News Update 11.06.07
The colonel in charge of the investigation has recommended that Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez should face the death penalty if convicted of killing two superior officers in Iraq in 2005. Although all those involved were part of the New York National Guard, the case is being handled at Ft. Bragg because its commanding general was in charge of ground forces in Iraq at the time of the killings.
The petitioner’s brief in Baze v. Rees, the lethal injection challenge taken on by the Supreme Court, is available here. The brief begins with a history of capital punishment methods in the United States and Kentucky, and then reviews the lethal injection protocol and its pitfalls. At its core, the legal argument is that because the Eighth Amendment prohibits the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain and the gratuitous infliction of suffering, states are required to avoid inflicting more pain than is necessary to cause death. Even if a method of execution could in theory be implemented in a humane manner, a constitutional line is crossed when the execution is carried out in an ill-conceived and haphazard manner which creates an intolerable risk of a torturous death. The brief suggests that lethal injection could be made constitutional if states changed the cocktail or took steps to ensure that inmates are properly anesthetized. The State’s brief is due December 3rd.
The Supreme Court has also granted cert in Arave v. Hoffman, an Idaho case which asks whether an attorney’s advice during plea negotiations can be so unreasonable as to constitute ineffective assistance of counsel, and what should be the remedy if it does. Maxwell Alton Hoffman faced the death penalty for killing a government informant. His court-appointed lawyer had never handled a murder case before and did not have current information on the state of death penalty jurisprudence. The lawyer advised Hoffman to reject a life-saving plea deal because he thought Idaho’s death penalty would soon be declared unconstitutional.
Amnesty International considers the state of capital punishment in the Middle East. To sum things up, Saudi Arabia executed a man over the weekend for witchcraft. Also, executions are on the rise in Iraq and Iran continues to execute children.