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Showing posts from June, 2018

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In the Bible Belt, Christmas Isn’t Coming to Death Row

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When it comes to the death penalty, guilt or innocence shouldn’t really matter to Christians.  

NASHVILLE — Until August, Tennessee had not put a prisoner to death in nearly a decade. Last Thursday, it performed its third execution in four months.
This was not a surprising turn of events. In each case, recourse to the courts had been exhausted. In each case Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, declined to intervene, though there were many r…

Ray Tibbetts’ case is exactly what executive clemency is for

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In my more than four decades as a law professor, I have studied issues of fairness in our criminal justice system, particularly in the area of the death penalty. Thus I was struck by a question that a juror who served Ray Tibbetts’ capital trial, Ross Allen Geiger, posed in a letter to Gov. John Kasich:
“Governor, if we are going to have a legal process that can send criminals to death that includes a special phase for mitigation shouldn’t we get it right?”
Mr. Geiger’s question gets to the heart of why Gov. Kasich should exercise his executive clemency powers now to commute Tibbetts’ death sentence to a life sentence with no opportunity for parole.
Mr. Geiger spoke out after coming across mitigating evidence offered to support Tibbetts’ recent request for clemency. The plea for life at trial had been meager, with vague references to a “horrible” childhood and “not very happy” foster homes from a single witness. And the prosecution disputed even this minimal presentation, claiming to …

As Thailand resumes executions, an Australian's fate hangs in the balance

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The ruling that Theerasak Longji be executed was made at 4pm. At 5pm he was allowed to phone his wife, and during their hour on the line he protested his innocence. He didn’t speak to their eight-year-old son.
At 6pm he was given a lethal injection, and he spent his final moments praying in Arabic.
Only then did the prison authorities phone Theerasak's mother.  She was told the family could pick up her son's body.
Theerasak had spent six of his 26 years on death row and on June 18 became the first man executed in Thailand in nearly a decade.
He was barely a man when condemned in 2012 for the murder of a 17-year-old, who was stabbed 24 times, robbed and left for dead. The other attackers were never caught.
The question now for more than 500 convicts on death row, including Australian Antonio Bagnato, is whether this is an aberration or the new normal.
And given the final arbiter in many cases is the king, who has broad power to pardon or commute sentences but whose actions are…

Is Chief Justice Roberts the New Man at the 'Center' for US Supreme Court?

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Chief Justice John Roberts is the Supreme Court's new man in the middle. It's just that the middle may have moved well to the right.
The retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy means Roberts probably will be the conservative justice closest to the court's four liberals, allowing him to control where it comes down in some of its most contentious cases.
Roberts will be the justice who determines "how far they go and how fast they go," said Washington lawyer John Elwood.
Kennedy played a similar role for many years — his votes on gay rights, abortion, the death penalty, the environment, voting rights and affirmative action basically determined the outcome of cases on which the court was divided between liberals and conservatives.
Roberts has typically been to Kennedy's right. He did not endorse a constitutional right to marry for same-sex couples. He dissented when the court struck down Texas abortion clinic restrictions in 2016. The chief justice also was in dis…

Pakistan special court to resume trial in Musharraf’s treason case early next month

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Besides facing a high-profile treason case, Gen. Musharraf has been declared absconder due to his persistent failure to appear before the special trial court.
A three-judge special court formed by Pakistan’s Supreme Court for conducting high treason trial of former military ruler and dictator Pervez Musharraf is set to resume its hearing early next month, a media report said on Saturday.
Gen. Musharraf (74), who has been residing in Dubai since March 2016 after leaving the county on medical grounds, is facing the trail for subverting the Constitution on November 3, 2007.
Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice Yawar Ali, who heads the special court, will stay in Islamabad/Rawalpindi from July 2 to 4 to hear the treason case, ‘The Express Tribune’ reported.
The high treason case was planned to be restarted earlier but one member of the special court was abroad, the report said, quoting sources.
The special court, formed in November 2013 by the Supreme Court on request of the former Pakis…

Iraq Orders Hundreds of Terrorism Convicts Executed After Dead Hostages Found

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Iraq’s prime minister has ordered the immediate execution of all death row terror convicts after militant group Islamic State (ISIS) killed eight hostages.
Haider al-Abadi said the executions would avenge the deaths of the captives, whose bodies were found next to a highway north of Baghdad on Wednesday, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Abadi ordered “the immediate punishment of terrorists condemned to death whose sentences have passed the decisive stage,” the prime minister’s office said. The order relates to all those whose appeal process has been exhausted. AFP cited an Iraqi judicial source who said more than 300 people have been condemned to death for ISIS membership.
Iraq’s criminal justice system is creaking under the weight of tens of thousands of detainees as its forces round up remaining ISIS elements and root out suspected sympathizers. Because Iraqi authorities refuse to provide statistics, it is hard to know exactly how many prisoners are being held or executed.

