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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…

Texas death row inmate convicted of killing prison guard wins reprieve

Robert Pruett
Robert Pruett
HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) A Texas death row inmate who faced execution later this month for the murder of a corrections officer won a reprieve Thursday.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruling halted the scheduled Aug. 23 execution of Robert Pruett, 36, who was sentenced to death for the December 1999 stabbing death of corrections officer Daniel Nagle, 37, at the McConnell Prison Unit near Beeville.

Nagle was stabbed seven times and died of a heart attack.

Investigators found a ripped up disciplinary note beside his body that led them to Pruett, who was serving a 99-year sentence at the unit.

Pruett, who maintains his innocence, says his name was on the note found because the guard wrote him up for taking his lunch out into the yard.

Pruett's lawyers are appealing a ruling from the Bee County trial court that rejected arguments Pruett wouldn't have been convicted if results of DNA testing now available had been known at the time of his trial in 2002.

The appeals court set no timetable in its ruling Thursday and offered no further explanation.

Source: The Associated Press, August 11, 2016


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