Gov. Tom Wolf's death-penalty "moratorium" has stirred a lively discussion at a Pennsylvania Supreme Court hearing in Philadelphia, reported The Associated Press.
A top lawyer in the Philadelphia district attorney's office argued Thursday that Wolf's use of a reprieve to block the execution of a convicted killer who has run out of options violates the state constitution.
Hugh Burns said Wolf's vow to use reprieves to block executions pending completion of a legislative study on the death penalty is too vague.
Justices Debra Todd and Michael Eakin questioned whether Wolf's strategy is a moratorium or merely a series of individual reprieves.
Geoffrey Moulton, the lead attorney for Wolf's legal team, acknowledged that Wolf cannot suspend the death penalty but said he clearly has authority to grant temporary reprieves without having to explain why.
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