Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

February 26, 2007


Host: Tony Femino

ASU Engineering School


  • Upon entering its 50th year, the Arizona State University Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering has a new dean, Deirdre Meldrum. Meldrum will discuss the school and the role of women in engineering.
Guests:
  • Peter Ozanne - Assistant county manager for criminal justice
  • Justice Michael Ryan - Chair of the Capital Case Task Force
Category: Education

View Transcript
Tony Femino:
Tonight on "Horizon," one of the most serious issues facing the criminal justice system in Arizona. Death penalty cases are clogging the system and a task force is formed. We meet the new dean of the school of engineering at A.S.U. the first woman to hold that position. That's next on "horizon."

Tony Femino:
Good evening. Thanks for joining us on "Horizon." I'm Tony Femino. In an essay in the Arizona Republic on the state's death penalty process, Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas states,
"complaints from underworked criminal defense attorneys and opponents of capital punishment will not shake my commitment to pursuing long overdue reforms of a badly broken system." There are more than 130 capital cases in Maricopa county, the most ever. Thomas has sought the death penalty in about 50\% of first degree murder cases. His predecessor, Rick Romley, sought the death penalty anywhere from 30 to 40\%. The county's office of contract council says it can no longer find enough qualified attorneys to handle cases. This has prompted the superior court presiding judge, James Keppel, to call for an unprecedented meeting Friday with the county attorney and defense attorneys. He says he's not seen more serious issues facing the criminal justice system. Joining me is the assistant county manager for criminal justice peter Ozanne. He will tell us what the defense attorneys are saying. We invited county attorney Andrew Thomas to join us as well, but he said he would rather not go public with anything before the march 2 hearing. Peter Ozanne, thank you for joining us.

Peter Ozanne:
Thank you.

Tony Femino:
How serious is this?

Peter Ozanne:
It's very serious. I think it's serious, of course, for the defendants accused of capital offenses and also serious for the taxpayers. At the point where he will tell us what the defense attorneys are saying. Can no longer find competent council or attempting to add cases to lawyers who are already overworked, the likelihood of error in a case is increased, the likelihood of a an appeal, of a successful appeal and retrial. Many states' retrial rate in death penalty cases is around 50\%. So we do it right the first time, we have quality council, council who have the appropriate case load, council that are qualified, we'll save the taxpayers money as well as provide good services.

Tony Femino:
Okay, for a simplistic standpoint so I understand this also, there are probably people saying, well, seems like there's a lot of attorneys. Can't we just go out and find attorneys for these death cases? What specifically makes it so difficult or such a large case load to deal with death cases?

Peter Ozanne:
Well, a variety of things. First of all, having practiced law myself for 30 years, almost no one does everything. Law is now specialized. First of all, you really can't practice criminal law unless you do it full-time. The complexity of capital cases is essentially the most kind of cases, you have mental defenses, experts testifying to the sanity or insanity or capacity of the defendants. The United States supreme court has developed a number of rules regarding what we call mitigation, what extenuating circumstances can be taken into account, and that's very complex. It's really required a whole core of new mitigation specialists to be trained and hired and lawyers really specialize in this area. It's really the most complex, most difficult area. Of course life and death.

Tony Femino:
How much does it cost to hire a defense attorney for a capital case? What are we talking about in tax dollars?

Peter Ozanne:
Well, there are two kinds of systems. There are three fully staffed offices, full-time lawyers, who are county employees. I believe a capital -- I just arrived here recently, but I believe a capital lawyer who specializes in capital cases is paid in the low six figures, about $110, $120,000, about what an associate in my private law firm would have received.

Tony Femino:
Is that more than in other cases? Do you pay more for this difficult work?

Peter Ozanne:
More for a senior lawyer qualified for that kind of work.

Tony Femino:
The county attorney has been very specific. He says the defense lawyers are leisurely with their work habits. They aren't working hard enough. My office handles twice or three times the case loads. Why can't they take on more work?

Peter Ozanne:
Well, I certainly need to work with Mr. Thomas, so I don't want to get in an adversarial position with him. I'm not a member of the Arizona bar, but I think I heard him say his deputies take about ten cases on average. I know of no state in which defense attorneys take more than three cases at a time. It's a very individual thing. Cases vary in complexity. Some are very difficult, some are more easy, or easier than the average. But I would say it's typically two to three cases a lawyer should take. If more than that, the lawyer is really overloaded. The prosecutor, of course, has the advantage of professional witnesses, police departments to prepare cases, more resources on the taxpayer dollars.

