A veteran defense attorney claims politics drives how states handle the death penalty, including Missouri. Attorney Kent Gipson, with the Public Interest Litigation Clinic in Kansas City, says former President Richard Nixon changed the political landscape when he succeeded by promising to get tough on crime, making opposition tothe death penalty political suicide. And, Gipson says the politics won’t stop there. He says appeals in death penalty cases rely on the politics of the judge who handles the case more than its merits.