The New York Times says the CCA has indicated it will not allow any more executions until the SCOTUS decides the constitutionality of the lethal injection protocol. Did I miss a CCA ruling? I thought each county was making an independent decision.
John, you expect accuracy from the NYT? Especially about the death penalty? In Texas? My, you're optimistic!
Are you saying that the media, especially the big time liberal media, makes mistakes or writes with a liberal bent? Unbelieveable!
Next thing you'll be telling me there is no easter bunny!
There isn't. My grandpa shot him when I was about 7. Or so he told me then.
The NYT isn't fit for my brother's parakeet cage.
Linda Greenhouse may be one of the most overrated reporters in the country. Her "news" stories are almost all spin.
it seems fitting that her stories would be mostly gas or hot air.
October 19, 2007
Supreme Court Memo
Deciphering the State of the Death Penalty
By LINDA GREENHOUSE
WASHINGTON, Oct. 18 � Is there a death penalty moratorium now in place, and how would we know?
The Supreme Court has granted two stays of execution and refused to vacate a third in the three weeks since it agreed to hear a challenge to Kentucky�s use of lethal injection.
On Thursday, the Georgia Supreme Court became the latest state court to interpret the justices� actions as a signal to suspend at least some executions. It granted a stay to Jack Alderman, who had been scheduled to die by lethal injection Friday night for murdering his wife 33 years ago.
The top criminal court in Texas, a state that accounts for 405 of the 1,099 executions carried out in this country since 1976, has indicated that it will permit no more executions until the Supreme Court rules, sometime next spring. The Nevada Supreme Court this week postponed all executions in that state. The governor of Alabama gave one inmate a 45-day reprieve. The country�s most recent execution took place in Texas on the night of Sept. 25, hours after the Supreme Court announced its review of the Kentucky case.
This sequence of events has led some death penalty opponents and other analysts to declare that a de facto moratorium is in place.
�The states are getting the message,� Richard C. Dieter, director of the Death Penalty Information Center, an anti-death-penalty research organization, said in an interview. And Douglas A. Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University who has followed the issue closely, proclaimed �moratorium mojo� Thursday morning on his blog, Sentencing Law and Policy.
But there is enough ambiguity to warrant caution. Both the Kentucky case and the national situation are complex, and the signals the Supreme Court has been sending are far from clear.
For example, on Wednesday, in granting a stay four hours before the scheduled execution of a Virginia inmate, Christopher S. Emmett, the justices said the stay would last only until the federal appeals court in Richmond decided Mr. Emmett�s challenge to the state�s lethal injection protocol � not until their own ruling. The Supreme Court offered no commitment to extend the stay if the appeals court ruled against him.
And the Georgia Supreme Court�s one-paragraph order in Mr. Alderman�s case on Thursday noted pointedly that the inmate�s challenge to lethal injection �could not reasonably have been raised during the time applicant�s last state habeas petition was pending.�
Georgia adopted lethal injection as its method of execution only in 2000, while Mr. Alderman, the country�s longest-serving death row inmate, has been on death row more than 30 years and exhausted his appeals many years ago. The state court�s clear implication was that an inmate who was in a position to challenge lethal injection in a timely manner and yet failed to do so might be deemed to have forfeited the claim.
In another case, an Arkansas inmate, Jack H. Jones, raised the lethal injection issue nine years after his conviction and sentence became final. That tardiness apparently bothered only Justice Antonin Scalia on Tuesday, when by a vote of 8 to 1 the court denied an application by Arkansas to vacate a stay that the federal appeals court in St. Louis had granted to Mr. Jones.
Justice Scalia objected that the Supreme Court�s decision to hear the Kentucky case �does not alter the application of normal rules of procedure, including those related to timeliness.� He said the appeals court appeared to be operating on the �mistaken premise� that every lethal injection challenge now merited a stay.
While it might be tempting to infer from the silence of the other justices that the rest of the court has no such qualms about tardy claims, that is not necessarily the case. A stay granted by a lower court arrives with a certain presumption of correctness, and refusing to vacate it is an easier call than deciding to grant a stay in the first instance.
The justices, sticklers for procedure, have not yet been asked to grant a stay in a situation of clear �procedural default� � words that strike a chill in the heart of any Supreme Court advocate, even in a non-death-penalty case.
What would the court do in such a case? �I wouldn�t put my money on anything,� Elisabeth Semel, a leading death penalty expert, said in an interview.
Professor Semel, who runs the Death Penalty Clinic of Boalt Hall Law School at the University of California, Berkeley, said that �it would be inaccurate and very presumptuous to call this a moratorium.� Rather, she said, �what we�re seeing is a combination of different courts, and different executives, deciding to be prudent� while waiting to see what the Supreme Court will do.
The answer could be considerably less than many people seem to expect from the Kentucky case, Baze v. Rees. The question is not the constitutionality of lethal injection as such, and probably not even the constitutionality of the three-drug combination that inmates and their lawyers describe as posing an unacceptable risk of needless pain and suffering.
It is possible, even likely, that the justices will confine their eventual decision to the standard that the inmates need to meet to show that use of the three-drug combination amounts to cruel and unusual punishment within the meaning of the Eighth Amendment. Must it be shown to pose an unnecessary risk of pain? A substantial risk? Must prison officials be shown to act with �deliberate indifference� to an inmate�s suffering?
