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How about death penalty for ignoring constitution?

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POSTED April 10, 2014 12:48 a.m.

Phil Wyman makes Shakespeare look like a wimp.

Instead of simply killing off all of the corrupt and unethical lawyers as suggested by Shakespeare’s character Dick the Butcher in the play “Henry VI,” Wyman wants to execute all of California’s state lawmakers found guilty of crimes that endanger the lives of other people.

You may not know who Wyman is. That’s because he’s running for Attorney General as a candidate for California’s new third party – the Republicans.

Wyman isn’t just a frustrated political neophyte who is mad as hell and isn’t going to take it anymore. Wyman served for 17 years in the California Legislature.

One would think that he wasn’t serious about turning the Golden State into a banana republic but he is.

Wyman’s “one strike and the state nukes you” approach is in response to State Senate Leland Yee allegedly being sweet talked into arranging for an FBI undercover agent to purchase weapons such as shoulder launched rockets from known terrorist groups. 

While you can appreciate Wyman’s sentiments, it is his logic that should scare you.

He said prosecutors wouldn’t have to prove deaths occurred as an officeholder promoting the potential for violence would be enough.

That means an agent of the government – a prosecutor – would only have to prove that the action of a lawmaker led to the potential for violence.

Has he ever read some of the laws that were passed during the 17 years he roamed the State Capitol halls? A sane person could argue many legitimate laws such as those surrounding the right to own guns promote the potential for violence. Wyman himself could be prosecuted for creating the potential for violence given his consistent record of upholding the right to own guns.

Prosecutorial overreach isn’t exactly rare when it comes to crimes that go beyond the garden variety blue collar type.

One would think Wyman would know of the dangers of promoting such laws that once in the hands of government officials such as prosecutors can lead to unintended consequences.

And it isn’t the case of him not being specific.

This was not an off-the-cuff remark. He provided details on how said lawmakers should be executed. Actually, he believes they should be allowed to pick between three options: public hanging, firing squad or lethal injection. Even Shakespeare writing for an audience just a few decades removed from the Medieval Ages didn’t push that barbaric of a remedy to make his point. He was content to simply suggest the corrupt and unethical lawyers be killed. Wyman takes punishment to a new level.

The death penalty has its place. And as much as you might agree with the Little Lindbergh Law that led to California’s last execution for a convicted felon who didn’t murder anyone, Wyman’s suggestion should be viewed as overkill even by supporters of the death penalty.

Back in 1960, Caryl Chessman was convicted of kidnap and rape and sentenced to death. His victims has been moved more than 20 feet against their will and were then raped but not killed. If you know of anyone who has been forcibly detained and raped you could easily believe death would be an appropriate punishment. But if you apply the concept of justice – something that the American system despite all of its faults strives mightily to deliver – you’d have to agree it was right for California to end the death penalty for non-murderers.

And as much as we all detest corrupt politicians, it doesn’t say a heck of a lot about us if we followed the spirit of the late Los Angeles Police Chief Ed Davis who said we should “hang ‘em at the airport” as a way to deal with hijackers. Perhaps Wyman meant to borrow a page from Davis’ wishful playbook and expects public hanging of said corrupt lawmakers to take place at the State Capitol.

What makes this worse, especially if you are a Republican, is Wyman is a serious candidate for attorney general. Not that there was a good chance of anyone beating incumbent Democrat Kamala Harris in November to begin with, but Wyman’s utterance now make the odds of such an upset happening as the same as the Sacramento Kings winning six consecutive NBA championships.

As a side note, Wyman believes the state constitution invests the power in the attorney general’s office to unilaterally remove corrupt officials. A slight little problem. It doesn’t. 

Given the fact he served 17 years as a lawmaker he should know the answer, which is the legislature itself.

Just what we need. Another elected official who runs for office with no concept of constitutional boundaries.

Anyone willing to suggest the death penalty for politicians who ignore the California Constitution?

Instead of electing to be executed by public hanging, firing squad or lethal injection, they would be allowed death by only one means – listening to their campaign rhetoric 24/7, 365 days a year. 

A death penalty doesn’t get much more lethal than that.


This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209.249.3519.

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