Tony Femino:
The criticism from the county attorney about the defense is they stall. They are taking too long. Isn't that part of a good defense that it should take too long?

Peter Ozanne:
No, I think both the prosecutor and the defense are officers of the court. They are both obliged to follow the law. As a practical matter, both sides have issues around delays, witnesses available to them, problems with their cases. Really lawyers often agree to continuances. It's not just one side that agrees to continuances. I think actually what many of us have been talking about, it's up to the courts to really hold the attorneys' feet to the fire on both sides.

Tony Femino:
We have about 30 seconds left. What solution would you like to see?

Peter Ozanne:
I think we need to first of all inventory our capacity throughout the system. In other words, how many qualified or potentially qualified lawyers are there in the offices? I'm afraid we may have to consider raising rates to draw other lawyers into the system. That's certainly something judge, James Keppel, Keppel will question or answer one of our questions us about on Friday. I think we may be, although I have just arrived and started to inventory the system, we may be close to tapping out the capacity of the system. When that happens we can't create lawyers, we can't invent lawyers. As I said at the beginning, we don't want to put in unqualified or incompetent lawyers because they will come back on appeal.

Tony Femino:
Thank you for joining us on "Horizon."

Tony Femino:
The Arizona supreme court is also taking action on this issue. Last Friday the first meeting of the capital case task force convened. Chief justice Ruth McGregor formally established the task force to address the backlog of death penalty cases in Maricopa county. She opened the meeting.

Ruth McGregor:
Last December our court became aware of a challenge facing the Maricopa county superior court in dealing with capital litigation. Started looking into exactly what the situation was there. Maricopa county superior court and the other justice agencies were looking at capital case litigation in this superior court to consider what could be done there, but the impact of a large number of cases rolls beyond the superior court. It comes to the appellate system within Arizona specifically to our court where the appeals of death cases come directly, and then it rolls on to the federal court for federal Habeus proceedings. All along the way every part of the system is impacted. Defendants are impacted, the state is impacted, the court and its resources are impacted. Appeared, of course, depending upon what's happening with one category of cases all the rest of the court system is affected. We have a lot of our resources devoted to capital cases, that means there are relatively fewer resources for family courts, for civil litigation, other types of criminal cases. So everything is affected when we face the challenge like we do with the capital cases pending in Maricopa county. Past history has told us that the only way to sort of get a handle on this sort of situation and find out how we can deal with it is to bring all the stake holders together so that we're in one place where everybody's concerns can be expressed and considered. So that's the purpose of this task force. It's to look at the capital cases not just in the sense of what happens in the superior court but in a broader sense. And to be looking at it with the concerns of all parts of the system of being addressed all along the way. We're hoping that the task force can come up with some ways of meeting this challenge. Our court is willing to consider any suggestions from the task force. You may find that processes and rules need to be considered for changing and we're willing to look at that. You may find that we need to have more resources in our courts. And in related agencies. If that's true you have -- we hope we can define what resources are needed and how they can be best used and deployed. Our major concern is throughout your discussion you try to look at the interests of all parts of the system so that whatever we're talking about we're concerned with the obligation of the state, we're concerned with the position of the defendant, we're concerned with the position of the victims of the crime, and we're concerned with the justice system as a whole. I'm so grateful that all of you specifically each one of you agreed to serve on this task force because we knew who we 8 wanted to have on the task force. We knew who could bring the necessary knowledge and attitude that we think will help us and you all agreed to serve and I'm most grateful for that. I'm also very grateful to justice Ryan for taking his time to chair this task force. I think all of you know of justice Ryan's experience in capital litigation as well as other litigation, as a prosecutor who prosecuted capital cases, as a trial judge, James Keppel, who presided over many capital cases, and now as a member of the supreme court who can see cases from the appellant point of view and post conviction point of view. Probably nobody brings the same skill and depth of nothing to chair the task force in the same objective view toward them as justice Ryan can bring.

Tony Femino:
Here now, the chair of the capital case task force, justice Michael Ryan. Thank you for joining me tonight on "horizon."

Michael D.Ryan:
You're welcome.

Tony Femino:
Tell me about this task force. Why is it needed?

Michael D. Ryan:
It's needed because to be candid we have a crisis. The crisis is because of the number of cases pending in Maricopa county that are charged as capital offenses. There are approximately 130 pending cases. This does not count the cases that are already on direct appeal. These are cases that --

Tony Femino:
Can you put this in perspective? When you say 130, 135. Nationally is Maricopa county wait above average? Is this a red flag situation?

