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Supreme Court's liberal justices lash out at unprecedented 'rush' of executions as Trump leaves office

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"Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent tonight in U.S. v. Dustin Higgs will be remembered long into the future as one of the most thorough, resounding indictments of this administration’s reckless, immoral, illegal effort to execute as many people as possible, as quickly as possible." - Sister Helen Prejean (CNN) -- As the country focused on the aftermath of riots in the US Capitol and the unprecedented second impeachment of President Donald Trump, the liberal justices of the Supreme Court spent Trump's last full week in office battling his administration's long-term objective to execute 13 federal death row inmates in six months. Late Friday night, over the fiery objection of two Supreme Court justices, Dustin John Higgs became the 13th federal inmate to be put to death . It marked the last federal execution to take place under the Trump administration that announced in July 2019 that it was reinstating the federal death penalty after a nearly two-decade pause. Then-Atto

Appeals court stays Texas’ first scheduled 2021 execution

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The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Friday granted the stay for Blaine Milam, 31, to review intellectual disability claims. He had been set for lethal injection on Thursday for killing his girlfriend’s 13-month-old daughter during what the couple had said was part of an “exorcism.”  He was convicted of capital murder for the December 2008 slaying of Amora Carson at his trailer in Rusk County in East Texas. Milam’s girlfriend, Jesseca Carson, was also convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Prosecutors say Milam savagely beat, bit, strangled, and sexually mutilated the girl over a period of 30 hours. Milam’s attorneys say 3 of 4 experts who examined him determined Milam is intellectually disabled.  In its ruling, the appeals court ordered Milam’s claims of intellectual disability be reviewed by his trial court. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2002 barred the execution of intellectually disabled people, but it has given states some discretion to decide ho

Iran | Two Inmates Executed in Qazvin, Yazd

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Iran Human Rights (IHR); January 15, 2021: A prisoner who had been sentenced to death on “drug-related” charges, has been executed at Qazvin Central Prison. According to Iran Human Rights, a male prisoner was executed at Qazvin Central Prison on the morning of Thursday, January 15.  His identity has been established as Shabestar native, Shamseddin Soleimani. An informed source has told IHR: “Shamseddin Soleimani was arrested in 2016 on charges of carrying 85 kilograms of industrial drugs, and had repeatedly stated that they were not his and belonged to someone who had escaped the country after his arrest. Shamseddin was just the driver and had stated that in court. But the real owner of the drugs never owned up.” At the time of writing, the execution of Shamseddin Soleimani has not been reported by domestic media or officials in Iran. There has been a dramatic drop in drug-related executions since a new article was added to the Anti-Drugs Law around three years ago.  The amendment, whi

USA | Dustin Higgs becomes 13th and final federal prisoner executed under Trump

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“The Court has allowed the US to execute 13 people in 6 months...without resolving the serious claims the condemned individuals raised. Those whom the Government executed during this endeavor deserved more from this Court. I respectfully dissent.”  - J. Sotomayor, US v Higgs "Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent tonight in U.S. v. Dustin Higgs will be remembered long into the future as one of the most thorough, resounding indictments of this administration’s reckless, immoral, illegal effort to execute as many people as possible, as quickly as possible." - Sister Helen Prejean The 13th and last execution of a federal inmate under Donald Trump’s presidency has taken place in Terre Haute, Indiana. Dustin Higgs, 48, had been sentenced to death for the killings of three women in a Maryland wildlife refuge. His lawyers argued it was “arbitrary and inequitable” to execute him while Willis Haynes, the man who shot the women in 1996, was spared a death sentence. The federal judge who pr

Boston Marathon Bomber Appeal Is Early Biden Test on Death Penalty

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President-elect Joe Biden says he’s against the death penalty now. A case involving the surviving Boston Marathon bomber waiting for him on Day One will test if he means it. The Justice Department under President Donald Trump is petitioning the Supreme Court to reinstate the death sentences of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who won an appeals court ruling last year. The high court will next consider whether to grant review of the government’s appeal in private conference on Friday, after not acting on the petition when it was first up for consideration last week. The Supreme Court could announce as soon as Friday that it’s granting review; it could also deny to take it up in an orders list on Tuesday, or again take no action. Whatever the justices do, Biden’s administration will be confronted as soon as he takes office Jan. 20 with how to handle the case against one of the men responsible for the 2013 deadly bombing. Tsarnaev’s 2015 capital prosecution occurred during Biden’s vice presidential ten

