Michael Addison: New Hampshire's sole death penalty case


originally by: NYTimes.com
published: 14 November 2012

The New Hampshire Supreme Court is devoting Wednesday to hearing the appeal of Michael Addison, who was sentenced to death in 2008 for fatally shooting a police officer. Mr. Addison seeks a new trial or at least a new sentencing hearing and he deserves both. His were riddled with unfairness.

But in illustrating how hard it is to administer capital punishment even-handedly, his case provides an opportunity for the state to take a larger step toward justice by abolishing the death penalty.

Mr. Addison is the only prisoner on death row in New Hampshire. It has not executed anyone since 1939. While it officially replaced hanging with lethal injection as its method of execution in 1986, it has yet to build an execution chamber, adopt a protocol for injection or take other critical steps to comply with constitutional requirements.

The death penalty exists there largely for symbolic reasons.

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