200th DNA Exoneration Expected Today

April 23, 2007

News Update 4.23.07

North Carolina

Victims’ families say inmate pain irrelevant, it’s time for executions.

Elsewhere

In California, legislature puts brakes on governor’s secret death chamber. The true cost of the project would have been nearly double what lawmakers were originally told.

In Colorado, legislators would rather spend millions of dollars trying to kill people than use the money to solve cold cases. There are more capital prosecutors in Colorado than there are people on death row.

In Illinois, court is expected to grant relief today to the 200th person exonerated based on DNA evidence. Jerry Miller spent 25 years in prison based on faulty eyewitness identifications.

In Ohio, innocent man freed after serving 16 1/2 years for a crime he did not commit. Randy Resh and his lawyers burst into tears of joy upon hearing the verdict: not guilty on all counts.

In Tennessee, American Bar Association calls on state to extend moratorium and fix problems with poor representation and disparity on death row. An execution has been scheduled for May 9th.

In Texas, district attorney asks county to pick up the tab for DNA and case reviews that freed 13 innocent men. Squabbling over who should pay could mean innocent people spend more time in prison.


Lethal Injection Update

April 17, 2007

Click here to view a brief filed on behalf of five North Carolina death row inmates (Jerry Conner, James Campbell, Archie Billings, Marcus Robinson, and James Thomas).

A little background. You may recall that the whole execution train got derailed back in January when it was determined that the State’s lethal injection protocol was never properly approved by the Council of State. The Council of State quickly OK’d said protocol. The problem? Administrative agencies like the Council are required by law to follow certain procedures, including holding public hearings about proposed rule changes, with which the Council failed to comply. Since then, the attorneys for a number of death row inmates have filed suit in the Office of Administrative Hearings to demand that the Council do things right. The Council responded by filing a motion to dismiss the suit, saying that they don’t have to follow the procedures. Above is the response of the inmates to that motion. Included are several appendices related to attempts made by the attorneys to gain access to the Council of State and prior litigation regarding the lethal injection protocol.

I will grant you that administrative law is not the most exciting thing in the world. Here is why this matters – the hearing that the Council of State should have held would have been the only opportunity for public comment on and revision of the flawed lethal injection protocol. The Council refused to hear from anyone other than the State’s attorneys and ignored evidence that the protocol puts inmates at an unconstitutional and unconscionable risk of dying an agonizing death. The people of North Carolina have been denied any input into this ultimate punishment to be carried out on their behalf.

The Department of Corrections is immune from administrative law regulations. Up until recently, they’ve been pretty much free to make up the execution protocol as they go along. For a while, the DOC was administering half of the barbiturate after the drugs that paralyze the muscles and stop the heart – when the inmate was already dead, and long after the anesthetic could have served its intended purpose. Jonas Salk they’re not. There are aspects of the current lethal injection protocol that are similarly nonsensical. Someone with a hand in designing the protocol ought to have some idea what they’re doing. Quite simply, the Council of State needs to be fully informed before it makes its decision.

Given that not following the rules is what got them into this mess in the first place, you would think the State would be a little more careful. It’s clear that the State just wants these men dead, by any means necessary. Having a lethal injection protocol that doesn’t inflict unnecessary torture on the condemned is not about giving undue dignity to cold-blooded killers. It’s about maintaining our own dignity, lest we become cold-blooded killers ourselves.


News Update 3.02.07

March 2, 2007

North Carolina

State and Medical Board at impasse over executions. More from The Winston-Salem Journal. The (Raleigh) News & Observer doesn’t expect a resolution until after Archie Billings’s and Allen Holman’s execution dates have passed. The issue is expected to go back to the courts.

The (Durham) Herald-Sun on why the State Bar is under almost as much scrutiny as Mike Nifong.

Elsewhere

In lieu of the usual out-of-state news, a few reading suggestions:

The Death Penalty: An American History by Stuart Banner – A neutral and highly detailed synopsis of four centuries of capital punishment in America. Learn about changes in crimes punishable by death, methods of execution, public reaction, arguments for and against the death penalty, and more.

The Death Penalty in America: Current Controversies by Hugo Adam Bedau – While the book is a bit out of date (published in 1998) and quite slanted towards abolition, it provides information from a variety of sources (practitioners, academics, statues, court decisions, government studies) on most of the major debates pertaining to capital punishment.


Executions – March 2007

March 1, 2007

1 – Landon D. May (PA – stay likely)
2 – Archie Lee Billings (NC – stayed)
6 – Robert Perez (TX)
6 – David Chimel (PA – stayed)
7 – Michael Boyd AKA Abu Shamad (TN – stayed)
7 – Joseph Nichols (TX)
9 – Allen R. Holman (NC – stay likely)
20 – Kenneth Brios (OH)
28 – Vincent Gutierrez (TX)
29 – Roy Pippin (TX)


News Update 2.22.07

February 22, 2007

North Carolina

The News and Observer on Archie Billings’ stay of execution.

Before the stay was granted, Archie Billings’ attorneys sought clemency from the Governor.

I’m not seeing a lot of coverage on the stays for Kenneth Rouse and George Page. Also no word on Allen Holman. I will add more articles should they appear.

Elsewhere

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley explained to The Washington Post why he opposes the death penalty.

Oklahoma man’s death sentence overturned due to ineffective assistance of counsel.

Our fellow death penalty nation Saudia Arabia recently hanged and publicly crucified four men convicted of robbery.


This Just In

February 21, 2007

Judge Don Stephens has issued a stay of execution for Archie Billings.

Similarly, Judge Terrence Boyle has stayed proceedings against Kenneth Rouse and George Page.


News Update 2.16.07

February 16, 2007

Given the slow news day, here is an update on upcoming executions, in chronological order.

North Carolina

March
Archie Lee Billings (stay likely)
Allen R. Holman, Sr. (stay likely)

Elsewhere

February
Edward Harbison, Tennessee (stayed)
Newton Burton Anderson, Texas
Donald Anthony Miller, Texas
Kevin Brian Dowling, Pennsylvania (stayed)
Daryl Holton, Tennessee (stayed)

March
Landon D. May, Pennsylvania (stay likely)
Robert Perez, Texas
David Chmiel, Pennsylvania (stayed)
Michael Boyd AKA Abu Samad, Tennessee (stayed)
Joseph Nichols, Texas
Kenneth Brios, Ohio
Vincent Gutierrez, Texas
Roy Pippin, Texas


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