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The Death Penalty: Controversy in the Law Office

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[EDITOR'S NOTE: This story is a fictional account intended to illustrate the author's feelings about the controversial subject of capital punishment. While the case described therein is based in fact, the names and location have been changed. The author is not an attorney.]

It was around 10am when I arrived at the Fort Bend County Courthouse. I was late because my hot coffee spilled on my new white blouse. I tried to continue my morning routine of grabbing the mail, saying hello to my co-workers, and checking my emails.

As I approached Danny, a highly intelligent defense attorney, he smiled and said his usual, “How’s it going, beautiful?”

I replied with the usual, “Same old, same old, Danny.” He was always hinting that he wanted to date me, but we both knew it would never happen.

I continued to walk to my desk when I overheard two other co-workers arguing about some intense case. “You know he won’t be charged with the death penalty, John,” I heard Adam say.

“Probably not, but at least he’ll be locked up,” John replied.

I knew the exact case they were talking about. It was the case that everyone was talking about.

On May 12, 2008, Jose Gutierrez, age 29, was arrested for the murder of his wife Claire, 23, and their son Michael, 11 months old. Jose allegedly killed both his wife and son, and then stuffed them inside plastic containers in their home. After being advised of his constitutional rights, Jose admitted that he had murdered his wife and child and then stuffed them into a plastic storage container seven days earlier. The court case has just come up, and has brought controversy to the law office.

I myself, being a strong supporter of the death penalty, find it frustrating when murderers are stuck in jail for the rest of their life. Lethal injection is complex and expensive and I catch myself reminiscing about the old days where criminals were hung within days of their trial.

“Why should a murderer have a better life in jail than some innocent family struggling to make ends meet out in the real world?” I overheard Danny argue. “Sometimes I’m amazed why the country is the way it is.”

By this time, there were three prosecuting attorneys against five defense attorneys, and I knew it was not going to end in Danny’s favor.

“Chill out, Danny,” John replied, “You can’t win them all. And besides, Jose will be locked up forever.”

Amazed, the majority of my office smiled and agreed with him. As the dispute came to an end, and all of the lawyers got back to work, I noticed how upset Danny still was.

“How’s it going, Danny?” I asked, trying to get him to think about something different.

“Terrible,” Danny replied. “How can this country be okay with murderers and rapists sitting in jail continuing to live their life when they’ve harmed so many other lives?”

I thought to myself that it’s not fair, and Danny’s right, but that wouldn’t solve anything. So I told him, “All you can do is try your best, Danny. You send some to lethal injection, and get the rest off the streets so they can’t harm anymore people.” I was hoping it would help, but all I could see was Danny cramming his pencil even deeper into his stack of case papers.

“How is a murderer getting to choose his last meal fair?” Danny asked. “The people he murdered didn’t get to choose their last meal. They didn’t even get to choose how they died!” Anger filled his face.

There wasn’t much I could say; I agreed 100% with him.

“Danny, life isn’t fair, you should know that by now,” John whispered as we walked by.

“Life isn’t fair, and since we’re lawyers, we should know that by now,” I muttered.

Danny’s hand released the beat up pencil and he put both hands to his head. “It’s just so frustrating to know that this man will be alive until his body gives out,” he muttered.

“I know, Danny,” I told him, “but that’s just how life goes, all we can do is look forward to the next day and the next criminal to put behind bars.”

About TexasSoonerFan

  • zingzing

    ah, akismet. you can’t even write about ethereal background music (amb-eye-ent) without it fucking with you. but i was able to write “wetback” without it fucking with me… dunno why you weren’t.

    as for your secondly, i wouldn’t go around calling anyone “wetback,” and neither would cindy. you suggested that she would… which was kinda mean. and you knew she wasn’t talking about illegal aliens, so i don’t even know why you’d try and act like you thought she did.

    and secondly to your secondly, you’d probably have some explaining to do if you went up to a stranger and started calling them “wetback,” because you look like “whitey.” so don’t get too cavalier with that.

