US Attorney ousted over tribal death penalty cases

The U.S. Attorney in Arizona was ousted after he clashed with political appointees over the use of the death penalty against tribal members, The Washington Post reports.

Paul Charlton didn't want to seek the death penalty in at least two cases, including one involving a member of the Navajo Nation.. Both times, he was overruled by the Department of Justice in Washington, the paper said.

The Navajo Nation opposes capital punishment. Under federal law, tribes can opt out of the death penalty for certain crimes, such as first-degree murder, but not for other crimes, such as carjacking resulting in death or kidnapping resulting in death.

In one highly-publicized case, Lezmond Mitchell, a member of the Navajo Nation, was sentenced to die for the deaths of a 63-year-old woman and her granddaughter. Mitchell's crimes involved carjacking and crossing of state lines.

The dispute was behind Charlton's forced resignation last fall, according to the paper. Several other U.S. Attorneys also were asked to leave after clashing with political appointees and the Republican party.

Get the Story:
6 of 7 Dismissed U.S. Attorneys Had Positive Job Evaluations (The Washington Post 2/18)

Relevant Links:
U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona -

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