Michael D Ryan:
Compared to counties of similar size, we're significantly higher than, say, Los Angeles county, which actually has three times the population. We have almost double the number of capital cases pending in Maricopa county than they do in Los Angeles.

Tony Femino:
What type of problems does this cause for you an the supreme court? How does this affect what you have to do?

Michael D Ryan:
It causes problems at every stage of the process. It causes problems at the trial level because of the problem of getting competent council, enough competent council to cover these cases. Then once a defendant is convicted and sentenced to death, there's an automatic direct appeal to the Arizona supreme court, which then creates problems for us processing the cases in a timely fashion. Right now, for a single justice to process a case or for the court to process a case, it requires us to devote one clerk per case. Probably the most we can handle in any given year is between 10 and 12 capital cases.

Tony Femino:
10 and 12, and we're talking about 135 going through the pipeline right now.

Michael D Ryan:
Not all will end up as death penalty cases, but say 50 or 60\% of them end up as death penalty cases. That means somewhere in the area of 70 cases coming into our court that we will have to process. Then we affirm it, after that starts to petition post conviction relief process in the state court. That requires even more resources from other attorneys that have to make claims of ineffective assistance of council at trial or on appeal or both. That system goes through its process and comes back to us again. Finally there's the federal review. Once the case has gone through the whole state process, you know, direct appeal, petition for post conviction relief, then it goes to federal habeus review. So the federal court here in Arizona has to process those cases and that goes to the 9th circuit.

Tony Femino:
We're getting an idea. Sounds quite complex.

Michael D Ryan: It is.

Tony Femino:
So far at least what the public knows from reading newspapers or watching television, it seems like this is a bit of a at this time for at that time kind of street fight that's going on. We have name-calling from one side saying that defense attorneys are working hard -- aren't working hard enough, and other folks say we're stalling. With this task force, are you entering a street fight? Is that what you're going to have to deal with?

Michael D Ryan:
No, no. Our job is to find the bottlenecks in the process, to try to find adequate resources and if it requires certain rule changes or statutory changes, then we will make those recommendations and try to get those changes made. Our job is to try and make sure that these cases are processed in a timely fashion yet giving the defendant due process so people don't get wrongly convicted or the cases get poorly tried and have to be reversed and tried again, and that the victims see the case processed in a fashion that they feel that their interests are being -- considered because it's very important that a victim feel that they are not left out of the process and that they understand that the case is being processed as best as can possibly be processed.

Tony Femino:
Justice, you mentioned the term crisis. You used the word crisis. On what level is this a crisis? It's a level of crisis from the Supreme Court perspective, from the taxpayer perspective, the defendant's perspective? What do you mean when you say crisis?

Michael D Ryan:
I would say all three. It's going to cost money. There's no question or answer one of our quesitons about it. If it continues on like this, it will require hiring more council, more competent council. It will require some adjustments in the appellate process whether it's hiring more judges or whatever to handle these capital cases, and all this will cost money.

Tony Femino:
How is the task force related, if at all, to this March 2 hearing coming up?

Michael D. Ryan:
It's related in one respect is that the judge, James Keppel, that's presiding over that is a member of our task force, judge, James Keppel, Keppel. I am hoping that he gets some information that will be able to help us in our job. We don't want to duplicate what Maricopa county is doing either through the court administrator's office or supervisors or judge, James Keppel, Keppel's proceeding. But we do need information, and we do need data so that we know exactly what type of -- the numbers that we have to deal with.

Tony Femino:
Thank you for joining us. It's an important issue. I hope you come back and fill us in on the details from this task force. Thank you for joining us.

Michael D Ryan:
Thank you.

Tony Femino:
As the Arizona state university IRA a. Fulton school of engineering began its 50th year it has a new dean, Deirdre Meldrum, the first female dean of the school and one of half a dozen female deans of engineering colleges in the united states. I'll talk to her about women and engineering and about the school of engineering. But, First Mike Sauceda tells us about the center for Ecogenomics which will be headed by Meldrum.

Mike Sauceda:
The center is housed at the Biodesign institute at Tempe. The center serves as headquarters to the micro scale life sciences center. Its researchers study different types of cell models. Traditional methods of research on cells using measures of the average reaction population of cells does not adequately capture the mechanisms of disease because gene expression is highly individualistic and diseased cells don't fit in the norm of behavior. Researchers address cell to cell variations in physiological parameters by studying cellular activities such as respiration at the single cell level. It houses a portion of the work conducted by Neptune, a project to build a cabled underwater observatory for real time experiments. The biological, chemical and physical environments at microbial levels and the overlying water colony.