  • Jet Gardner

    You people nede to leran my altenerate cdoe taht I demnosrtated on antoher stnrig.

    atfer yuo gte usde to it you can raed it qutie esaeliy becuase the hamun brian acutally olny raeds the fisrt and lsat letetrs of a wrod and sacnns the rset.

  • Jet Gardner

    As lnog as all of teh lteters are tehre asmiket can go srcew istlef beacuse we humnas are smrater tahn cempuetrs…


  • Glenn Contrarian

    To all -

    Dave said, …we’re willing to let a writer stick their neck out with an unpopular opinion presented in a creative way. Clearly the subject matter is of interest and it has generated discussion, so from my point of view it’s doing something good for the site.

    That’s a true statement – otherwise he’d have gotten rid of me a long time ago. But the conservatives need to realize that just as they have the right – indeed the duty! – to point out when they think we’re wrong, we also have that same right, that same duty to point out when we think they are wrong.

  • Jet Gardner

    As long as it’s not on AM talk radio Glenn

  • Clavos

    you’d probably have some explaining to do if you went up to a stranger and started calling them “wetback,” because you look like “whitey.”

    Probably not, because I’d be speaking Mexican Spanish and would use the term mojado/a.

  • Dr Dreadful

    And I wasn’t kidding about learning Spanish. Already, here in Miami, Spanish has supplanted English as the dominant language. You don’t have to be able to speak it here yet, but increasingly, there are more and more places that don’t have English-speaking personnel, in fact entire sizable areas of the town are Spanish only already.

    It’s not just urban Florida either. Here in central California there are numerous small towns out in the boonies where Spanish is the first or only language spoken.

    Don’t think this is a new thing either. Latinos were here long before the English-speaking whites, and didn’t stop speaking Spanish just because the USA annexed the place.

  • John baylor

    That was dumb and poorly written.

  • zingzing

    clavos: “Probably not, because I’d be speaking Mexican Spanish and would use the term mojado/a.”

    i dunno. i can insult people in a few different languages, but that doesn’t make it any less insulting. shrug. i’d still suggest you refrain from it.

  • Clavos

    i’d still suggest you refrain from it.

    Thanks, but you’re a few years late with that advice.

    haven’t had a problem yet.

    I am, after all, a Mexican.

    And lots of us are Europeans, though the majority are indigenous.

  • Jet Gardner

    Así que si yo quería publicar un comentario tendría que ir a algunos on-line y luego copiar y pegar?

  • zingzing

    you mean to say that you really go up to strangers and call them “wetback,” or “mojado” or whatever? i suppose i have, on occasion, said “what’s up honky?” to a FRIEND, but i wouldn’t think it proper, or polite, or whatever, to slide up next to the nearest white person and use the term. i would only use such a term to a stranger if i wanted them to know i look down on them. my friends, however, know i look down on them, so it’s no surprise.

    as a sign of familiarity, whatever, epithet away. but… to a stranger? that’s kind of fucked up in one way or another.

    one day, you’re going to pick the wrong person, and they’ll let you know just how displeased they are…

  • Jet Gardner

    Re 61: so I know what went into the translator but what came out… since I don’t speak Spanish?

  • Clavos

    one day, you’re going to pick the wrong person, and they’ll let you know just how displeased they are…

    OK zing…

  • Clavos


    It says:

    “So if I wanted (word supplied is wrong tense in Spanish) to publish a comment I would have to go to some online and then copy and paste.”

    That’s the literal translation back of whatever you put into the bot.

    As you can see, the online translation bots (at least the free ones), leave a lot to be desired.

  • zingzing

    clavos: “OK zing…”

    ok, clavos.

    (really, i doubt you’d be crass enough in real life to do something like that.)

  • El Bicho

    peddle that garbage to someone who will fall for it. we both know that the piece shouldn’t have been published as submitted, but it’s not surprising to find you supporting fabrication to make a point.

