Re "Defense lawyer leads death penalty to abyss" (Dan Morain, July 27): The California death penalty has collapsed under its own weight due to a total lack of discipline in its invocation. For almost four decades, 52 county prosecutors have each applied their own changing standard. Decisions have been driven by personal ambition, philosophy and local politics, never by affordability. The legislature has shown its true feelings by refusing to fund such a flawed, dysfunctional system.
The model for a working death penalty system found in federal law has been purposely ignored. The U.S. attorney general must personally authorize seeking death. Both sides of a case are allowed to first provide information and offer argument. This system has worked fairly and efficiently under attorney generals of both parties. California does not have the integrity or the will to adopt such an approach. Thus, there is little alternative to throwing the whole thing out.
-- Laurance S. Smith, Sacramento