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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Will Hear Challenge Against Death Penalty Moratorium

Update: The court agreed to hear a case brought by Philadelphia's district attorney challenging Gov. Tom Wolf's moratorium on the death penalty last month.

Originally posted on
Updated on

The state's Supreme Court agreed to hear a case brought by Philadelphia's district attorney Seth Williams challenging Gov. Tom Wolf's moratorium on the death penalty last month, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Williams had filed a legal challenge to the moratorium calling it "illegal and unconstitutional."

Gov. Tom Wolf on Friday announced a moratorium on the death penalty in Pennsylvania that would remain in effect until his review of a forthcoming report by the Pennsylvania Task Force and Advisory Commission on Capital Punishment.

"Today's action comes after significant consideration and reflection," Wolf, who took office in January, said in a news release, adding that his decision was based on a "flawed system."

Wolf took the first step to placing the moratorium in effect by granting a temporary reprieve to death row inmate Terrance Williams who was scheduled to be executed on March 4.

He will grant reprieves — not commutations — in each future instance.

"This moratorium is in no way an expression of sympathy for the guilty on death row, all of whom have been convicted of committing heinous crimes," Wolf said in a statement. "This decision is based on a flawed system that has been proven to be an endless cycle of court proceedings as well as ineffective, unjust, and expensive."

He said the moratorium will remain in effect "until the commission produced its recommendation and all concerns are addressed satisfactorily."

Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at tasneem.nashrulla@buzzfeed.com.

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