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PAGE TITLE: http://westernsprings.suntimes.com
ARTICLE TITLE: Capital punishment a matter of justice
DATE: Monday 16 January 2012
AUTHOR: Robert B. Berlin
AUTHOR INFORMATION: Robert Berlin is a career prosecutor, Robert B. Berlin was appointed State's Attorney of DuPage County on December 14, 2010 to complete the unexpired term of Joseph Birkett. At the time of his appointment, State's Attorney Berlin was serving as the Chief of the Criminal Bureau of the DuPage County State's Attorney's Office. In that capacity, he supervised all of the Assistant State's Attorneys charged with the criminal prosecution function in DuPage County. He had previously served as the Deputy Chief of Criminal Bureau's Juvenile and Felony Trial Divisions. Prior to joining the DuPage County State's Attorney's Office in 2004, Mr. Berlin completed nearly four years as the First Assistant State's Attorney in Kane County, serving in an administrative and supervisory capacity over all office staff and reporting directly to the elected State's Attorney. From 1987-2001, Mr. Berlin was an Assistant State's Attorney in Cook County where he tried 68 felony jury trials, including 40 first degree murder cases, and hundreds of felony bench trials, including more than 50 homicide cases. During his time in Cook County, Mr. Berlin's assignments included the criminal appeals, misdemeanor, felony review, child exploitation, preliminary hearings and felony trial divisions. He also served as the deputy supervisor of criminal appeals. Mr. Berlin received the Association of Government Attorneys in Capital Litigation Board of Directors' Trial Award in August 2003 and the Outstanding Prosecutor Award in Kane County in 2004. He is a member of the Capital Litigation Trial Bar Screening Committee for the 16th Judicial Circuit and a member of DuPage County's Felony Investigative Assistance Team. He is a frequent lecturer on a variety of criminal justice issues for the Illinois State Appellate Prosecutor and the Illinois Prosecutor's Bar Association. In 1999, he presented to the American Prosecutors Research Institute Seminar on Hate Crimes. Mr. Berlin was raised in the northern suburbs of Chicago and is a graduate of Dickinson College and Washington University College of Law. Mr. Berlin resides in Clarendon Hills where he serves as an elected Republican Precinct Committeeman. He and his wife have two daughters whom he coaches in softball.
Last Modified: Jan 16, 2012 08:28AM
Capital punishment a matter of justice
I find myself compelled to respond to the Dec. 1 editorial opposing reinsating the death penalty.
On March 9, Gov. Quinn abolished the death penalty in Illinois and commuted the death sentences of 15 defendants who had committed some of the worst imaginable crimes despite the fact that the governor’s Capital Punishment Reform Study Committee concluded adopted reforms were working. The victims’ families were completely ignored.
The 2003 death penalty reforms, including mandatory videotaping of custodial interrogations, depositions of witnesses and the use of DNA, resulted in Illinois having the fairest death penalty system in the country. In fact, none of the inmates whose sentences were commuted by Quinn ever made any claims of actual innocence.
The death penalty does indeed deter murders. The recent murder of Jitka Vesel in Oak Brook on April 13, where the defendant researched the status of the death penalty in Illinois prior to killing the victim, is evidence of the deterrent effect.
Without the death penalty, more cases are going to trial, resulting in even greater costs to the taxpayers. I have yet to see one study that measures the cost to a victim’s family and an entire community when a horrific crime like the murder of Kelli O’Laughlin does not result in the appropriate penalty.
The truth of the matter is certain crimes are so evil and horrific that they tear at the very fabric of society, and those who favor capital punishment for such crimes are not proponents of the death penalty but proponents of justice.
Robert B. Berlin
DuPage County State’s Attorney
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