To say the least, these questions lie at some remove from the one question that brought all executions to a halt 35 years ago as the country held its breath and waited for an answer from the court: Is the death penalty constitutional?
ABA seeks execution moratorium
Study of states finds 'deeply flawed' process, inequities
By Maurice Possley | Tribune staff reporter
8:17 AM CDT, October 29, 2007
Digg Del.icio.us Facebook Fark Google Newsvine Reddit Yahoo Print Single page view Reprints Reader feedback Text size: The American Bar Association, concluding a three-year study of capital punishment systems in eight states, found so many inequities and shortfalls that the group is calling for a nationwide moratorium on executions.
In a study to be released Monday, the attorney organization, which has more than 400,000 members, said that death penalty systems in Indiana, Georgia, Ohio, Alabama and Tennessee in particular had so many problems that those states should institute a temporary halt to executions immediately until further study can be conducted.
They were among eight states studied that provided the basis for the association's call to halt executions nationwide.
"After carefully studying the way states across the spectrum handle executions, it has become crystal clear that the process is deeply flawed," Stephen Hanlon, chairman of the ABA's Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project, said in a statement.
The study also focused on death penalty systems in Arizona, Florida and Pennsylvania but did not find the same serious conditions as cited in the other five. The ABA says it does not take a position either for or against the death penalty.
The study found "significant racial disparities" in the imposition of the death penalty, inadequate indigent defense programs, failures in crime laboratories and a lack of uniformity in implementing nationally recognized best practices in eyewitness identification procedures as well as the recording of interrogations of suspects.
Joshua Marquis, district attorney in Clatsop County, Ore., and a vice president of the National District Attorneys Association, said, "I think the ABA should drop its pretense of being neutral on the death penalty. ... They are being disingenuous by simply declaring that they want a moratorium. The powers that be in the ABA want the death penalty abolished."
Marquis, who supports the death penalty, said, "There is no doubt that you could always improve on the system. But the things they've cited suggest epidemics when they aren't."
Beginning in 1997, the attorney organization called for moratoriums until "a thorough and exhaustive study to determine whether its system meets legal standards for fairness and due process" can be conducted.
In 2000, then-Gov. George Ryan, citing the release of several defendants from Death Row in Illinois, as well as reports in the Tribune about problems in the state's death penalty system, imposed a moratorium on executions. Three years later, Ryan emptied Death Row, commuting the death sentences of 156 prisoners to life terms, after the state legislature had failed to act on recommendations to improve the system. Subsequently, some of those measures, including videotaping of interrogations in murder cases, have been passed.
But some states, the ABA study said, have not required prosecutors' offices to establish policies on the exercise of prosecutorial discretion or to evaluate cases based on evidence that is less reliable such as testimony by jailhouse informants or eyewitness identification.
"Most states have cases in which courts have found serious misconduct by prosecutors in capital cases, yet the prosecutors are not disciplined by the state disciplinary organization," according to the report.
Most states "do not require preservation of the evidence -- particularly DNA evidence -- through the entire legal process until the accused is either released from prison or executed," the report said.
"Ultimately," it said, "serious problems were found in every state death penalty system."
DMN reports on increasing violence in Texas prisons. The media (unwittingly, perhaps) joins with AP Merillat and Royce Smithey.
Are they done already? What happened to this?
ABA's Texas Assessment Team
(Addendum: it's a good thing I bookmarked this page long ago, because I can't seem to get access to it any other way; as far as I can tell, the Texas project is not mentioned anywhere on the ABA's website anymore, unless you have the URL. Interesting ...)
[This message was edited by Shannon Edmonds on 10-29-07 at .]
Of course, this is why I dropped my membership in that organization shortly after becomming a prosecutor and realizing that not *all* lawyers were being truly represented.
Yes, that's right, as I've previously reported, the AMERICAN Bar Association funded this project with money from the European Union, a foreign government, to change public policy in this country.
BTW, this information was only put on the ABA's website after others brought out that point and the ABA didn't want people to think they were hiding that information (which they were).
Proud to say I have refused membership in the Anti-Prosecutor Bar Association since 1995.
Being Friday afternoon, taking a very quick break before I push through the final hour, I was checking relevant news stories. Here's a classic from The Onion 1998:
Murder Suspect To Be Tried By Media: Overworked Justice System Grateful For Help
LOS ANGELES�Overwhelmed by an enormous, ever-growing criminal caseload, the Los Angeles district attorney's office announced Monday that William Craig�arrested last week in connection with a string of high-profile Bel Air stabbings�will be tried by the media.
Said Harvard University Law School dean Nathan Unger: "Just yesterday in the Orange County Register, columnist Herbert Garowitz demanded the death penalty for Dozier, whom he described as 'human garbage who must pay dearly for these brutal murders which he obviously committed.' While ordinarily, such editorializing is fine for a columnist, Garowitz also happens to be the presiding judge in this case. This could present a major conflict of interest."
Dozier was unfazed by the criticism: "I can guarantee you that Mr. Craig will receive the same fair trial from the media that he would have received from America's first-rate judicial system.
The rest of the article
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