Throughout the course of the 2013 legislative session, Coloradans knew that at long last, Governor John Hickenlooper was slated to actually make a decision for once in his governorship. The quirky, goofy, aloof Governor of Denver has made a name for himself by contorting his positions on issues so as to be all things to all people.
That decision arrived at John Hickenlooper’s desk this week in the form of a request from Chuck E Cheese murderer Nathan Dunlap, who was slated to be executed in August. With all of his appeals exhausted, Dunlap’s hopes hinged on a governor with a record of supporting the death penalty and threatening his fellow Democrats this year with a veto if they pursued a repeal of Colorado’s ultimate punishment. In short, it didn’t look good for Dunlap.
Which brings us to Governor Hickenlooper’s bumbling, yammering twenty minute long press conference at the State Capitol yesterday. In announcing a baffling executive order granting Dunlap “temporary reprieve,” Hickenlooper effectively flipped his position on the death penalty.
While suggesting that his order was designed to be respectful of the families of victims, jurors in the case and even prosecutors and the judge, we can’t possibly see how any of the aforementioned would view this move as being anything other than a direct slap in the face. Hickenlooper caved in and a murderous coward gets to avoid the sentence handed down by a jury of his peers. Justice? Hardly.
At a press conference hastily organized at the Capitol in reaction to Hickenlooper’s announcement, 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler rightfully called out Hickenlooper’s striking inability to make tough decisions. Understandably outraged, Brauchler went straight at the Governor’s cowardly decision and gave a voice to the families of Dunlap’s victims who are beside themselves with grief and anger after learning of Hickenlooper’s decision.
While the Governor and his team of cracker-jack advisors might think they figured out a perfect way to keep a foot in both camps of this polarizing issue, we suspect Colorado voters won’t take kindly to this Governor’s brand of “leadership” in 2014.
Taking both sides of contentious debates over fracking or union issues is one thing; granting effective clemency to a murderous thug is quite another.
In issuing the reprieve order on Wednesday, Governor Hickenlooper placed himself squarely on the wrong side of justice, the rule of law and the vast majority of voters in Colorado on this issue. And that’s something the people of this state won’t soon forget.