News Update 11.15.07
In Cabarrus County, Lisa Greene was in court yesterday, facing the death penalty for allegedly burning her house down with her children inside. Meanwhile in neighboring Mecklenberg County, Gilberto Miranda Cuellar received a life sentence for burning his house down with his children inside. (In Cuellar’s case, the children were shot in the head before the fire was set.)
[For non-lawyers, in Furman v. Georgia, Justice Potter Stewart wrote that "death sentences are cruel and unusual in the way that being struck by lightning is cruel and unusual," which is to say that rather than consistently sentencing the worst offenders to death for the worst crimes, we impose capital punishment in a manner that seems almost random.]
In Florida, a federal district court judge issued a stay of execution for Mark Dean Schwab yesterday. This morning, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated that stay. The execution is scheduled for 6 PM tonight. The ball is in SCOTUS’s court. (c/o SLAP)
This just in: The Supreme Court has stayed Schwab’s execution.
Capital Defense Weekly notes the latest voyage of Porcine Airlines: the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has commuted Gregory Van Alstyne’s death sentence to life without parole after finding that Van Alstyne is mentally retarded. You can read the flight plan, er, decision here.
In the case of Nevada v. Skolnik, in which the ACLU is arguing that even though a person has volunteered for execution, it is still unconstitutional to execute him using a flawed protocol, the state Supreme Court has issued an order for supplemental briefing. The Court is seeking further information on whether the parties have standing to challenge another person’s execution, what the First Amendment violations are as to the media outlets involved, and the exact nature of the Eighth Amendment argument being made. You can read the ACLU’s opening brief here. (c/o Harmful Error)
Lethalinjection.org, a site run by Boalt (UC-Berkeley) Law School’s Death Penalty Clinic has posted all of the amicus briefs filed thus far in Baze v. Kentucky. Among those weighing in for Mr. Baze: inmates from four other states, doctors and medical ethicists, veterinarians, and human rights groups. Two groups, anesthesiologists and an anesthesia awareness organization, filed neutral briefs. The state of Kentucky’s brief, and briefs in support of their position, are due at a later date.
Slate asks, “If academics, doctors, and prisoners—as well as death-penalty supporters and the guy who invented the protocol—have been criticizing the three-drug protocol for years, why haven’t the states switched methods?”