On March 26, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony from 32 people on HB 455. A majority of those present, 28 in all, testified in favor of repeal.
Among those testifying for the bill were: Arthur Brennan, former NH Superior Court Justice; Greg Smith, former NH Attorney General; Richard O’Leary, former Deputy Chief of Manchester Police Dept.; Robert Hirschfeld, Bishop of the NH Episcopal Diocese; Meredith Cook, Vice Chancellor of the Catholic Diocese; and Kirk Bloodsworth, the first person exonerated from death row using DNA evidence. They were joined by numerous murder victim family members, other clergy members, and social and civic leaders.
Former NH Attorney General Greg Smith claimed the death penalty does not protect society better than life in prison, and that criminals are arbitrarily picked out for execution by people in the criminal justice system who are, however well intentioned, subject to implicit bias. Watch video here.
Former Superior Court Judge John M. Lewis questioned the reasoning that the death penalty is reserved for only the most heinous murders, and spoke to his concern for human error and to the evolving standards of law and decency in our society. Watch video here.
The list below represents a small selection of the 25 videos from the Judiciary hearing available in this Youtube playlist:
- Corrections Superintendent Richard Van Wickler
- Former Suprior Court Judge Arthur Brennan
- Hannah Cox of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty
- Kirk Bloodsworth, first to be exonerated from death row by DNA
- Barbara Keshen
Former NH Attorney General Kelly Ayotte reprised her earlier House hearing appearance, giving a full-throated argument against repeal, repeating her concern that NH’s sole death row prisoner would be executed. She was joined in her opposition by Laura Briggs, wife of slain Manchester police officer Michael Briggs, along with a couple of representatives of police associations.
Our gratitude goes out to all those who came to testify, and to those holding signs and attending to witness and add their gravitas to the event.
HB 455 is expected to come to the Senate floor for a vote sometime in April, where it is expected to pass. Gov. Sununu has continued to indicate his opposition to the bill, saying he will veto it as he did with last year’s repeal bill, SB 593. If that happens, an override effort will likely take place sometime this spring.
In the meantime, please continue to write to newspapers and also to your Senator if you have not yet done so. Thank you.