News Update 02.27.08
The jury is still out in the Fayetteville murder trial of Jonte McLaurin. McLaurin could face the death penalty if found guilty of shooting Jonathan Kencaid Lee during a botched robbery.
Sister Helen Prejean spoke last night at First Presbyterian Church in Durham. She told the audience of her path to social activism and her hope that more states will follow New Jersey’s lead in abolishing the death penalty.
Of the six Guantanamo detainees who will face death before a military tribunal, only one has a lawyer and none has been able to meet with counsel. Defense lawyers and Navy personnel blame one another for an incident this month in which counsel were turned away from a scheduled visit with their client. No one has explained why five detainees have not been provided with the counsel to which they are entitled. The only trial completed at Guantanamo thus far resulted in a sentence of less than one year, from which the defendant has already been released. (c/o How Appealing)
A recent AP story applauded Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for not being as garrulous as his colleagues on the bench. Thomas has not asked a single question during oral arguments in the last two years. Instead, he leans back in his chair and stares at the ceiling. I fail to see how non-participation is a virtue, or why a person would be celebrated for approaching every day as if the world had nothing to teach them. Of course, one would think that some shred of intellectual curiosity would also be a prerequisite for being a journalist.
In reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision in Panetti v. Quarterman, South Dakota has laid out rules for how a judge should decide if an inmate is too mentally ill to be executed. (Scroll down to Section 10.) In sum, “The state has the burden of proving the mental competence of the defendant by a preponderance of the evidence. A defendant is mentally competent to be executed if the defendant is aware of the impending execution and the reason for it.” The bill awaits final approval from the Senate. (c/o StandDown)
Given all the flaws with Virginia‘s system of capital punishment, they have manged to get one thing right thus far: Virginia doesn’t kill people who don’t kill people. The state legislature is looking to change that.
The Fordham Urban Law Journal is presenting a truly impressive symposium entitled, The Lethal Injection Debate: Law and Science. Speakers will include law professors and practitioners (Deborah Denno, Douglas Berman, Elizabeth Semel, Richard Dieter, David Barron), judges (Jeremy Fogel, Fernando Gaitan) doctors (Mark Heath, Mark Dershwitz), and leading journalists (Harvey Weinstein, Adam Liptak). Former executioner Jerry Givens will also speak. The symposium will be presented on March 7th and 8th at Fordham Law School.