Justice Paul E. Pfeifer is a Republican who, as a state Senator, was heavily involved in passing the capital punishment bill that became Ohio’s death penalty law in 1981. He is currently a Justice on Ohio’s Supreme Court and has been since 1993. He was re-elected again last November. Yesterday, after he was sworn in to begin his fourth term, he called for Ohio to end its association with the death penalty.
Justice Pfeifer has watched as Ohio has become the second most prolific executioner in America (behind Texas), and he has expressed increasing concern that prosecutors have resorted to the death penalty too much. Last May, he called for a review of all death sentences in Ohio, saying that “few people in Ohio that are proud of the fact we are executing people at the same pace as Texas.”
Yesterday, he said of Ohio’s death penalty:
“I have concluded that it is exceedingly difficult for this statute to be administered in a fair and just way …These are important matters that need all of our thoughtful attention — need the attention of the legislature to consider seriously whether we’re well-served by this statute any longer …The time has come for us to make that change.”
Judge Pfiefer’s speech begins, somewhat goofily, at 50:40 of the swearing-in ceremony video below. He begins speaking about the death penalty at 1:09:28.