Tony Femino:
Here now to tell us more about the center for Ecogenomics is its new dean, Deirdre Meldrum. Welcome to a. S. U.

Deirdre Meldrum:
Thank you.

Tony Femino:
I'm going to read you a quote that probably everybody has heard. It's not been in the news in the last few months, but this is from the ex Harvard president Lawrence Summer. Women don't have the same innate abilities in math and science as men. Here you are with this incredible biography, the dean of this incredible school at A.S.U., with all kinds of credentials. When you heard that as a scientist, a female, somebody high up in academia, how did you respond?

Deirdre Meldrum:
First of all, that's a comment that has certainly gotten broad attention and really doesn't make a lot of sense. As you know there are a lot of women in engineering and in scientific fields that excel. I think there was quite a lot of astonishment that he made such a statement. We've gone past that now and are moving forward and thinking about how we get more women in engineering and science.

Tony Femino:
Why aren't there more women in engineering? The data shows that it's still a male-dominated field. And mathematics. Why?

Deirdre Meldrum:
There's a lot of issues that we are addressing and trying to understand. In about 1978, there were about 12\% engineering students were women. It plateaued in about 2000 to 20\% of women students in engineering. Now we're back to 17\% at Arizona state and nationallly, so the numbers are actually going down.

Tony Femino:
Is that something you plan on addressing?

Deirdre Meldrum:
It's important and I spent all of today and will spend tomorrow working on issues related to that.

Tony Femino:
How do you do that, dean? How do you attract, if it's a quota situation where you're trying to get 50/50 or even up to 30\%, how do you do it?

Deirdre Meldrum:
We need to tackle it from a lot of different directions. We need to be teaching the science, technology and engineering math skills to students when they are in kindergarten through 12th grade and get students engaged early on. We need to do a better job recruiting students and engaging them when they first come into the university. Make our freshman courses exciting, let them know what engineering is, what its impact is on society and how exciting it is and how you can use your creativity, math and skills to do something that has relevance on society.

Tony Femino:
Is there still a stigma, women don't do this, they study the classics, they study journalism? Is there still that?

Deirdre Meldrum:
There is some, but I would say not that much any more. I would say i deal with the same problems as a dean as a male dean does. There are eight engineering deans that are women in the country out of about, say, 400. Those numbers are growing. I think males as they have more women in their classes in engineering they are getting more used to having women in their courses. It's not so much of an issue any more.

Tony Femino:
We have about two minutes left. If you'll help me understand your science, it's so fascinating, when I was reading about this, a lot of your work is studying cells and how it applies to, say, heart disease and cancer. What is it you're doing? Can you easily explain this so i can understand it?

Deirdre Meldrum:
We're trying to understand the fundamentals of how a cell works. You start with a normal cell. Some will go on to die and some will go on to proliferate or keep growing and dividing. That's when you get the case of cancer. We're trying to understand what those mechanisms are that make a path live or die. Then we work with medical doctors at the Fred Hutchison cancer research institute. By understanding those pathways and doing studies on the cells we're trying to relate that to specifically our studying cancer of the esophagus and also inflammation as it relates to heart disease and stroke.

Tony Femino:
Are you the only one doing this work or do you have competition?

Deirdre Meldrum:
There are others working on single cell studies, but we have been at the forefront. We have one of the foremost centers. I brought the grant with me to A.S.U.

Tony Femino:
Is that part of the 18 million grant?

Deirdre Meldrum:
Yes.

Tony Femino:
Which is impressive. $18 million is a significant grant in academia.

Deirdre Meldrum:
Yes, it is.

Tony Femino:
With that $18 million, is that how the game is -- that $18 million --

Deirdre Meldrum:
Especially for experimental research which requires experimentation and laboratory facilities to do these types of experiments as well as fund the people that do the work. We work across a bunch of different disciplines including chemists, biologists, physicists, engineers, physicians, microbiologists and so on. It's that opportunity to work together that enables this research. That's what we'll be working on here at A.S.U.

Tony Femino:
Fascinating. I'm excited to hear more about this as you settle in. That's the dean. Deirdre Meldrum, on "Horizon."

Deirdre Meldrum:
Thank you, Tony.

Merry Lucero:
Find out what Arizonans think about several bills being considered by the state's legislature including immigration related bills as we unveil the latest Cronkite 8 poll. Poll Director Bruce Merrill and his associated director will discuss the results. That's Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. on "Horizon."

Tony Femino:
Thank you for joining me on "Horizon." I want to thank our guests. I'm Tony Femino.

