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YOUNGSTOWN Montgomery discusses death penalty, schools



Published: Thu, June 14, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



An Ohio death row inmate is more likely to die of old age than be executed, the attorney general said.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery would not be surprised if today's execution of convicted killer Jay D. Scott does not go off as planned.

Montgomery also would not be shocked if Scott, whose attorneys have delayed his execution twice, is never put to death.

Montgomery, in the Mahoning Valley for a $100-a-plate fund-raiser Wednesday, said the U.S. 6th District Court of Appeals is "antagonistic against the death penalty" and has continually put up obstacles in the way of the state's plan to execute its death row inmates including Scott, 48, convicted of the 1983 murder of a Cleveland delicatessen owner.

"With this federal court, you are more likely to die of old age on death row than from the death penalty," Montgomery told The Vindicator. "We plan on asking the federal court to exercise the same authority over these cases moving it along the process as they do with their other cases."

If he is executed, Scott would be the first Ohio inmate put to death against his will since 1963. A Cleveland man waived his appeals in 1999 and asked the state to carry out his death sentence.

Impact of delay: With another delay, the federal appeals court is casting doubt in people's minds about Scott's guilt and the judicial process, Montgomery said.

Scott came within minutes of execution April 17 and May 15.

Montgomery gave credit to Scott's attorneys for their creativity in getting the execution delayed, but believes "most of their avenues of appeal have been exhausted."

Montgomery said this is a busy week for her, between the Scott case and filing paperwork to meet Friday's Ohio Supreme Court deadline regarding the state's education funding formula.

The Ohio Supreme Court has twice ruled the state's system, which heavily relies on property taxes to fund schools, unconstitutional.

Proposed solution: Montgomery said a proposal which increases state funding for school facilities and the per-pupil cost, may not be the final answer, but she does not foresee a "wholesale rejection" of the plan.

She is concerned the court may rush through the process.

"We're going to file 30 to 40 banker boxes [of documents] Friday and more than 20 briefs Monday on this case," she said. "Oral arguments will be Wednesday. They've got to go through this evidence. It's hard for me to believe they're going to be well prepared with the briefs by Wednesday.

"I hope there's some scrutiny on the court to screen what's being presented. I worry how they can possibly digest this case."

Montgomery's second four-year term expires at the end of next year. She cannot run for the position in 2002 because of term limits.

She said that, in all likelihood, she will announce plans in the coming months to run for auditor next year.

skolnick@vindy.com




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