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Should Michael Addison be put to death?

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On October 16, 2006, Michael Addison shot police officer Michael Briggs in Manchester. The shooting took place as Briggs and his partner were responding to a domestic disturbance call involving Addison. Officers ordered Addison to freeze, but he walked away. When Briggs ordered him to stop again, Addison turned and shot Briggs. Addison then fled down an alley and was eventually apprehended in Massachusetts.

Attorney General Kelly Ayotte sought the death penalty for Addison, since killing a police officer is a capital crime in New Hampshire. In December 2008, a jury convicted Addison and he was sentenced to death by lethal injection. 

Status of Addison’s appeals

Since then, Michael Addison has been appealing this ruling. In 2015, the New Hampshire Supreme Court upheld his death sentence. Currently, Addison is further appealing his conviction. This means that, for the time being, Addison’s fate hangs in legal limbo.

New Hampshire has repealed the death penalty

Earlier this year, New Hampshire repealed the death penalty when the Legislature overturned Gov. Sununu’s veto. During the debate over the bill, many argued that capital punishment should not be repealed because doing so would mean Addison wouldn’t have to pay the ultimate price for killing a police officer. In response to this concern, the repeal bill explicitly states that it only applies to capital murder convictions from the day the law was enacted going forward. 

Could Addison be spared from execution?

This means that Addison is sure to be executed, right? Well, not so fast. In 2012, Connecticut repealed capital punishment, but also tried to exempt current death row inmates. The state supreme court ruled that there would be no more executions in the state, however. Those who were on death row had their sentences converted to life in prison. 

In the Connecticut case, the judge ruled that capital punishment violated the state’s constitutional prohibition against “excessive or disproportionate punishment” in light of “contemporary standards of decency.” The New Hampshire Supreme Court, on the other hand, has previously argued that execution does not violate our constitutional prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishment.” The court has pointed to the fact that the framers of the state constitution didn’t think capital punishment was wrong.

Now that the death penalty is repealed and a new chief justice is coming in, it’s hard to know how the New Hampshire Supreme Court will rule.

Michael Addison should not be put to death

Those who believe the courts should commute Addison’s sentence to life in prison argue that it is hypocritical for the state to kill him after having repealed the death penalty. If the death penalty is truly repealed, it should mean that no one else will be executed in New Hampshire.

Addison’s crimes deserve the highest punishment

Those who feel Addison should still be put to death despite the recent death penalty repeal argue that doing otherwise would be unfair to slain officer Michael Briggs’s family. They also note that the repeal bill clearly exempted Addison. Legislators’ intent should be honored by carrying out Addison’s execution.


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