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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 -…

Supreme Court Sketch Artist Caught Clarence Thomas Sleeping And The Drawing Is Going Viral

Supreme Court Sketch Artist Caught Clarence Thomas Sleeping
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Caught Sleeping
Clarence Thomas may well be the most enigmatic person to ever serve as a justice on the United States Supreme Court. He speaks so rarely from the bench that he has been nicknamed “the Sphinx.” Until February of this year, he had not, in a decade, even asked a question from the bench. When he did, it was to fire off this query to Justice Department lawyer Ilana Eisenstein: Does a misdemeanor conviction of any other law “suspend a constitutional right?” When he was done, he went right back to his stone-faced silence.

Having been on the Supreme Court for a quarter century–Thomas took his place as an Associate Justice in 1991–it seems fair to wonder exactly what Justice Thomas thinks about as competing attorneys make their points and the other justices pepper them with numerous questions. Does he wish the other justices would be as silent as him so the debate could be over with more quickly, or might he already have determined which way he plans to vote prior to the oral arguments? Does he doodle on a pad, make notes, create a grocery list, write his name in calligraphy?

Or does he merely sleep? Do Supreme Court justices sleep on the bench? Is that even allowed?! Wouldn’t a justice sitting next to you give you an elbow to bring you back to reality?

Yes, thanks to the miracles of modern technology, it does indeed appear that Justice Thomas has fallen asleep and slumped down in his chair. Either that or one of his colleagues needs to administer emergency CPR, stat!

Admittedly, we’ve all gotten a bit drowsy on the job before. Some may even go so far as to catch a quick catnap from time to time when the boss isn’t around. But does it seem wise that a man whose decisions can directly affect the lives of every person in this country sleep on the job?


Source: Bipartisan Report, Andrew Bradford, April 23, 2016

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