Thanks to reporter Joe Gyan for addressing the important issue of the expense involved in defending (and prosecuting) capital cases in your Sunday edition. The U.S. Supreme Court has said “death is different” in the criminal justice system, and has recognized the importance of having at least two capitally certified lawyers, with fact and mitigation investigators, in every case. Contrary to sources quoted in the article, we are far from providing “Cadillac”defenses even when following those guidelines.
What was missing from the article, and what I personally called to the attention of Gyan when he interviewed me, is the fact that at least six individuals were given death sentences in Louisiana and were later exonerated based on actual innocence, after collectively spending decades on death row. This is an unacceptable error rate when death is the potential outcome. There are over 100 nationally, more than 20 in Florida — this is not unique to our state.
One does not have to have personal qualms against the death penalty to recognize that it is more expensive than life without parole, and that the criminal justice system makes mistakes, which have fatal consequences in these cases.
John Di Giulio
trial level compliance officer,
Louisiana Public Defender Board,