The Sun Herald, 12/20/8

Outgoing Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz Jr.’s impassioned call for an end to the death penalty has drawn both criticism and praise.

In what was likely his departing dissent as his tenure on Mississippi’s highest court ends, Diaz says society finally must recognize that “even as murderers commit the most cruel and unusual crime, so too do executioners render cruel and unusual punishment.”

Jimmy Robertson, a Jackson attorney who served on the state Supreme Court from 1983 to 1992, said Diaz laid out a number of points, including that the death penalty is not a deterrent to murder, that were “pretty close to being irrefutable to anybody that’s objective on the question.”

However, Kent Scheidegger, legal director for the pro-death penalty Criminal Justice Legal Foundation in Sacramento, Calif., said Diaz’s opinion is “a litany of the familiar arguments against the death penalty, all of which have been refuted many times over.”