This column in todays N.Y Times makes some very cogent points, many of which echo
my own observations and opinions about these very same issues.
The excerpt below is particularly spot-on.
Courts have ruled that it is improper for prosecutors to cast capital cases in those terms, saying it is unfair for them to pressure jurors to evaluate capital punishment generally instead of focusing on the circumstances of the individual crime and the specific defendant.
"But some death penalty proponents say Dr. Petit’s unusual role in Connecticut may be worrisome to the defense for an additional reason. They say crime victims who are pro-death penalty seldom get the level of public attention that he has.
In other cases, when the relatives of murder victims have said the defendants do not deserve death, they have been embraced by defense teams, creating something of a double standard here, said Robert Blecker, a professor at New York Law School who is a nationally known proponent of the death penalty.
“When you have survivors who are against the death penalty,” Professor Blecker said, “the defense is perfectly capable of — and does — parade them in public to call for life. So why, when you have an articulate survivor who is in favor of the death penalty, does it suddenly become unfair?”