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Prosecutors had their chances to submit evidence in defense of Georgia’s electric chair, and won’t get another, a Fulton County, Ga., judge has ruled. Fulton Superior Court Judge Wendy L. Shoob, who made history last month as the first Georgia judge to declare electrocution a cruel and unusual punishment, now has denied the state’s requests to reconsider her order and to reopen the evidence. In November, Fulton prosecutors chose not to put up evidence in defense of electrocution, rejecting advice from the state attorney general and disregarding warnings from Shoob that she would not rubber-stamp the issue. The prosecutors also declined to object to the defense’s evidence. But after Shoob’s Jan. 11 declaration that electrocution offends society’s evolving standards of decency, the Fulton District Attorney’s Office asked for another chance. Supported with an amicus curiae brief from the attorney general’s office, they argued that they were justified in relying on binding precedent from the Georgia Supreme Court upholding electrocution. Shoob wasn’t persuaded. She noted that prosecutors had two opportunities to submit evidence for her consideration before she made a ruling and had chosen not to do so. “The State has offered no compelling reason or excuse,” Shoob wrote in a Feb. 2 order, “but instead appears to desire to simply relitigate an issue which has been resolved, although adversely to its position. “Allowing the State to relitigate an issue merely because it is unhappy with the result would frustrate the rules of court and finality of court orders,” she added. Dawson v. State, No. Y-11554 (Fult. Super. Feb. 2, 2001). The Fulton district attorney’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment. Defense attorneys Thomas M. West and Robert H. Citronberg successfully argued the electric chair issue before Shoob on behalf of their client, Timothy Carl Dawson. Dawson is accused of the 1998 murders of three men at the Atlanta Hilton and Towers. Both sides will meet with Shoob next week to discuss whether the issue should go to the Georgia Supreme Court before or after Dawson’s trial, West says. The trial is scheduled for March 23. If Shoob certifies her ruling for such a pretrial review, the record, according to West, will provide the justices with the most extensive body of evidence on electrocution of any death penalty case that has come before them.

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