Elisabeth Semel

Elisabeth Semel Says Death Penalty Work Goes on Despite Funder’s Madoff Link

San Francisco Chronicle, Dec. 17, 2008 by Andrew S. Ross

Elisabeth Semel, director of the Death Penalty Clinic … would not comment on the disposition of $796,000 worth of current grants dispensed by the JEHT (short for Justice, Equality, Human dignity and Tolerance) Foundation, except to say, without elaboration: “We will be able to continue our work in the lethal injection area, in which we were funded at the present time.”

Elisabeth Semel Believes Capital Punishment Is a Human Rights Issue

The Forum at Grace Cathedral, Nov. 2, 2008, Hosted by Alan Jones

“There are any numbers of treaties which most nations have entered into—and the United States has entered into a number of them—treaties that have the goal of reducing racism, treaties that have the goal of upholding the dignity of human life, treaties that prohibit excessive punishment. And each of those treaties has led the majority of countries in the world to come to the conclusion, also over the course of time, that capital punishment … is not tolerable.”

Elisabeth Semel Encourages Consistency in California’s Death Penalty

The Press-Enterprise, September 6, by Jessica Logan
Elisabeth Semel said the U.S. Supreme

Court ruled the death penalty should be reserved for the worst of the worst murders. She said prosecutors can pursue death on almost all first-degree murder cases in California because the laws are so broad. Semel said it is unfair for a person to face the death penalty for a crime in one county and life in prison a mile away in another county. She believes these rules should be uniform across the state.

Elisabeth Semel Affirms Importance of Lenix Decision on Jury Selection

Los Angeles Daily Journal, August 5, by Elisabeth Semel
www.dailyjournal.com [registration required]

From the perspective of citizens who continue to be excluded from jury service based on their race, it is well past midnight. Like Wheeler, the Lenix decision is another one of those “affirmative steps to ensure that race plays no part in jury selection.” The question remains whether California courts are watching the clock.

Elisabeth Semel Applauds Court Ruling on Jury Selection

San Francisco Daily Journal, July 25, by Laura Ernde
www.dailyjournal.com [registration required]

The California Supreme Court Thursday removed any doubt about the use of a technique known as comparative juror analysis to make sure prosecutors aren’t improperly excluding blacks or other minorities from juries…. “It’s an acknowledgement by this court, which has been resistant, that it’s required to conduct comparative juror analysis,” said Elisabeth Semel…. “That’s the big message.”

Elisabeth Semel Says Death Penalty is Not Guaranteed in Murder Cases

The Daily News of Los Angeles, July 20, by Tony Castro
www.dailynews.com [registration required]

Elisabeth Semel said there is never an easy answer in pursuing death penalty cases…. “The fact that it is a death penalty case shows that the murder or murders were horrendous enough to warrant its consideration—but that does not mean that the death penalty is automatic,” said Semel. “A jury takes many things into consideration in its deliberations, and there is no question that there is often an uphill battle for the prosecution and that the death penalty is not a foregone conclusion.”

Elisabeth Semel Lauds Report Critical of State’s Death Penalty System

-San Francisco Daily Journal, July 1, by Dhyana Levey
www.dailyjournal.com [registration required]

“It comes down to dollars and cents,” said Elisabeth Semel. “California has to decide how it wants its money spent.” Semel said the report was correct in calling the system “dysfunctional” and called the system a “drain on scarce resources.”

-KTVU News, July 1, by David Stevenson

“It is going to require a sober and realistic assessment by the people of the state of California—that is to really look at the death penalty system not through the lens of emotionality and passion.”