Haugen v. Kitzhaber

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: 06-20-2013
  • Case #: S060761
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Balmer, C.J. for the Court; En Banc

A reprieve is effective regardless of whether the reprieve is accepted or rejected by the grantee.

Governor Kitzhaber appealed the circuit court's decision, which found Defendant's reprieve ineffective. The Court of Appeals certified to the Oregon Supreme Court for review. Under Article V, section 14 of the Oregon Constitution, the Governor has the power to issue reprieves. The Governor issued a reprieve to Defendant after he was convicted of aggravated murder and sentenced to death. Defendant rejected the Governor's reprieve and sought a judgment declaring the reprieve invalid because it was not accepted and did not specify an end date. The circuit court held that a reprieve may be effective without a specified end date; however, the reprieve was ineffective without Defendant's acceptance. The Governor appealed. After reviewing the text of the Oregon Constitutional provision, historical circumstances surrounding the provision, and case law, the Court held that the Governor's grant of a reprieve is effective, regardless of Defendant's acceptance of it. Alternatively, Defendant argued that a reprieve, without a specified end date, although effective, was in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution as cruel and unusual punishment. The Court found that a reprieve granted for the Governor's term was specific enough and that a reprieve is not punishment at all and therefore, cannot be in violation of the Eight Amendment. Reversed and remanded.

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