The Michigan Daily - Monday, September 12, 1994 - 7
Incumbent Engler: is he using perks he despised as a challenger?
LANSING (AP) - When John Engler campaigned
for governor four years ago, he was the challenger railing
against incumbent Jim Blanchard's alleged use of state
resources for campaigning.
State-paid television ads touting Michigan, use of state
officials to campaign on behalf of the governor, and the
announcement of grants were all criticized by candidate
"All of that is thinly disguised state-funded campaign-
ing, in some cases not even disguised at all," candidate
Engler said in a June 1990 interview with The Associated
Engler called such use of state resources abuses. "They
should stop and I'm going to stop them when I'm gover-
But Democrats say Engler can't include that under his
"Promises Made, Promises Kept" campaign slogan.
"How blatantly hypocritical can you be?" said Gary
Corbin, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party.
"They know how to use and have used the power of the
office. ... I think it's an arrogance of leadership that
citizens start to understand and don't appreciate," he said.
Engler spokesman John Truscott said Friday being the
incumbent definitely has advantages.
"First, you have a record and accomplishments you
can talk about. Another point is you have a natural base of
things that you're doing in your normal job that allow you
to get out among the people," he said.
But Truscott said the Engler administration carefully
distinguishes between political and official events, not
using state funds for political ones.
"We go over it with a fine-tooth comb," he said.
Here's what candidate Engler said in 1990 and what
Engler has done in the past few months as an incumbent
seeking a second term: "In this case, the Blanchard admin-
istration views every state employee as working in their
campaign for them."
On July 21, state budget chief Patricia Woodworth and
Michigan Jobs Commission Vice President Doug Stites
held a news conference at Engler re-election campaign
headquarters to respond to a Democratic ad on the use of
job training funds.
Both Woodworth and Stites said they used vacation
time and didn't drive state cars to the event. The news
release handed out by the campaign described them as
"two top Engler Administration officials."
On July 18 state Treasurer Doug Roberts appeared at
a news conference held by Democratic candidate Howard
Wolpe criticizing the administration's investment of state
face death penalty
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Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES - The decision
by the Los Angeles County district
attorney's office not to seek the death
penalty against O.J. Simpson shifts
the dimensions of the closely watched
case, exposes the county's chief pros-
ecutor to potential political fallout
and dramatically alters many aspects
of the upcoming trial, most notably
the jury selection process.
In interviews Saturday, legal ana-
lysts and others said the decision in
the Simpson case may subtly affect
future death penalty cases and may, at
least in the short run, bring new atten-
tion to the issue of capital punishment
by linking it to such a well-known
Its greatest impact, however, will
be on the Simpson trial, where ex-
perts predict it will shape the panel of
prospective jurors, shorten jury se-
lection and possibly leave prosecu-
tors with a pool of potential jurors less
inclined to convict Simpson.
At the same time, the move repre-
sents the first step to lower the inten-
sity in the Simpson case, which has
galvanized national attention since the
bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and
Ronald Goldman were found June 13.
Moreover, the decision probably
means that the Simpson trial - which
already has sparked public discussion
about hot-button issues such as do-
mestic abuse, racism and police con-
duct - will not become a vehicle for
prolonged debate about yet another
volatile topic, the death penalty.
In the short run, opponents of capi-
tal punishment say the Simpson case
may call new attention to their efforts,
which have met with little support
from the general public.
"Simpson's case has educated
people about the importance of hav-
ing adequate legal representation as
well as having access to independent
experts and that is what is missing in
so many capital cases," said Stephen
B. Bright, director of the Southern
Center for Human Rights in Atlanta.
Bright cited the case of Gary
Nelson, sentenced to death in Geor-
gia in 1978 for raping and murdering
a 6-year-old girl. In contrast to the
high-powered team ofattorneys back-
ing Simpson, Nelson's lawyer had
never tried a death penalty case be-
fore, was paid about $20 an hour and
gave a closing argument that was a
miniscule 255 words.
Nelson spent 11 years on death row
before his conviction was overturned.
