Attorneys for a death-row prisoner named Samuel Lopez are asking the courts to delay his execution until the state of Arizona has appointed a new governor. They say that the current governor, Jan Brewer, has appointed “political cronies’ to a clemency board and that the way in which they were appointed isn’t fair or constitutional. The attorneys filed on behalf of Samuel Lopez with the Arizona Supreme Court, saying that their client can’t receive a fair hearing with the state’s current clemency board. According to
ABC News, Brewer overhauled the original board in April, and instead instated her own constituents.
The attorneys argue that the new board is not fair and that they never vote in favor of an execution being delayed or overturned. They defense attorneys also complain that during the selection committee for members of the board the politicians were asked if they would vote on controversial cases that were closed to the public. This is a violation of the law which says that all cases should be open to the public in an effort to bring about accountability. This violation of the public-hearing laws has sparked the criminal defense attorneys into a call for action.
This is the second time that the attorneys have asked for an extension on Lopez’s execution. The fresh clemency board was given four weeks of training before they could review Lopez’s case. When a hearing was held, the court granted that Lopez could have a delay because they believe that he was denied a fair chance for clemency. This is due to the fact that most of the board members had not undergone their required training. The court rescheduled Lopez’s near execution for June 27th instead. Lopez is on death row because of his 1986 conviction of the murder of Estefana Holmes. According to court documents, the woman was raped, robbed, and stabbed in a terrible and prolonged struggle.