PENNSYLVANIA (USA): SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS GOVERNOR'S MORATORIUM ON EXECUTIONS
December 21, 2015: In a unanimous decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld Gov. Tom Wolf's imposition of a moratorium on executions while he awaits the results of a legislative commission's report on Pennsylvania's death penalty.
On February 13, 2015, Wolf issued a temporary reprieve to Terrance Williams and announced that he would put all executions on hold. At that time, he said that Pennsylvania's "capital punishment system has significant and widely recognized defects" and was "ineffective, unjust, and expensive." Prosecutors challenged the governor's authority to issue reprieves of indefinite duration that were based upon systemic concerns. The Court disagreed. Writing for the Court, Justice Max Baer said, "at the time the reprieve power was adopted in the 1790 Constitution, the Governor's authority to issue a reprieve was not understood as being limited to granting reprieves with a specific end date or for a purpose relating only to the prisoner's unique circumstances, but rather encompassed any temporary postponement of sentence."
The case is Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Terrance Williams. (Source: The Reading Eagle, 21/12/2015)