July 26, 1995 in Nation/World

Mcveigh Lawyer Seeks To Bar Reno From Execution Decision

Compiled From Wire Services

Attorney General Janet Reno should be barred from deciding whether Timothy McVeigh will face execution because her remarks about the federal building bombing have made a charade of justice, McVeigh’s lawyer said Tuesday.

Shortly after the April 19 bombing that killed 168 people, Reno and President Clinton said that those responsible would face the death penalty.

Defense lawyer Richard Burr said the two violated McVeigh’s constitutional right to due process by announcing “the premature decision.”

“The violation of that right cannot be remedied by a process that pretends the decision has not already been made and announced to the world,” he wrote in a motion to bar Reno from the decision process.

Under Justice Department rules, U.S. Attorney Patrick Ryan will make the initial recommendation on whether to seek the death penalty. The recommendation is reviewed by a committee that reports to Reno. She has the final say.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Mullins wouldn’t comment on Burr’s motion. He said Tuesday that Ryan has not decided whether to pursue the death penalty.

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