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Pope Declares Death Penalty Inadmissible in All Cases

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ROME — Pope Francis has declared the death penalty inadmissible in all cases because it is “an attack” on the “dignity of the person,” the Vatican announced on Thursday, in a definitive shift in Roman Catholic teaching that could put enormous pressure on lawmakers and politicians around the world.
Francis, who has spoken out against capital punishment before — including in 2015 in an address to Congress — added the change to the Catechism, the collection of beliefs for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
The revision says the church would work “with determination” for the abolition of capital punishment worldwide.
“I think this will be a big deal for the future of the death penalty in the world,” said John Thavis, a Vatican expert and author. “People who work with prisoners on death row will be thrilled, and I think this will become a banner social justice issue for the church,” he added.
Sergio D’Elia, the secretary of Hands Off Cain, an association that works to abolish capital puni…

Supreme Court rules that a lawyer can’t overrule client’s wish to maintain innocence

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The Supreme court ruled on Monday that a lawyer representing a criminal defendant can’t go against his client’s wish to assert his innocence, even if the attorney is trying to prevent a death penalty ruling.

The justices voted 6-3 in favor of Roy McCoy, a Louisiana death row inmate.

McCoy insisted he was innocent but his attorney, Larry English, went against McCoy’s wishes and told the jury during the trial’s guilt phase that McCoy was guilty of murder but didn’t deserve the death penalty because of his mental state.

Nonetheless, the jury found McCoy guilty and returned a death verdict.

On Monday, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who issued the opinion of the court, said that McCoy must be given a new trial.

“The Sixth Amendment guarantees a defendant the right to choose the objective of his defense and to insist that his counsel refrain from admitting guilt, even when counsel’s experienced-based view is that confessing guilt offers the defendant the best chance to avoid the death penalty,” Ginsburg wrote.

Justice Samuel Alito filed a dissenting opinion, which Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch joined, arguing that English had admitted that McCoy had killed the victims but never admitted that “the petitioner was guilty of first-degree murder.

“English strenuously argued that petitioner was not guilty of first-degree murder because he lacked the intent required for the offense,” Alito wrote. “So the Court’s newly discovered fundamental right simply does not apply to the real facts of this case.”

Source: The Hill, Luis Sanchez, May 14, 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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