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U.S. District Judge Micheal A. Ponsor sat on the bench in 2000 to hear the first capital case in Massachusetts history after a lapse of more than 50 years. In his newly published novel, The Hanging Judge, he offers up a view from a judge’s perspective of a federal death penalty trial. “A compelling tale, with a cast of vividly drawn characters and a plot that twists and turns,” his work has been described as both entertaining and informative.* A perfect summer read.
Summer reading aside, the subject of the use of the death penalty in our country deserves serious consideration. Since 2007, the United Nations General Assembly has adopted four resolutions calling on its member States to establish a moratorium on the use capital punishment with a view to its abolition. On June 28, 2013, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called the minority of UN member States where the procedure is still practiced to increase transparency and allow a serious debate on the subject.
“Massachusetts Law About the Death Penalty” can provide links to information to engage you in this debate. The use of the death penalty in Massachusetts state cases was declared unconstitutional in 1984 in Commonwealth v. Colon-Cruz. Capital punishment is still an option in federal cases heard in Massachusetts.

 

*Jonathan Harr, author of A Civil Action.

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