Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Gas Chamber Issue Enters Campaign

October 06, 1994|MARK GLADSTONE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Pete Wilson's reelection campaign Wednesday quickly moved to exploit a court decision outlawing California's gas chamber by linking the judge who made the ruling to Democratic challenger Kathleen Brown's brother, former Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr.

George Gorton, Wilson's campaign manager, branded U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, who issued the gas chamber ruling, "a dangerously lenient judge" and noted that former Gov. Brown named her to the Alameda County Municipal Court before her 1980 elevation to the federal bench by President Jimmy Carter.

Steve Glazer, a senior campaign adviser to state Treasurer Brown, denounced the Wilson campaign effort, saying the Democratic candidate "has nothing to do with Judge Patel so it's another example of Pete Wilson's effort to smear Kathleen Brown with the actions of others and not hold her accountable" for her own platform.

But with less than five weeks before the election, the ruling issued in San Francisco couldn't have come at a more inopportune time for Brown. Wilson has repeatedly criticized Brown for her personal opposition to the death penalty.

At an emotional news conference in June, Brown, whose father Edmund G. (Pat) Brown also served as governor, said her opposition to capital punishment was rooted in her upbringing and her Catholic faith. Despite her heartfelt views, Brown said she would nonetheless enforce capital punishment.

But Brown seems unable to shake the issue. On Tuesday, Patel gave Wilson an opening to raise it again when she declared that the gas chamber "is inhumane and has no place in civilized society" and deemed it unconstitutional. If her decision is upheld, it would require the state to execute prisoners only by lethal injection, an option provided by a 1992 state law.

"If Kathleen Brown had been governor in 1992 and vetoed that bill (lethal injection), the judge her brother appointed would have outlawed California's death penalty yesterday," Gorton maintained. "As long as a Brown appointee remains on the bench, California's death penalty is not safe."

Glazer initially would not spell out Brown's position on the lethal injection law, saying only that Brown said "she will enforce the law on the death penalty. She will enforce the people's will on the method of execution."

Later, he said that if Brown had been governor in 1992, she would have signed the measure into law to provide Death Row inmates another option on how to die.

Glazer also said that Brown, like incumbent Wilson, would support a decision to appeal Patel's ruling.

Wilson, speaking Wednesday to a television reporter before boarding a flight in Los Angeles, pointed out that Patel, the first woman appointed to the federal bench in San Francisco, awarded condemned murderer Robert Alton Harris an extraordinary reprieve in 1992 before he was finally put to death.

"We've got to have the death penalty to protect people in California, and I intend to do everything possible to see to it that we've retained that protection," Wilson said.

Besides criticizing Brown over the Patel ruling, Wilson's campaign showed reporters a new 30-second campaign commercial stressing the governor's support of tougher penalties for criminals.

Political Scorecard

33 days to go before Californians go to the polls.

THE GOVERNOR'S RACE

* What Happened Wednesday: Gov. Pete Wilson traveled to Washington for fund-raising events. His campaign, meanwhile, sought to exploit a court decision outlawing California's gas chamber by linking the judge who made the ruling to state Treasurer Kathleen Brown's brother. Brown returned from New York City and attended a Democratic Unity fund-raising dinner in San Francisco.

* What's Ahead: Today, Wilson travels to New York City for more fund raising. Brown has breakfast with voters in San Francisco and will attend a midday rally in Santa Monica.

THE SENATE RACE

* What Happened Wednesday: Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Mike Huffington remained in Washington, where Congress is in session.

* What's Ahead: The candidates debate for the first time tonight, from 6 to 7 on CNN's "Larry King Live." The debate will also be broadcast live on KNX radio, 1070 AM.

NOTABLE QUOTES

"If Kathleen Brown had been governor in 1992 and vetoed that bill (lethal injection), the judge her brother appointed would have outlawed California's death penalty yesterday. As long as a Brown appointee remains on the bench, California's death penalty is not safe."

--George Gorton, Wilson's campaign manager, referring to U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel's ruling to outlaw the state's gas chamber. Patel was appointed by former Gov. Jerry Brown to a Municipal Court before being elevated to the federal bench.

"Brown) has nothing to do with Judge Patel so it's another example of Pete Wilson's effort to smear Kathleen Brown with the actions of others. . . . She will enforce the law on the death penalty. She will enforce the people's will on the method of execution."

--Steve Glazer, a senior campaign adviser to state Treasurer Kathleen Brown

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|