Death Penalty Task Force


  • Arizona's Supreme Court Chief Justice Ruth McGregor is establishing a task force to address the backlog of death penalty cases in Maricopa County. HORIZON will look at the task force’s goals.
Guests:
  • Peter Ozanne - Assistant county manager for criminal justice
  • Justice Michael Ryan - Chair of the Capital Case Task Force
Category: Law

View Transcript
Tony Femino:
Tonight on "Horizon," one of the most serious issues facing the criminal justice system in Arizona. Death penalty cases are clogging the system and a task force is formed. We meet the new dean of the school of engineering at A.S.U. the first woman to hold that position. That's next on "horizon."

Tony Femino:
Good evening. Thanks for joining us on "Horizon." I'm Tony Femino. In an essay in the Arizona Republic on the state's death penalty process, Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas states,
"complaints from underworked criminal defense attorneys and opponents of capital punishment will not shake my commitment to pursuing long overdue reforms of a badly broken system." There are more than 130 capital cases in Maricopa county, the most ever. Thomas has sought the death penalty in about 50\% of first degree murder cases. His predecessor, Rick Romley, sought the death penalty anywhere from 30 to 40\%. The county's office of contract council says it can no longer find enough qualified attorneys to handle cases. This has prompted the superior court presiding judge, James Keppel, to call for an unprecedented meeting Friday with the county attorney and defense attorneys. He says he's not seen more serious issues facing the criminal justice system. Joining me is the assistant county manager for criminal justice peter Ozanne. He will tell us what the defense attorneys are saying. We invited county attorney Andrew Thomas to join us as well, but he said he would rather not go public with anything before the march 2 hearing. Peter Ozanne, thank you for joining us.

Peter Ozanne:
Thank you.

Tony Femino:
How serious is this?

Peter Ozanne:
It's very serious. I think it's serious, of course, for the defendants accused of capital offenses and also serious for the taxpayers. At the point where he will tell us what the defense attorneys are saying. Can no longer find competent council or attempting to add cases to lawyers who are already overworked, the likelihood of error in a case is increased, the likelihood of a an appeal, of a successful appeal and retrial. Many states' retrial rate in death penalty cases is around 50\%. So we do it right the first time, we have quality council, council who have the appropriate case load, council that are qualified, we'll save the taxpayers money as well as provide good services.

Tony Femino:
Okay, for a simplistic standpoint so I understand this also, there are probably people saying, well, seems like there's a lot of attorneys. Can't we just go out and find attorneys for these death cases? What specifically makes it so difficult or such a large case load to deal with death cases?

Peter Ozanne:
Well, a variety of things. First of all, having practiced law myself for 30 years, almost no one does everything. Law is now specialized. First of all, you really can't practice criminal law unless you do it full-time. The complexity of capital cases is essentially the most kind of cases, you have mental defenses, experts testifying to the sanity or insanity or capacity of the defendants. The United States supreme court has developed a number of rules regarding what we call mitigation, what extenuating circumstances can be taken into account, and that's very complex. It's really required a whole core of new mitigation specialists to be trained and hired and lawyers really specialize in this area. It's really the most complex, most difficult area. Of course life and death.

Tony Femino:
How much does it cost to hire a defense attorney for a capital case? What are we talking about in tax dollars?

Peter Ozanne:
Well, there are two kinds of systems. There are three fully staffed offices, full-time lawyers, who are county employees. I believe a capital -- I just arrived here recently, but I believe a capital lawyer who specializes in capital cases is paid in the low six figures, about $110, $120,000, about what an associate in my private law firm would have received.

Tony Femino:
Is that more than in other cases? Do you pay more for this difficult work?

Peter Ozanne:
More for a senior lawyer qualified for that kind of work.

Tony Femino:
The county attorney has been very specific. He says the defense lawyers are leisurely with their work habits. They aren't working hard enough. My office handles twice or three times the case loads. Why can't they take on more work?

Peter Ozanne:
Well, I certainly need to work with Mr. Thomas, so I don't want to get in an adversarial position with him. I'm not a member of the Arizona bar, but I think I heard him say his deputies take about ten cases on average. I know of no state in which defense attorneys take more than three cases at a time. It's a very individual thing. Cases vary in complexity. Some are very difficult, some are more easy, or easier than the average. But I would say it's typically two to three cases a lawyer should take. If more than that, the lawyer is really overloaded. The prosecutor, of course, has the advantage of professional witnesses, police departments to prepare cases, more resources on the taxpayer dollars.

