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Capital Punishment in the United States Explained

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In our Explainer series, Fair Punishment Project lawyers help unpackage some of the most complicated issues in the criminal justice system. We break down the problems behind the headlines - like bail, civil asset forfeiture, or the Brady doctrine - so that everyone can understand them. Wherever possible, we try to utilize the stories of those affected by the criminal justice system to show how these laws and principles should work, and how they often fail. We will update our Explainers monthly to keep them current. Read our updated explainer here.
To beat the clock on the expiration of its lethal injection drug supply, this past April, Arkansas tried to execute 8 men over 1 days. The stories told in frantic legal filings and clemency petitions revealed a deeply disturbing picture. Ledell Lee may have had an intellectual disability that rendered him constitutionally ineligible for the death penalty, but he had a spate of bad lawyers who failed to timely present evidence of this claim -…

Florida Supreme Court halts Mark James Asay's execution

Mark James Asay
Mark James Asay
The Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the execution of Mark James Asay, just hours after hearing oral arguments in his case.

Asay, convicted in 1987 of 2 Jacksonville murders, was scheduled to be executed March 17. But a January ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Hurst vs. Florida threw the state's death penalty into chaos.

Arguing before the state court Wednesday morning, Asay's lawyer, Martin McClain, invoked Hurst, saying that the problems raised by the U.S. Supreme Court in its ruling directly relate to Asay's case.

Asay, like the other residents on Florida's death row in Raiford, Fla., was convicted of his crimes by a unanimous jury but sentenced to death by the judge on the jury's recommendation. The Hurst ruling said that the juries must make the final decision on death sentences.

McClain -- who was also the lawyer for Michael Ray Lambrix and successfully stayed his execution last month -- argued that suggests the jury's verdict should be unanimous. 

In Asay's case, the jury recommendation came on a 9-3 vote.

The Florida Supreme Court's unanimous ruling Wednesday doesn't say anything about the merits of Asay's case. It simply stops the execution, which was ordered by Gov. Rick Scott prior to the Hurst ruling.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, March 2, 2016

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