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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Tuesday, October 27, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Death penalty ruling anguishes Spokane Valley mother who lost daughter in 1996 attacks

Sherry Shaver felt some solace on the day in 1997 when a jury recommended capital punishment for the man who killed her daughter in Spokane Valley. But the ensuing 20 years brought more grief and frustration, as Shaver watched the killer, Dwayne Woods, exhaust his legal appeals and repeatedly stave off his execution. Woods’ sentencing, it turns out, played a role in the state Supreme Court’s decision to outlaw the death penalty. As a black man, he had become part of a troubling statistic in Washington’s criminal justice system.

Vestal: If supermajority votes govern, a minority rules

“If a pertinacious minority can controul the opinion of a majority respecting the best mode of conducting it; the majority in order that something may be done, must conform to the views of the minority; and thus the sense of the smaller number will over-rule that of the greater.” Thus wrote Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist Papers, and thus cited the majority of Washington’s Supreme Court in striking down the supermajority requirement for tax increases.