  • Tdawg

    How can all of you bleeding heart liberals get so bent out of shape over a college girls story. You should get more bent out of shape over the fact that you are too ignorant to stop reading something that offends you. Maybe your socialist government should pass legislation against this type of dangerous self expression so your bleeding hearts don’t get so upset.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Looks like ‘Tdawg’ needs to learn to stop reading something that offends him, too….

  • Jet Gardner

    My fairmindedness has been tested many times, the fact that I actually read past the tired and ridiculous phrase “bleeding heart liberals” is testament to it…

    I wonder how long that will last?

  • Jet Gardner

    EVERYONE NEEDS TO PAUSE BRIEFLY AND PRAY FOR THE SOLDIERS AT FT. HOOD. I’m not a religious man, but I plan to now…….

  • Arch Conservative

    Liberals won’t think twice about killing an innocent baby but in the same breath will tell us we can’t off scum like Abu-Jamal Mumia.

    There’s a push for the death penalty up here in NH after a horrific murder that just happened. The more NH becomes like Texas and the less we become like MA, the better.

  • Jet Gardner

    Zing, I can think of no better way to honor our soldiers than to pity and ignore him.

  • zingzing

    apparently, the comment editors are doing your bidding for me. that’s cool. totally expected it. archie suckles from the teets of his ideology as much as i do. at least mine tastes nice. his tastes acrid. and stupid.

  • Arch Conservative

    Yes ignore me..that’s fine.

    But you’d have to have an extra big gulp of the Obama koolaid not to see how insulting to the military his little shoutout was.

    Jet’s logic……..”I don’t like Arch Conservative so therefore because he doesn’t like Barack Obama, anything Obama does is just fine in my book”

    Hate to tell you but there are millions of people out there that saw how disgraceful it was.

  • zingzing

    that makes absolutely no sense. what the fuck are you talking about? whose shoutout?

    “I don’t like Arch Conservative so therefore because he doesn’t like Barack Obama, anything Obama does is just fine in my book”

    you think you’re very important, eh? archie trumps the president? maybe your mother would like to think that, but, really… have you lost it?

  • Jet Gardner

    The enemy of your enemy if your friend… that’s cute.

  • zingzing

    ah. now archie does know that obama was giving the closing remarks at a conference when the ft. hood thing came up, right? that he was actually there to speak about something and this wasn’t just about ft. hood… i’m sure he knows that, but he can’t wrap his mind around WHY obama would do what he was there to do before talking about ft. hood. if obama had waited and held a separate press conference solely about ft. hood, he’d be saying that he shouldn’t have waited, as he had a press conference right there. but nooooo.

    it’s pretty easy to see why that went down the way it did. all you have to do is use a little logic. but archie and his ilk just love playing dumb for the rest of us. no wonder all we can do sometimes is stare in disbelief.

  • Jet Gardner

    If the President had coughed, thousands would’ve screamed that it was an insult to the troops.

    How soon we forget how Bush sat and read “My pet goat” and dawdled for 9 minutes before doing anything during a crisis.

    Bush in his paranoia would’ve seen it as a plot by evildoers to attack Texas and sent in the marines to restore order,
    changed the terror threat to army green after misinterpreting the color code, but only after he’d put Chenney in charge and gone into hiding in case one of his secret service men was a terrorist too. Can you see Bush jumping out of his skin every time he saw a U.S. Army soldier with a gun?

  • Silas Kain

    OK, enough is enough. How wingnuts can turn this massacre at Fort Hood into another slam at Obama is beyond belief. First of all, the cable news outlets did America a great disservice with all the misinformation thrown at us during the course of the day. This is the result of sensationalist “news”. And we, the consumer, need to take a serious look at our own viewing habits and the aftermath.

