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Will the Supreme Court Kill The Death Penalty This Term?

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Will the U.S. Supreme Court add the fate of the death penalty to a term already fraught with hot-button issues like partisan gerrymandering, warrantless surveillance, and a host of contentious First Amendment disputes?
That’s the hope of an ambitious Supreme Court petition seeking to abolish the ultimate punishment. But it runs headlong into the fact that only two justices have squarely called for a reexamination of the death penalty’s constitutionality.
Abel Hidalgo challenges Arizona’s capital punishment system—which sweeps too broadly, he says, because the state’s “aggravating factors” make 99 percent of first-degree murderers death-eligible—as well as the death penalty itself, arguing it’s cruel and unusual punishment.
He’s represented by former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal—among the most successful Supreme Court practitioners last term. Hidalgo also has the support of several outside groups who filed amicus briefs on his behalf, notably one from a group including Ari…

South Carolina: State asks for mental evaluation of Dylann Roof

Dylann Roof
Dylann Roof
Prosecutors say they want an independent psychological evaluation of accused church shooter Dylann Roof to rebut or confirm the findings from a pair of evaluations performed by the defense team's experts.

The request comes about a week after a judge delayed the murder trial until 2017 to give psychologists more time to draw conclusions about Roof's mental state. 

Defense attorneys estimated it would take another 6 months for the full reported to be completed.

"In the present case, recent hearings leave no doubt of the defense's intentions to present mental health evidence during the sentencing phase of this trial," Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said in the filing.

Wilson says the mental evaluation will be sealed from the State until the penalty phase begins to prevent self-incrimination by Roof.

Roof is accused of killing 9 black parishioners at Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston. He faces a number of murder and attempted murder charges for the shooting and prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty.

Roof also faces nearly three dozen federal hate crimes charges, but the Attorney General's office has not yet announced whether it will seek the death penalty also. As a result, that decision has caused a delay in scheduling the federal trial.

Roof's attorneys at the state and federal level have said multiple times that Roof is willing to plead guilty if prosecutors remove the possiblity of death as a sentence.

Source: WCIV news, April 21, 2016

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