USA | The administration’s six month reign of death: Opinion

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Only five states carried out a total of seven executions across the United States last year. That is the fewest state executions in nearly 40 years. However, that is not the full story when it comes to the death penalty in America. In the second half of 2020, in the midst of a pandemic and a reelection campaign, the Trump Administration decided to get back into the act of executing federal prisoners. After going 17 years without carrying out an execution the federal government carried out 10 executions in less than six months. By the end of 2020, the federal government had conducted more executions in five months than any other presidency since the turn of the 20th century, and scheduled more executions during a presidential transition period than any other administration in the history of the United States - knowing President-elect Joe Biden campaigned on abolishing the federal death penalty. Whether it was a ploy to bolster his tough guy bona fides or a lowbrow pitch to his “law and

USA | Federal Government Executes Corey Johnson, Who was Likely Intellectually Disabled, Without Any Judicial Review of His Eligibility for the Death Penalty

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For the second time in less than five weeks, the federal government has executed a death-row prisoner who likely was intellectually disabled, without affording him judicial review to determine his eligibility for the death penalty. Corey Johnson (pictured) was pronounced dead from lethal injection at 11:34 p.m. on January 14, 2021, the 12th federal prisoner executed in six months and the fifth in the transition period between Donald Trump’s defeat in the November 2020 presidential election and the scheduled inauguration of Joseph R. Biden on January 20, 2021. The only other time in U.S. history that as many as five transition-period executions took place was in 1884-1885 during the transition between Chester A. Arthur and the first presidency of Grover Cleveland. In an order issued at 10:00 p.m., four hours after Johnson was scheduled to be executed, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Johnson’s emergency application for a stay of execution to permit him to present evidence that the constitu

Iran | Two Brothers Executed in Ardebil

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Iran Human Rights (IHR); January 14, 2021: Two brothers who were sentenced to qisas (retribution-in-kind) for “premeditated murder” during a group fight, have been executed at Ardebil Central Prison. According to Iran Human Rights, two male prisoners were executed in the early hours of Wednesday, January 13.  In the same case, the two brothers had been arrested and convicted of “premeditated murder” during a group fight and sentenced to death around five years ago. Their identities have been established as Mehdi Feyzi and Moharam Feyzi, who were both around 40 years of age. At the time of writing, their executions have not been reported by domestic media or officials in Iran. According to Iran Human Rights’ annual report, at least 225 of the 280 of those executed in 2019 were charged with "premeditated murder." As there are no legal distinctions made between murder and manslaughter, whether voluntary or involuntary in Iran.  Those charged under the umbrella term of “premedita

USA | D.C. judges order Maryland man’s federal execution to go forward on Friday; Supreme Court rejects first of his two appeals

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A back-and-forth legal battle continued into the final hours before Dustin Higgs, 48, convicted in a triple murder in Prince George’s County in 1996, is scheduled to be executed Friday, which would make him the last federal inmate to be put to death under President Donald Trump as he leaves office. Higgs’ fate now lies with the U.S. Supreme Court, which Thursday night rejected one of two pending appeals to spare his life. The high court lifted a delay granted by a federal judge in Washington earlier in the week to Higgs and another federal inmate, Corey Johnson, 52, due to their diagnoses of COVID-19. Johnson, convicted of murdering seven people in Virginia, was executed at 11:34 p.m. Thursday , according to The Associated Press.  Higgs has another case remaining before the Supreme Court. RELATED |  Dustin Higgs, The Last Man To Be Executed In Terre Haute, Maintains His Innocence As with previous death penalty cases, the three liberal justices, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena

Belarus | First death sentence passed in 2021

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The following article has been Google translated from Uktainian. In Belarus, for the first time in 2021, the death penalty was handed down. Viktor Skrundzyk was sentenced to death in Slutsk. This was reported by the human rights organization " Viasna ". The decision was made by the Minsk Regional Court of Slutsk on January 15.  Skrundzik and three of his accomplices were found guilty of killing two retirees and attempting to kill an 85-year-old woman.  Two accomplices received 22 and 18 years of strict regime colonies, another - a year of work with the payment of 10% of wages. Skrundzik was first sentenced to death last year. However, in the fall, the Supreme Court overturned the decision and remanded the case for retrial. At the same time, human rights activists noted that in Belarus the death penalty is rarely imposed if the panel of the Supreme Court overturns the previous sentence. Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko has previously declared that the death penalty can b