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Legal Experts Call On Jackie Lacey To End Death Penalty Sentences In LA County

Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey (Photo by Rick Bowmer/AP)
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In an open letter released Wednesday, 75 legal experts implored Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey to stop seeking the death penalty for those on trial in L.A. County.

Released on the heels of a report last month which found that only people of color had been sentenced to death within the county over the past seven years, the letter notes that, "The American death penalty is broken in every way... It is time for us to stop pretending that the death penalty can or should work."

Among the evidence of a broken system, the authors write, is the "deplorable lawyering" provided by attorneys assigned to death penalty cases.

"L.A. is one of the largest drivers of death sentences nationwide... Abysmal defense lawyering, geographic disparities, and racial bias are the legacy of [LA County's] unfair and discriminatory use of the death penalty," Cassandra Stubbs, director of the Capital Punishment Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, told Mother Jones in June.

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But the D.A. says that it won't change its way of doing business.

"The law has not changed and, until it does, Los Angeles County prosecutors will continue to fairly evaluate all special circumstance cases and seek death against the worst of the worst offenders, including child murderers and serial killers," said Shiara Davila-Morales, a representative of Lacey's office, in a statement provided to LAist.

The open letter is signed by legal scholars and experts, including professors from Stanford Law School, Yale University, Columbia Law School and the University of Southern California.