Monday, May 24, 2010

What's NEW?

The following are from death penalty info dot org or CLICK here

Oklahoma Governor Grants Clemency
Posted: May 21, 2010
in Clemency Life Without Parole What's New What's New
Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry granted clemency to Richard Tandy Smith, who was originally sentenced to death for a 1986 shooting during an alleged drug deal. Earlier this year, the Pardon and Parole Board approved a clemency recommendation for Smith and forwarded it to the governor for approval. Governor Henry said, "This was a very difficult decision and one that I did not take lightly. I am always reluctant to intervene in a capital case, and I am very respectful of a jury's verdict, the prosecutors who tried the case and the victim's family who suffered because of the crime. However, after reviewing all of the evidence and hearing from both prosecutors and defense attorneys, I decided the Pardon and Parole Board made a proper recommendation to provide clemency and commute the death sentence. As a result, Richard Smith will be punished by serving the rest of his life behind bars without the possibility of parole."

Ohio Board Recommends Clemency Based on Questionable Expert Testimony
Posted: May 20, 2010
in Arbitrariness Clemency
The Ohio Parole Board recently recommended clemency for death row inmate Richard Nields, who was sentenced to death for killing his live-in girlfriend during an argument in 1997. The board questioned the validity of medical evidence used at trial that helped support the death sentence. Testimony provided by a doctor-in-training indicated the victim had been beaten and strangled. However, the deputy coroner and supervisor of the trainee told the parole board there was no scientific evidence to indicate when the victim had received those bruises. The board also cited concerns by the U.S. Court of Appeals that the death sentence barely fit the definition of capital punishment under Ohio's law, and similar concerns from a dissenting judge on the state Supreme Court. Justice Paul Pfeifer, who helped draft Ohio's death penalty as a state legislator in 1981, wrote that Nields's crime was not what lawmakers considered a death eligible case when the law was created. Gov. Ted Strickland will make the final decision on clemency.

NEW VOICES: Ohio Supreme Court Justice Calls for Review of State's Death Cases
Posted: May 19, 2010
Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul E. Pfeifer recently said all current death row cases should be reviewed to discern which ones warrant execution and which ones should be commuted to life in prison without parole. "There are probably few people in Ohio that are proud of the fact we are executing people at the same pace as Texas," Justice Pfeifer said. "When the next governor is sworn in, I think the state would be well served if a blue-ribbon panel was appointed to look at all those cases." Justice Pfeifer was one of three Republican state senators who led the effort to reinstate the death penalty in Ohio in 1981 after the U.S. Supreme Court declared the old law unconstitutional. Pfeifer emphasized that the point of the review was to decide if death is the appropriate punishment for those presently on death row, predicting that if the majority of the old cases were tried today under current law and societal standards (including the availability of life without parole sentences), they would not result in capital punishment. He also said, "the number of people we have accumulated on death row has been rather staggering. It's improbable that all of those are going to be executed." Ohio only sentenced one person to death in 2009, but is currently executing inmates at a rate of one per month.

Lawyer For British National Had Many Clients Sent to Texas Death Row
Posted: May 18, 2010
in Foreign Nationals Representation What's New What's New
Twenty clients of Texas defense attorney Jerry Guerinot have been sentenced to death–a number higher than the death row populations of 18 death penalty states around the country. Guerinot also represented Linda Carty, a British national who was facing the death penalty for arranging a murder. She asserts she was wrongly convicted and poorly represented by Guerinot. He failed to visit her for three months after being appointed her counsel, did not call key witnesses who would have testified on her behalf, and neglected to contact the British Consulate for legal assistance. Regarding trial preparation, Carty stated, "I met this guy for less than 15 minutes. Once." David Dow, litigation director of the Texas Defender Service, which represents some of Guerinot's former clients who are now on death row, said the large number of death sentences reflect a failure to conduct simple investigations. "He doesn't even pick the low-hanging fruit which is hitting him in the head as he's walking under the tree." Steve Humphries, a filmmaker investigating Carty's case, said in a brief urging the Supreme Court to hear Carty's case, "It is no exaggeration to suggest that Mr. Guerinot has perhaps the worst record of any capital lawyer in the United States."

Federal Judge Asks U.S. Attorney General to Re-consider Death Penalty Over Costs
Posted: May 17, 2010
in About DPIC Costs Federal Death Penalty What's New
United States District Court Judge Nicholas Garaufis recently wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asking that the government reconsider seeking the federal death penalty in the trial of a reputed mob boss. According to Judge Garaufis's letter, preparations for the murder trial of Vinny Basciano in Brooklyn, N.Y., have already cost the government over $3 million in legal fees since 2005, and the trial proceedings have not yet begun. "Current circumstances require a candid reappraisal of whether the resources necessary for a death-penalty prosecution should be devoted to this case," Garaufis wrote. The defendant is already serving a life sentence without parole for the murder of another rival.

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