FEATURED POST

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…

Judge delays Dylann Roof's death penalty trial until January 2017

Dylann Roof
Dylann Roof
Defense lawyers requested postponement to complete psychiatric testing of man who is charged with killing nine black parishioners at a Charleston church

A South Carolina judge on Wednesday delayed until next year the state death penalty trial of Dylann Roof who is charged with killing nine black parishioners at a Charleston church in June of 2015.

Circuit judge JC Nicholson granted a request by Roof’s defense lawyers who provided documents saying a doctor needed two to six more months to complete psychiatric testing of Roof. No other details were mentioned at the hearing and Nicholson sealed the release of any information about Roof’s medical records.

Nicholson moved the trial to 17 January, with jury screening to begin in early December. The trial had been scheduled to start on 11 July – a date Nicholson had set almost a year earlier.

Nicholson warned the defense that he will not grant another postponement and at one point during the 30-minute hearing wondered whether the request was simply a means to delay the trial.

“I can assure you this is not a delaying tactic,” responded defense attorney William McGuire.

When the judge took up the request for the delay, the defense said it would simply rely on the motion it filed last week seeking a postponement.

That motion said that to begin selecting a jury for a trial this summer “while substantial investigation and preparation remains to be done in a case that is neither factually nor legally straightforward would deny the defendant the basic tools for an adequate defense.”

Nicholson said he wanted a monthly report from the doctor updating the court on the progress of the evaluation. Roof was not in the courtroom, although a number of family members of the shooting victims were.


Source: The Guardian, AP, April 13, 2016

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