Tony Femino:
The criticism from the county attorney about the defense is they stall. They are taking too long. Isn't that part of a good defense that it should take too long?

Peter Ozanne:
No, I think both the prosecutor and the defense are officers of the court. They are both obliged to follow the law. As a practical matter, both sides have issues around delays, witnesses available to them, problems with their cases. Really lawyers often agree to continuances. It's not just one side that agrees to continuances. I think actually what many of us have been talking about, it's up to the courts to really hold the attorneys' feet to the fire on both sides.

Tony Femino:
We have about 30 seconds left. What solution would you like to see?

Peter Ozanne:
I think we need to first of all inventory our capacity throughout the system. In other words, how many qualified or potentially qualified lawyers are there in the offices? I'm afraid we may have to consider raising rates to draw other lawyers into the system. That's certainly something judge, James Keppel, Keppel will question or answer one of our questions us about on Friday. I think we may be, although I have just arrived and started to inventory the system, we may be close to tapping out the capacity of the system. When that happens we can't create lawyers, we can't invent lawyers. As I said at the beginning, we don't want to put in unqualified or incompetent lawyers because they will come back on appeal.

Tony Femino:
Thank you for joining us on "Horizon."

Tony Femino:
The Arizona supreme court is also taking action on this issue. Last Friday the first meeting of the capital case task force convened. Chief justice Ruth McGregor formally established the task force to address the backlog of death penalty cases in Maricopa county. She opened the meeting.

Ruth McGregor:
Last December our court became aware of a challenge facing the Maricopa county superior court in dealing with capital litigation. Started looking into exactly what the situation was there. Maricopa county superior court and the other justice agencies were looking at capital case litigation in this superior court to consider what could be done there, but the impact of a large number of cases rolls beyond the superior court. It comes to the appellate system within Arizona specifically to our court where the appeals of death cases come directly, and then it rolls on to the federal court for federal Habeus proceedings. All along the way every part of the system is impacted. Defendants are impacted, the state is impacted, the court and its resources are impacted. Appeared, of course, depending upon what's happening with one category of cases all the rest of the court system is affected. We have a lot of our resources devoted to capital cases, that means there are relatively fewer resources for family courts, for civil litigation, other types of criminal cases. So everything is affected when we face the challenge like we do with the capital cases pending in Maricopa county. Past history has told us that the only way to sort of get a handle on this sort of situation and find out how we can deal with it is to bring all the stake holders together so that we're in one place where everybody's concerns can be expressed and considered. So that's the purpose of this task force. It's to look at the capital cases not just in the sense of what happens in the superior court but in a broader sense. And to be looking at it with the concerns of all parts of the system of being addressed all along the way. We're hoping that the task force can come up with some ways of meeting this challenge. Our court is willing to consider any suggestions from the task force. You may find that processes and rules need to be considered for changing and we're willing to look at that. You may find that we need to have more resources in our courts. And in related agencies. If that's true you have -- we hope we can define what resources are needed and how they can be best used and deployed. Our major concern is throughout your discussion you try to look at the interests of all parts of the system so that whatever we're talking about we're concerned with the obligation of the state, we're concerned with the position of the defendant, we're concerned with the position of the victims of the crime, and we're concerned with the justice system as a whole. I'm so grateful that all of you specifically each one of you agreed to serve on this task force because we knew who we 8 wanted to have on the task force. We knew who could bring the necessary knowledge and attitude that we think will help us and you all agreed to serve and I'm most grateful for that. I'm also very grateful to justice Ryan for taking his time to chair this task force. I think all of you know of justice Ryan's experience in capital litigation as well as other litigation, as a prosecutor who prosecuted capital cases, as a trial judge, James Keppel, who presided over many capital cases, and now as a member of the supreme court who can see cases from the appellant point of view and post conviction point of view. Probably nobody brings the same skill and depth of nothing to chair the task force in the same objective view toward them as justice Ryan can bring.

Tony Femino:
Here now, the chair of the capital case task force, justice Michael Ryan. Thank you for joining me tonight on "horizon."

Michael D.Ryan:
You're welcome.

Tony Femino:
Tell me about this task force. Why is it needed?

Michael D. Ryan:
It's needed because to be candid we have a crisis. The crisis is because of the number of cases pending in Maricopa county that are charged as capital offenses. There are approximately 130 pending cases. This does not count the cases that are already on direct appeal. These are cases that --

Tony Femino:
Can you put this in perspective? When you say 130, 135. Nationally is Maricopa county wait above average? Is this a red flag situation?

