NC Supreme Court Hears Lethal Injection Arguments

March 14, 2011

The  North Carolina Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments this morning in a case involving five death row inmates and the Council of State.  This is the next step in ongoing litigation between the five inmates – Jerry Conner, James Campbell, J.T. Thomas, Marcus Robinson, and Archie Billings – and the Council of State, the group charged with approving North Carolina’s lethal injection protocol.  Briefs for the parties are here and here.  The central question before the Court today is whether the Wake County Superior Court was wrong to find that the inmates cannot challenge the Council’s decision to change the procedure by which they would be executed.

Update: Video of the argument is currently available online here.

Next Step in NC Lethal Injection Litigation

April 1, 2008

News Update 04.01.08

North Carolina

The latest filing in the ongoing Council of State litigation is available here. The inmates – Archie Billings, James Campbell, Jerry Conner, Marcus Robinson, and James Thomas – have asked the Superior Court to reject the State’s Motion to Dismiss and review the Council of State’s November decision to ignore the findings of an Administrative Law Judge and approve the Department of Correction’s proposed execution protocol. You can read past posts on the topic here, here, here, and here. The Council of State litigation affects only North Carolina cases, as opposed to Baze v. Rees, which affects death row inmates nationwide.

Through this weekend, you can catch the play “Still…Life” at UNC-Chapel Hill. From the web page: “Still…Life examines the Death Penalty in North Carolina using interviews with people from across the state that have been impacted by the Death Penalty. This process began in June, 2005. Interviewees included Death Row inmates, their families, victims, chaplains, attorneys, a warden, prison guards, and others.”

On April 14, Michael Radelet will be speaking at UNC-Greensboro as part of the Department of Sociology’s Colloquium Series. Radelet’s topic: The Changing Nature of Death Penalty Debates. Radelet’s work on wrongful capital convictions dates back to the 1980s, and he was a key figure in the Illinois study that led Governor Ryan to commute the sentences of everyone on death row. Call (336) 334-5295 for more information.


The ACLU of Northern California has released two reports on capital punishment in that state. The Hidden Death Tax details the true cost of the death penalty in California (e.g. executing everyone now on death row would cost $4 billion more than letting them die in prison), while Death by Geography shows how the death penalty is disproportionately administered across the state (e.g. if a murder is committed in Alameda County, the defendant is eight times more likely to be sentenced to death than had the same crime occurred in nearby Santa Clara). See also this report that California judges, prosecutors, and other law enforcement officials are calling for significant reforms in capital punishment.

Hopefully folks in Pennsylvania have been checking out the Voices of Hope, Agents of Change Tour, which wraps up this Thursday in Lancaster. Events feature talks from persons who have lost loved ones to murder as well as persons who have lost years of their lives to wrongful convictions. More here.

In the wake of its decision in Medellin, the Supreme Court has rejected the final appeals of seven Mexican nationals on Texas’ death row. (c/o CDW)

Court Asked to Reverse Council of State

December 4, 2007

News Update 12.04.07

North Carolina

Attorneys for five inmates on North Carolina’s death row have asked the Wake County Superior Court to review the Council of State’s February decision to approve a new lethal injection protocol. The complaint raises several issues: that the agency’s final decision was issued after the statutory deadline to do so had expired, that a member of the Attorney General’s Office engaged in ex parte communications with one or more members of the Council, that the Council ignored the valid opinion of the Administrative Law Judge, and that the Council failed to consider any of the evidence presented by the inmates. You can read the complaint here.


Kentucky has filed its brief in Baze v. Rees. The argument section of the brief begins, “Petitioners have been sentenced to death. Kentucky seeks to execute them in a relatively humane manner, and has worked hard to adopt such a procedure.” I was unaware that the constitutional standard is whether you did a decent job and tried real hard. For the record, at the end of its brief, Kentucky completely mischaracterizes the factual situation surrounding the BIS monitor in North Carolina. The federal court did not force DOC to use a BIS monitor, DOC bought one of their own volition and lied to the court about how it would be used. But I digress.

The US Supreme Court heard arguments in Snyder v. Louisiana this morning. The case revolves around racial discrimination in jury selection, but is more widely known due to the prosecutor’s comparison of the defendant to OJ Simpson, whom the prosecutor said had gotten away with murder. Snyder, a black man, was tried by an all-white jury after the prosecutor removed all eligible people of color from the jury pool.

Jerry Guerinot has had more clients sentenced to death than have been executed by Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Wyoming combined. The Guardian takes a look at his representation of Linda Carty, a British citizen on death row in Texas. The article notes that while Houston accounts for 1.3% of the US population overall, the city has produced 10% of our nation’s executions. (c/o CDW and Grits)

Texas recently marked the 25th anniversary of its first lethal injection.


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