Friday, September 26, 2003


the rest of the story...

No death penalty, Travaglini promises
By Raphael Lewis, Globe Staff, 9/26/2003

State Senate President Robert E. Travaglini yesterday vowed to defeat any new effort by Governor Mitt Romney to reestablish the death penalty, predicting the measure's swift failure in the Legislature.

"I do not believe you're ever going to see a death penalty in Massachusetts," Travaglini, a Democrat with a decadelong record of opposition to capital punishment, said in an interview with the Globe. "I am not going to allow this issue to take away the focus of this party from issues that I perceive to be of greater significance."

Still, Romney's creation this week of a council of scientists and lawyers to find an "airtight" way to guarantee the guilt of capital defendants has intrigued House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran, who has stood against the death penalty for 15 years.

Finneran, speaking to reporters yesterday, said he is not morally opposed to the death penalty and thus could envision supporting such punishment if there were a foolproof, science-based way of proving guilt.

"I know some people are encouraged by DNA, for example, and what it has allowed us to do in terms of releasing people who have been improperly convicted," Finneran told reporters. "The reverse might be true of that."

But Finneran maintained that because human error could not be ruled out, it would be impossible to create a flawless system for determining the guilt of death penalty defendants. As a result, he said, he doubts Romney's efforts will lead anywhere in the House or Senate.

"I'm not sure there is such a thing as an airtight system with regard to human beings," Finneran said.