Michael D Ryan:
Compared to counties of similar size, we're significantly higher than, say, Los Angeles county, which actually has three times the population. We have almost double the number of capital cases pending in Maricopa county than they do in Los Angeles.

Tony Femino:
What type of problems does this cause for you an the supreme court? How does this affect what you have to do?

Michael D Ryan:
It causes problems at every stage of the process. It causes problems at the trial level because of the problem of getting competent council, enough competent council to cover these cases. Then once a defendant is convicted and sentenced to death, there's an automatic direct appeal to the Arizona supreme court, which then creates problems for us processing the cases in a timely fashion. Right now, for a single justice to process a case or for the court to process a case, it requires us to devote one clerk per case. Probably the most we can handle in any given year is between 10 and 12 capital cases.

Tony Femino:
10 and 12, and we're talking about 135 going through the pipeline right now.

Michael D Ryan:
Not all will end up as death penalty cases, but say 50 or 60\% of them end up as death penalty cases. That means somewhere in the area of 70 cases coming into our court that we will have to process. Then we affirm it, after that starts to petition post conviction relief process in the state court. That requires even more resources from other attorneys that have to make claims of ineffective assistance of council at trial or on appeal or both. That system goes through its process and comes back to us again. Finally there's the federal review. Once the case has gone through the whole state process, you know, direct appeal, petition for post conviction relief, then it goes to federal habeus review. So the federal court here in Arizona has to process those cases and that goes to the 9th circuit.

Tony Femino:
We're getting an idea. Sounds quite complex.

Michael D Ryan: It is.

Tony Femino:
So far at least what the public knows from reading newspapers or watching television, it seems like this is a bit of a at this time for at that time kind of street fight that's going on. We have name-calling from one side saying that defense attorneys are working hard -- aren't working hard enough, and other folks say we're stalling. With this task force, are you entering a street fight? Is that what you're going to have to deal with?

Michael D Ryan:
No, no. Our job is to find the bottlenecks in the process, to try to find adequate resources and if it requires certain rule changes or statutory changes, then we will make those recommendations and try to get those changes made. Our job is to try and make sure that these cases are processed in a timely fashion yet giving the defendant due process so people don't get wrongly convicted or the cases get poorly tried and have to be reversed and tried again, and that the victims see the case processed in a fashion that they feel that their interests are being -- considered because it's very important that a victim feel that they are not left out of the process and that they understand that the case is being processed as best as can possibly be processed.

Tony Femino:
Justice, you mentioned the term crisis. You used the word crisis. On what level is this a crisis? It's a level of crisis from the Supreme Court perspective, from the taxpayer perspective, the defendant's perspective? What do you mean when you say crisis?

Michael D Ryan:
I would say all three. It's going to cost money. There's no question or answer one of our quesitons about it. If it continues on like this, it will require hiring more council, more competent council. It will require some adjustments in the appellate process whether it's hiring more judges or whatever to handle these capital cases, and all this will cost money.

Tony Femino:
How is the task force related, if at all, to this March 2 hearing coming up?

Michael D. Ryan:
It's related in one respect is that the judge, James Keppel, that's presiding over that is a member of our task force, judge, James Keppel, Keppel. I am hoping that he gets some information that will be able to help us in our job. We don't want to duplicate what Maricopa county is doing either through the court administrator's office or supervisors or judge, James Keppel, Keppel's proceeding. But we do need information, and we do need data so that we know exactly what type of -- the numbers that we have to deal with.

Tony Femino:
Thank you for joining us. It's an important issue. I hope you come back and fill us in on the details from this task force. Thank you for joining us.

Michael D Ryan:
Thank you.

Tony Femino:
As the Arizona state university IRA a. Fulton school of engineering began its 50th year it has a new dean, Deirdre Meldrum, the first female dean of the school and one of half a dozen female deans of engineering colleges in the united states. I'll talk to her about women and engineering and about the school of engineering. But, First Mike Sauceda tells us about the center for Ecogenomics which will be headed by Meldrum.

Mike Sauceda:
The center is housed at the Biodesign institute at Tempe. The center serves as headquarters to the micro scale life sciences center. Its researchers study different types of cell models. Traditional methods of research on cells using measures of the average reaction population of cells does not adequately capture the mechanisms of disease because gene expression is highly individualistic and diseased cells don't fit in the norm of behavior. Researchers address cell to cell variations in physiological parameters by studying cellular activities such as respiration at the single cell level. It houses a portion of the work conducted by Neptune, a project to build a cabled underwater observatory for real time experiments. The biological, chemical and physical environments at microbial levels and the overlying water colony.

