Citing ‘brutality’ of death penalty, judge calls for guillotine, firing squad

Judge Alex Kozinski called the death penalty “barbaric” and “vicious”


Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Alex Kozinski poses for a portrait in the lobby of a Washington office building, Thursday, July 24, 2014.

AP Photo/J. David Ake

By C1 Staff

WASHINGTON — In an interview with CBS News this week, Ninth Circuit Appeals Judge Alex Kozinski called for a return to the use of guillotines and firing squads for executions.

“It’s 100 percent effective, and it leaves no doubt that what we are doing is a violent thing,” he said.

His reasoning behind the methods stems from his belief that the death penalty is a vicious thing and the public largely ignores the barbarity of it.

“If we’re going to take human life, if we’re going to execute people, if the state is going to snuff out a human being,” Kozinski said. “We should not fool ourselves into thinking that it’s anything but a violent, brutal act.”

While Kozinski is not anti-capital punishment, he told CBS lethal injection is not the way to go about executions.

“I think the use of lethal injection is the way of lying to ourselves, to make it look like executions are peaceful, are benign, are sort of like going to sleep, and they’re not,” he said.

Kozinski said that he has reservations about how prosecutors handle certain death penalty cases.

In 2013, Kozinski overturned Debra Milke’s conviction of conspiring with two men to kill her son, on the grounds of no evidence. She spent 22 years on death row and was the second woman in the U.S. to be exonerated from death row.

According to CBS, the case depended on the testimony of Detective Armando Saldate, who said Milke confessed. There was no recording, no signed document or witnesses to confirm the confession. The jury believed Saldate’s word over Milke’s and she was sentenced to death.

Milke completed a dry run of her execution, but appeals attorneys discovered Saldate’s personnel record showed misconduct and lying under oath, according to CBS. Kozinski determined the information was withheld from the jury, and ruled Milke did not receive a fair trial.