5 Issues Trump's New Supreme Court Pick Could Confront Including Gun Rights and the Death Penalty

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(WASHINGTON) — Justice Anthony Kennedy’s successor will have a chance over a likely decades-long career to tackle a host of big issues in the law and have a role in shaping the answers to them.
Most court-watchers and interest groups are focused on abortion and whether a more conservative justice may mean more restrictions on abortions get upheld or even whether the 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision affirming a woman’s right to abortion might someday be overturned.
But Kennedy’s replacement will quickly confront a host of issues, some prominent and others not. 
Whomever President Donald Trump chooses, the person is expected to move the court to the right. Conservative groups, seeing a court friendlier to their views, might look at the new court and think it’s time to bring challenges to liberal laws currently on the books. 
And conservative state lawmakers may also attempt to pass legislation testing boundaries they wouldn’t have while Kennedy was on the court.
A look at a few issue…

Barbados death penalty unlawful

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The Caribbean Court of Justice has ruled out the mandatory death sentences on persons convicted of murder in Barbados because such a practice is unconstitutional.
The Trinidad and Tobago based CCJ made this ruling while delivering decisions Wednesday in the consolidated cases of two convicted persons, Jabari Sensimania Nervais and Dwayne Omar Severin, who in their appeals challenged the murder convictions and the constitutionality of the mandatory death sentence for murder in Barbados.
The CCJ, the institution of final jurisdiction for Barbados stated, “a section of the [Barbados] Offences Against the Person Act was unconstitutional because it provided for a mandatory sentence of death.”
The CCJ indicated that both men however had their appeals against their convictions dismissed and it “ordered that the appellants be expeditiously brought before the [Barbados] Supreme Court for resentenci­ng.”
The CCJ stated that before examining the issues raised by the appeal, it “considered the s…

Egypt: Verdicts expected for 739 defendants in grotesque mass death penalty trial

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The mass trial of 739 people, many facing the death penalty on charges related to participation in the al-Rabaa sit-in on 14 August 2013, is a grotesque parody of justice, Amnesty International said ahead of the verdicts expected to be handed down by a Cairo Criminal Court tomorrow.
Among the defendants is journalist and prisoner of conscience Mahmoud Abu Zeid, known as “Shawkan”, detained while working as a photojournalist documenting the protest. Amnesty International is calling for his immediate and unconditional release.
“The idea that more than 700 people could all stand trial together in one day, all facing the death penalty in what is clearly a grossly unfair trial that violates Egypt’s own constitution beggar’s belief,” said Najia Bounaim, Director of Campaign in North Africa at Amnesty International.
“This can only be described as a parody of justice; it casts a dark shadow over the integrity of Egypt’s entire system of justice, and makes a mockery of due process.”
Among the…

Juvenile Offender Executed in Iran

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Iran Human Rights; June 28, 2018: According to Amnesty International sources, Abolfazl Chazani Sharahi, a juvenile offender charged with murder at the age of 15, was executed on Wednesday, June 27 at Qom Central Prison. 
This is the fourth juvenile offender executed in Iran since the beginning of 2018.
Execution of juvenile offenders in Iran continues despite repeated criticism by the international community.
Iran Human Rights calls on the international community, especially European countries, to act in order to stop the execution of juveniles in Iran. Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the spokesperson for IHR, said, “The friendly relations between Iran and European countries must lead to improving the situation of the human rights in Iran. Stopping the execution of juvenile offenders must be a precondition for the friendly relationship between Iran and the European countries.”
Iran Human Rights had earlier reported warned against the possible execution of the juvenile offender Abolfazl Chaz…

USA: 5 facts about the death penalty

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President Donald Trump has voiced his support for the death penalty, and a recent Pew Research Center survey found an uptick in the share of Americans who favor capital punishment for those convicted of murder. 
Over the long term, however, public support for the death penalty has declined significantly, as has the number of executions in the United States.
As the debate over the death penalty continues in the U.S. and worldwide, here are 5 facts about the issue:
The annual number of U.S. executions peaked at 98 in 1999 and has fallen sharply in the years since. In 2017, 23 inmates were executed, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. That's slightly higher than the year before, when 20 people were executed, but still well below the number of inmates annually put to death in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Just 8 states - Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, Texas and Virginia - accounted for all executions in 2017, compared with 20 states in 1999.

In 20…