Louisiana high court justice recuses from death penalty case after radio remarks


Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Scott Crichton/lasc.org

Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Scott Crichton recused himself in a death penalty case after the condemned inmate’s lawyers argued the judge’s remarks in a radio interview suggest bias in capital cases.

Crichton issued a “notice of self-recusal” on Nov. 21 without giving a reason for stepping aside in the appeal of inmate David Brown, report the New Orleans Advocate and the Associated Press. The Washington Post reports on Crichton’s remarks in an opinion column.

Brown was sentenced to death for the murder of a prison guard during a 1999 escape attempt at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. He was among a group of inmates charged in the “Angola 5” case.

In their legal filing, Brown’s lawyers said Crichton mentioned the Angola 5 during the Oct. 23 radio interview.

The interviewer asked Crichton whether he believed the death penalty was a deterrent. Crichton answered: “I do … I think it’s a deterrent … I just heard on the news this morning about a case in Texas involving an inmate who was convicted serving a life sentence who beat a guard to death. Somehow got out of his handcuffs and literally beat him to death … With a pipe. Initially with his fists. And then with a pipe. And then we had recently the Angola 5 in South Louisiana.”

The interviewer commented, “If you’re in for life you have nothing to lose,” and Crichton responded, “Correct.”

Crichton also said inmates should be allowed to choose one of three execution methods; a three-drug cocktail, a single-drug injection with nitrogen hypoxia or a firing squad.

Crichton is the justice who recently wrote a concurring opinion asserting that an inmate’s request for a lawyer was ambiguous when he said, “If y’all, this is how I feel, if y’all think I did it, I know that I didn’t do it so why don’t you just give me a lawyer dog cause this is not what’s up.”

Hat tip to the Marshall Project.

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