    What happened yesterday was tragic. What’s horrific is that this disturbed soldier will become the poster child for anti-Muslim sentiments getting even harsher. I’m surprised that wingnuts like those at FOX haven’t figured out yet that Major Hasan’s first name is Nidal which is Ladin spelled backwards. That must mean that he’s a terrorist, huh? We don’t know what precipitated this man’s rampage and it really serves no one to speculate until all the facts are disseminated. Once the dust has settled we need to take a cold, hard look at our military leaders. If it is true that Hasan was in the cross-hairs months ago, we need to see where the system broke down. And the way I see it the responsibility falls square on the shoulders of the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security. If we can’t even identify problems within our own military, how can we trust the military to care for its own? If we can’t rely on the military to provide ACCURATE information to the public in real time, then the military needs to stop feeding us information until it’s been completely verified.

    Ronald Reagan’s mantra in office was trust but verify. I think it’s time for this Federal government to implement procedures across all departments where everything is verified. Then, and only then, can some modicum of trust be returned to government. Two weeks ago we were captivated by the balloon boy. Yesterday we were captivated by Fort Hood. In both cases we have lessons to be learned.

  • El Bicho

    People complaining about Arch ought to read “The Old Woman and the Snake”

  • Jet Gardner

    Hard to belief the havoc I can cause by asking for a moment of silence for the dead and wounded soldiers… I’m not even religious any more!

  • Silas Kain

    No havoc from this end, Jet. My heart goes out to those soldiers and their families. The havoc caused yesterday should compel this Commander in Chief to demand full accountability from military brass. To just place blame completely at the feet of Hasan and avoid the dynamics which precipitated his alleged behavior is unacceptable.

  • Silas Kain

    No havoc from this end, Jet. My heart goes out to those soldiers and their families. The havoc caused yesterday should compel this Commander in Chief to demand full accountability from military brass. To just place blame completely at the feet of Hasan and avoid the dynamics which precipitated his alleged behavior is unacceptable.

  • Jet Gardner

    USA Today: Reports suggested that soldiers may have heard him shout something like “Allahu Akbar” — Arabic for “God is great!” — just before he fired two automatic handguns. He was shown on a security video tape from a local convenience store wearing religious garb just hours before the shooting. And family members said that he had complained about being harassed expressly because he was a Muslim, and that he had expressed deep concerns about deploying.

    Acquaintances said Major Hasan was upset about his future deployment in a war zone, and heatedly opposed United States foreign policy in discussions with fellow soldiers. Earlier this year law-enforcement officers monitoring Islamic Web sites identified Major Hasan as a blogger who posted comments on suicide bombings in which he equated such acts to those by soldiers who use their own bodies to shield fellow soldiers from exploding shrapnel

  • Silas Kain

    Jet, with all due respect, the information coming out of news organizations can’t be trusted. The virtual see-saw of information yesterday makes my point. I think it would be wise for everyone to just simmer down and let the facts be gathered before we try and make sense of all this. And, again, the bottom line must be that military brass accounts for their lack of action and passion for misinformation.

  • Lee

    I believe that the death penalty should be abolished, too, because even though the killers purposely killed their victims, I think they should be free to live and think about what they did. They get to know that they have all the innocent blood on their hands, and everyone knows that murderers will go to HELL if they don’t repent to GOD first. HELL is an eternity worse than anything the courts decide to do with them. Almost half of the people who go to prison for murder, say the SINNER’S PRAYER and get back into the GRACE of GOD. Sometimes it takes years for a killer to realize s/he is wrong and they should have that choice, too. I’m not trying to say they weren’t wrong to kill in the first place, because they know they were. Unless they have a legitimate mental illness and didn’t know what they were doing. Then the courts could send them to a psych ward for life. In the end it wouldn’t make a bit of difference whether the killer was dead or locked up for life, the families would still get justice for the innocents.

  • emma

    Hi there,
    I am currently doing a research project on whether or not the death penalty is an effective form of punishment. If you have any helpful information or opinions on this topic I would greatly appreciate your input. please email me at