New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver will hold hearings on the future of the death penalty before any new law is passed, the Albany Times Union reports. The administration of Gov. George Pataki called the move “obstructionist.” Silver’s decision to hold public hearings in December and January puts on hold an attempt by Pataki and the Senate’s GOP majority to get the death penalty law back in operation quickly.
Lynn Rasic, a Pataki spokeswoman, said, “Speaker Silver claims to favor the death penalty but he’s giving New Yorkers the runaround by refusing to allow a vote on this important legislation.” In June, the state Court of Appeals declared unconstitutional the current law, which was crafted by Pataki and the legislature in 1995. The problem stemmed from the law’s sentencing provision, which gives jurors the choice of death, or life without parole. If they fail to agree, jurors are told, the judge will give the criminal a sentence that includes parole.