Las Vegas’s Clark County has more pending death penalty cases per capita than any other urban county in the U.S., according to Paola Armeni of Nevada Attorneys for Criminal Justice. Using her numbers, which District Attorney David Roger is not disputing, Clark County has 80 defendants facing pending trials in which prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, writes Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Jane Ann Morrison.
Maricopa County, Az., is No. 1 with about 130 pending death penalty cases, but that county has twice the population of Clark County. Armeni believes that District Attorney Roger seeks the death penalty often as a negotiating tool. Public Defender Phil Kohn attributes the high number to Roger’s refusal to negotiate with defense attorneys for life without parole in exchange for dropping the death penalty. Roger countered it’s because the crimes warrant the death penalty under Nevada law, which spells out the aggravating circumstances where death is appropriate. What isn’t disputed? Death penalty cases are more expensive because there are different standards when a life is at risk. The defendant gets two attorneys, and more research and investigation is required.