In the months since Simpson's
arrest, Bright said new attention has
focused on the death penalty and its
application. But he and others wor-
ried that interest may wane now that
the issue is disappearing from the
For District Attorney Gilbert
Garcetti, the issue is not likely to go
away so quickly. Few topics in crimi-
nal justice are as charged as capital
punishment, and some political ana-
lysts predict that if Garcetti runs for
re-election, he will have to fight off
accusations that he yielded to pres-
sure in the Simpson case.
Already, in fact, some critics have
accused his office of playing politics
by not seeking the death penalty
against Simpson while nevertheless
pursuing it against the Menendez
brothers, who are charged with first-
degree murder in the shotgun killings
of their parents.
Others attacked the district attor-
ney for failing to seek the penalty in a
case where domestic abuse is alleged.
And still others criticized him for
their perception that prosecutors re-
lied on a focs group that met last
month in Phoenix to help decide
whether to try to execute Simpson.
"The voters elected Garcetti to
make these decisions himself, not to
go to a focus group," said author John
Gregory Dunne, who described him-
self as "truly appalled" by that move.
"What I find most appalling is that
he went to Phoenix to a focus group,
and the focus group discussions indi-
cated that a death sentence would
never fly," said Dunne, who has writ-
ten about the Simpson case for an
upcoming issue of the New York
Review of Books.
"Eisenhower didn't use a focus
group in 1944 to decide whether to
attack in Normandy or Burgundy," he
Garcetti could face backlash from
women's groups as well. Gloria
Allred, a prominent Los Angeles law-
yer and president of the Women's
Equal Rights Legal Defense and Edu-
cation Fund, called a news confer-
ence Saturday to issue a furious de-
nunciation of the decision.
"The D.A.'s decision in my opin-
ion reflects a callous and conscious
disregard for the value that should be
placed on the life of Nicole Brown
Simpson and Ronald Goldman,"
"It is apparently not enough that
they were killed in a bloody and bru-
tal slaying but now to make matters
worse, they have, in my opinion, be-
come human sacrifices on the altar of
racial politics for the basest and
crassest of reasons, to try to shore up
the career of District Attorney Gil
Garcetti," she added.
Garcetti's office announced its
decision late Friday and said at that
time that prosecutors would not com-
ment on it further.
Although Garcetti and his office
will inherit the consequences for the
decision not to seek Simpson's ex-
ecution, most legal observers backed
the district attorney's move, saying
the Simpson case did not meet the
district attorney's criteria for capital
In fact, had the decision been an-
nounced soon after Simpson was
charged, most observers said pros-
ecutors probably would have faced
But even among observers who
supported the decision, many criti-
cized the district attorney's office for
not acting more quickly. Prosecutors
originally had said they would have a
final decision no later than Aug. 31.
Simpson's attorneys complained that
the delay hampered their efforts to
prepare for trial, and their concerns
were echoed by the judge and other
Moreover, by failing to disclose
their reasons for not seeking the death
penalty, the district attorney's office
raised questions about what distin-
guished this case from others in which
prosecutors ask for executions. The
Los Angeles district attorney's office
has 12 criteria to assess whether to
seek the death penalty, but prosecu-
tors did not reveal Friday which of
those criteria were applied in the
Standing unexplained, said Bruce
Fein, a former associate deputy attor-
ney general under President Reagan,
the decision is subject to a host of
"There is nothing in the record,"
he said, "that would discredit the
theory (that) you don't get the death
penalty if you're wealthy, if you have
resources to fight off prosecutors with
armies of attorneys, investigators,
Fein added that Garcetti's action
makes it clear that prosecutors "wield
an enormous amount of unfettered
discretion in how our criminal justice
laws are administered" and that there
is a need for clearer criteria on how
such decisions are made.
Leslie Abramson, the lawyer for
Erik Menendez, echoed criticism of
Garcetti's discretionary powers, say-
ing California courts have given pros-
ecutors such wide discretion in choos-
ing whether to seek capital punish-
ment that it may not be worth it to file
a motion demanding that the district
attorney drop its quest for the death
penalty against her client.
While the district attorney may be
grappling with the fallout from the
Simpson decision for months or even
years, the most immediate impacts
are on the coming trial. Experts say
they are likely to be profound.
Although many legal analysts said
they believed prosecutors partly de-
cided against seeking the death pen-
alty for fear that it would endanger
their chances of getting a conviction,
they also noted that the decision could
have the opposite effect.
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