2018 Death Penalty report: Saudi Arabia’s False Promise

With crown prince Mohammed bin Salman at the helm, 2018 was a deeply violent and barbaric year for Saudi Arabia, under his de facto leadership.
PhotoDeera Square is a public space located in front of the Religious Police building in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in which public executions (usually by beheading) take place. It is sometimes known as Justice Square and colloquially called Chop Chop Square. After Friday prayers, police and other officials clear the area to make way for the execution to take place. After the beheading of the condemned, the head is stitched to the body which is wrapped up and taken away for the final rites.
This year execution rates of 149 executions, shows an increase from the previous year of three executions, indicating that death penalty trends are soaring and there is no reversal of this trend in sight.
The execution rates between 2015-2018 are amongst the highest recorded in the Kingdom since the 1990s and coincide with the ascension of king Salman to the t…

Texas: Shock belt use cited as part of James Calvert's death penalty appeal

Shock belt
A man on death row for a brutal Smith County murder says the electric shock he received during trial violated his constitutional rights.

James Calvert was convicted in 2015 of capital murder and sentenced to death for fatally shooting his ex-wife, Jelena Sriraman, and abducting their child in October 2012.

Calvert was sentenced to death after a lengthy, if somewhat bizarre, trial in Smith County's 241st District Court.

Calvert's death penalty sentence automatically triggered an appeal, which was filed this past October with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

Several points of error are presented in the appeal. The 1st point alleges that the electric shock violated Calvert's rights to, "substantive and procedural due process," while a 2nd point alleges the trial court erred by refusing to grant a mistrial after the electric shock incident.

"The trial court had lesser alternatives, and allowing bailiffs to use a 50,000-volt shock device in these circumstances shocks the conscience and contributed to a violation of Calvert's right to a fair trial," the appeal states.

Records show the shock was administered to Calvert after the jury had left the courtroom for the day, after Calvert refused the judge's order to stand while speaking. The contentious back-and-forth discussion led a deputy in the courtroom to administer a shock to the belt worn by Calvert. The defendant screamed for about 5 seconds, according to a witness.

Smith County is one of several in Texas who use electric shock devices to control defendants who are determined to be a security risk. The use of the device during Calvert's trial made headlines across the country.

The issue is bubbling up once again due to a decision last month by the Texas Eighth Court of Appeals in El Paso. An appeals judge ruled that judges are not allowed to use the shock belt to penalize defendants for not answering questions, or because the defendant failed to follow rules of decorum in the courtroom.

Calvert is requesting oral arguments, saying there are "substantial issues, the record is exceedingly large, and oral arguments will assist the Court to gain a full understanding of the case."

The Smith County District Attorney's Office was granted a time extension on filing their response to Calvert's appeal. It is expected to be filed on or before May 28.

After that is done, the next move is up to the appeals court.

Source:  KLTV News, March 8, 2018

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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