Tony Femino:
Here now to tell us more about the center for Ecogenomics is its new dean, Deirdre Meldrum. Welcome to a. S. U.

Deirdre Meldrum:
Thank you.

Tony Femino:
I'm going to read you a quote that probably everybody has heard. It's not been in the news in the last few months, but this is from the ex Harvard president Lawrence Summer. Women don't have the same innate abilities in math and science as men. Here you are with this incredible biography, the dean of this incredible school at A.S.U., with all kinds of credentials. When you heard that as a scientist, a female, somebody high up in academia, how did you respond?

Deirdre Meldrum:
First of all, that's a comment that has certainly gotten broad attention and really doesn't make a lot of sense. As you know there are a lot of women in engineering and in scientific fields that excel. I think there was quite a lot of astonishment that he made such a statement. We've gone past that now and are moving forward and thinking about how we get more women in engineering and science.

Tony Femino:
Why aren't there more women in engineering? The data shows that it's still a male-dominated field. And mathematics. Why?

Deirdre Meldrum:
There's a lot of issues that we are addressing and trying to understand. In about 1978, there were about 12\% engineering students were women. It plateaued in about 2000 to 20\% of women students in engineering. Now we're back to 17\% at Arizona state and nationallly, so the numbers are actually going down.

Tony Femino:
Is that something you plan on addressing?

Deirdre Meldrum:
It's important and I spent all of today and will spend tomorrow working on issues related to that.

Tony Femino:
How do you do that, dean? How do you attract, if it's a quota situation where you're trying to get 50/50 or even up to 30\%, how do you do it?

Deirdre Meldrum:
We need to tackle it from a lot of different directions. We need to be teaching the science, technology and engineering math skills to students when they are in kindergarten through 12th grade and get students engaged early on. We need to do a better job recruiting students and engaging them when they first come into the university. Make our freshman courses exciting, let them know what engineering is, what its impact is on society and how exciting it is and how you can use your creativity, math and skills to do something that has relevance on society.

Tony Femino:
Is there still a stigma, women don't do this, they study the classics, they study journalism? Is there still that?

Deirdre Meldrum:
There is some, but I would say not that much any more. I would say i deal with the same problems as a dean as a male dean does. There are eight engineering deans that are women in the country out of about, say, 400. Those numbers are growing. I think males as they have more women in their classes in engineering they are getting more used to having women in their courses. It's not so much of an issue any more.

Tony Femino:
We have about two minutes left. If you'll help me understand your science, it's so fascinating, when I was reading about this, a lot of your work is studying cells and how it applies to, say, heart disease and cancer. What is it you're doing? Can you easily explain this so i can understand it?

Deirdre Meldrum:
We're trying to understand the fundamentals of how a cell works. You start with a normal cell. Some will go on to die and some will go on to proliferate or keep growing and dividing. That's when you get the case of cancer. We're trying to understand what those mechanisms are that make a path live or die. Then we work with medical doctors at the Fred Hutchison cancer research institute. By understanding those pathways and doing studies on the cells we're trying to relate that to specifically our studying cancer of the esophagus and also inflammation as it relates to heart disease and stroke.

Tony Femino:
Are you the only one doing this work or do you have competition?

Deirdre Meldrum:
There are others working on single cell studies, but we have been at the forefront. We have one of the foremost centers. I brought the grant with me to A.S.U.

Tony Femino:
Is that part of the 18 million grant?

Deirdre Meldrum:
Yes.

Tony Femino:
Which is impressive. $18 million is a significant grant in academia.

Deirdre Meldrum:
Yes, it is.

Tony Femino:
With that $18 million, is that how the game is -- that $18 million --

Deirdre Meldrum:
Especially for experimental research which requires experimentation and laboratory facilities to do these types of experiments as well as fund the people that do the work. We work across a bunch of different disciplines including chemists, biologists, physicists, engineers, physicians, microbiologists and so on. It's that opportunity to work together that enables this research. That's what we'll be working on here at A.S.U.

Tony Femino:
Fascinating. I'm excited to hear more about this as you settle in. That's the dean. Deirdre Meldrum, on "Horizon."

Deirdre Meldrum:
Thank you, Tony.

Merry Lucero:
Find out what Arizonans think about several bills being considered by the state's legislature including immigration related bills as we unveil the latest Cronkite 8 poll. Poll Director Bruce Merrill and his associated director will discuss the results. That's Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. on "Horizon."

Tony Femino:
Thank you for joining me on "Horizon." I want to thank our guests. I'm Tony Femino.

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