Emperor Newsom and Californians Distrust of Government

Michele Hanisee
President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys

If you want an example of why a staggering 61% of Californians distrust their state government, look no farther than Governor/Emperor Gavin Newsom.

In the past seven years, California voters three times voted on death penalty initiatives and made clear they want the death penalty in place and enforced. This week, in spite of the express will of the voters, Governor Newsom announced a moratorium on the death penalty while he remains in office because the death penalty was “inconsistent with our bedrock values and strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a Californian.”

While Emperor Newsom’s move was celebrated by the anti-death penalty cadre in California, it was hardly a profile in courage. A courageous politician would have made it clear while running for Governor that one of his first acts would be to halt implementation of the death penalty. Not Newsom. Instead, as recently as 2016 while campaigning for a failed initiative to repeal the death penalty, Newson promised in this video interview he “would be accountable to the will of voters” and “not get my personal opinions in the way of the public’s right to make a determination of where they want to take us as it relates to the death penalty.”

Emperor Newsom likely resorted to the moratorium because the passage of Proposition 66 and the ensuing challenges to any remaining stay orders issued by the courts were creating a very real likelihood that executions could occur during his term.

Since the death penalty was reinstated by initiative  it can only be altered by the voters, or as specifically provided for in the initiative language. Similarly, commutations or pardons for twice-convicted felons (which constitute a large number of those on death row) require the approval of the Supreme Court, a fact ex-Governor Brown discovered to his chagrin this past year.

Emperor Newsom’s order trampled on justice for the victims of the brutal killers who a jury decided should be put to death. There are 24 murderers on death row who have exhausted all appeals and should be executed. We will highlight those cases and their victims in upcoming blogs.

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