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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

Texas: Disbarment of Former District Attorney Upheld

Anthony Graves
Anthony Graves
Former Burleson County District Attorney Charles Sebesta Jr. will remain disbarred for his conduct in winning the wrongful capital murder conviction of Anthony Graves.

The Texas Board of Disciplinary Appeals Monday upheld Sebesta's disbarment for "professional misconduct" in the case.

Graves was sentenced to death for the 1992 killings of a Somerville family.

His co-defendant, Robert Carter, originally testified that Graves was involved, but later said only he was responsible for killing the family. 

The State Bar of Texas disbarred the former district attorney for several mistakes in the case, including not correcting Carter's testimony.

Carter was executed in 2000. A federal appeals court overturned Graves' conviction and ordered a new trial in 2006, and Graves was released in 2010 after 18 years behind bars — 16 of which were on death row.

After the bar's decision, Sebesta appealed to the board, arguing that changes in disciplinary procedures warranted overturning his disbarment.

Source: Texas Tribune, Jonathan Silver, Feb. 8, 2016

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