America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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…

Pakistan SC dismisses murder convict’s appeal after his death

ISLAMABAD: It took the top court nearly seven long years to take up and dismiss the petition of a death-row inmate, who died of natural causes in 2011.

A three-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, dismissed the criminal appeal of Akbar after receiving a report from the superintendent of District Jail Kasur that the appellant had died a natural death on January 20, 2011.

The deceased had murdered a person in Lahore in August 1999. Later, a trial court awarded him death sentence. In 2010, the Lahore High Court maintained the trial court’s order.

The same year, Akbar challenged the verdict in the apex court, but his plea was admitted for regular hearing in 2014. After three years on July 27, the bench resumed the hearing of his criminal appeal.

A copy of the two-page order is available with The Express Tribune.

According to the order, “A report dated July 22 was submitted by the superintendent of District Jail in Kasur, which showed that Akbar, the appellant, in criminal appeal No 334 of 2014, had died a natural death on January 20, 2011. In view of the development, the criminal appeal has abated to the extent of the said appellant.”

The bench also noted that two co-accused Yaqoob and Ansar Ali had been acquitted by the trial court on the basis of compromise and released from jail.

This is not the first case where the Supreme Court took up the case of convicted persons after their deaths.

The special bench, led by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, has been working tirelessly to decide criminal appeals for last couple of years.

The bench decided pending criminal appeals from 1993 to 2014 and now only 1,298 criminal appeals are pending. On the other hand, total pending cases are 35,375 in the apex court.

Justice Khosa has brought a quiet revolution to the apex court as he is heading a special bench that has decided around 7,000 criminal appeals during the last three years.

A senior Supreme Court official told The Express Tribune that the special bench is speeding up the hearing of listed cases on a daily basis and there was no need for adjournments.

Source: Express Tribune, Hasnaat Mailk, August 9, 2017

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