The Missionary Society of Connecticut—the legal arm of the UCC's Connecticut Conference—filed suit with the Hartford Superior Court on Jan. 11 seeking a commutation hearing for Michael Ross, a Connecticut death row inmate who was scheduled to be executed on Jan. 26.
The suit follows a Jan. 4 letter of appeal by the Connecticut Conference to the state's Board of Pardons and Paroles, which was summarily denied. The suit, therefore, asks for "a temporary injunction to stay the execution" until the board has held a hearing and issued a decision.
"We assert that the Board of Pardons and Paroles has not adopted regulations governing commutation hearings and is therefore acting on an ad hoc basis, making up rules as it goes," said a statement released by the Conference office.
The Rev. Davida Foy Crabtree says the Connecticut Conference is prepared to take its legal action to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary.
"This action is taken on principle and has nothing to do with the particular individual due to be executed," Crabtree wrote in a Jan 4 pastoral letter. "... Our conclusion is that the death penalty only perpetuates violence and killing as acceptable solutions in our society. We cannot be passive when there is action that can be taken. Therefore we have chosen to act."
The UCC is the largest Protestant denomination in Connecticut.