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Fired U.S. attorneys fought death penalty

March 26, 2007 at 12:31 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, March 26 (UPI) -- Three of eight U.S. attorneys fired by the Justice Department last year challenged the government on prosecuting capital cases, the Los Angeles Times reports.

As Congress investigates whether there was political motivation in the firings, the Times found cases in which the three attorneys balked at Washington requests to initiate death sentence trials.

The three former prosecutors are Margaret Chiara of Grand Rapids, Mich., Kevin Ryan of San Francisco and Paul Charlton of Phoenix.

In one of Chiara's Michigan cases, the state law against execution was overruled when the Justice Department made it a federal case based on the fact a firearm was used in a drug-related offense.

In Phoenix, Charlton repeatedly balked at filing capital murder charges in a case where the victim's body has not been recovered, the Times said.

Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, said there have been 95 federal death penalty trials in the Bush administration, compared with 55 during eight years under the Clinton administration.

© 2007 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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