EUGENE, Ore. — The Oregon Supreme Court has heard arguments from lawyers for a death-row inmate who wants to be executed and the governor, who refuses to let him die.
Gov. John Kitzhaber, who opposes capital punishment, regretted letting two other inmates be put to death and says he won't allow it to happen again.
However, a lawyer for inmate Gary Haugen argued Thursday that Kitzhaber exceeded his authority when he issued a temporary reprieve for the two-time murderer in 2011. The governor's reprieve delayed the execution until Kitzhaber leaves office.
The governor argues that his clemency power is absolute, and nobody can prevent him from doing what he believes to be in the state's best interest.
Kitzhaber has urged a statewide vote on abolishing the death penalty, and the Legislature could put it on the ballot in 2014.
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