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Showing posts from March, 2021

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USA | Biden needs to act on growing anti-death penalty sentiments

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The flattening of public discourse — political, social, moral and ethical — into a simplistic left-right binary is a disturbing trend that too few of us push back against. People are encouraged to live in their echo chambers through news outlets tailored to confirm their worldviews and social media feeds custom-designed to reinforce their biases. This polarized discourse has created a false narrative around the death penalty that relies on simplistic and overgeneralized notions of our country’s partisan divide. It is a narrative that, while easy to communicate, ignores the diversity of voices expressing serious concerns about how the death penalty operates in America. For instance, the authors of this op-ed belie that simplicity. One of us is a former Democratic U.S. senator from Wisconsin, a state that has not had the death penalty since 1853, and who has worked tirelessly throughout his public life to end the death penalty. The other is the former Republican-appointed United States a

USA | Derek Chauvin trial: First footage shown of George Floyd inside shop

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A court has been examining CCTV footage of George Floyd taken shortly before his death, as the murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin enters its third day. The footage provides the first glimpse of Mr Floyd's actions inside a grocery store, where he is alleged to have used a counterfeit $20 note. Shop employee Christopher Martin is the latest witness to take the stand. Mr Floyd's death in May sparked global protest about racism and policing. Mr Chauvin was filmed pressing his knee on Mr Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes before he died. The 45-year-old denies charges of murder and manslaughter. Defence lawyers have indicated they will argue that 46-year-old Mr Floyd died of an overdose. RELATED | The last 30 minutes of George Floyd's life RELATED |  The man accused of killing George Floyd RELATED |  The jurors who will decide Derek Chauvin's fate Christopher Martin, 19, told the court on Wednesday he briefly interacted with Mr Floyd as a customer i

USA | How Capital Defenders Helped End Virginia’s Death Penalty

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Virginia’s capital defenders have “worked themselves out of a job,” according to David Johnson, executive director of the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission. The commonwealth’s four capital defense offices, which opened in 2002, are credited with bringing about a dramatic decline in death sentences. That decline was a major factor in Virginia becoming the first southern state to abolish the death penalty. “The playing field was leveled, and with a level playing field, the death penalty was going away,” Johnson said. “It just changed everything.” While the effect of high-quality representation in capital trials has long been known anecdotally, recent research has provided the data to support that understanding. A 2019 article by Duke Law Professor Brandon Garrett found that the provision of capital trial representation was more closely correlated with a decline in death sentences than other factors, including state adoption of life without parole sentencing, changes in homicide rates,

Charleston church shooting | Dylann Roof to appeal death sentence

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Dylann Roof murdered 9 members of congregation in 2015. Roof told his attorneys that he would seek appeals to drag his case out as long as he possibly could because he expected white supremacists to take over the United States, and subsequently pardon him for the massacre and declare him governor of South Carolina. Attorneys for the man sentenced to federal death row for the racist slayings of nine members of a Black South Carolina congregation are set to formally argue that his conviction and death sentence should be overturned. Oral arguments have been set for May 25 before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Dylann Roof, according to federal court records. In 2017, Roof became the first person in the U.S. sentenced to death for a federal hate crime after he opened fire during the closing prayer of a 2015 Bible study session at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. Serving as his own attorney in the sentencing phase of his trial, the self-avowed white supremacist

EU set to sanction more Iranian individuals for rights abuses, first since 2013, diplomats say

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BRUSSELS/PARIS (Reuters) - The European Union is set to agree to sanction several Iranian individuals on Wednesday for human rights abuses, the first such measures since 2013, three EU diplomats said. EU envoys are expected to agree to impose travel bans and asset freezes on the individuals, the diplomats said, and their names would be published next week, when the sanctions take effect.  They gave no further details. The European Union declined to comment. Like the United States, the European Union has an array of sanctions over human rights since 2011 on more than 80 Iranian individuals which has been renewed annually every April. Those will also be renewed on Wednesday, the three diplomats said. Asked why the latest measures were being taken now, one of the diplomats said the EU was seeking to take a tougher stance to uphold human rights.  This month, the EU sanctioned 11 people from countries including China, North Korea, Libya and Russia. “Those responsible for serious rights viol

North Carolina Bar Suspends License of Lawyer Who Defrauded Death-Row Exonerees

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The North Carolina state bar has suspended the law license of a lawyer whose predatory representation of 2 intellectually disabled death-row exonerees defrauded them of hundreds of thousands of dollars. After a multi-day disciplinary hearing beginning March 15, 2021, a 3-member panel of the North Carolina State Bar Disciplinary Hearing Commission suspended Patrick Megaro’s license to practice law in the state for 5 years. The panel also ordered Megaro to repay half-brothers Henry McCollum and Leon Brown $250,000 in fees he had charged them in connection with their application for compensation for their wrongful convictions for the 1983 rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl. The men — whose IQs in the 50s place them in the bottom third of a percent of the population in intellectual functioning — were sentenced to death after falsely confessing to the murder during hours of coercive police interrogations conducted without counsel or their parents being present. McCollum was 19 years old

Iran Report: At least 267 People Executed in 2020 Despite COVID-19 Pandemic

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Iran Human Rights; March 30, 2021: The 13th annual report on the death penalty by Iran Human Rights (IHR) and ECPM (Together Against the Death Penalty), shows that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Islamic Republic continued carrying out executions as in the previous years, and remains the only country to have executed juvenile offenders in 2020.   The death penalty was also used to suppress protesters, ethnic minorities, and journalists. On the other hand, we witnessed mass online campaigns of millions of Iranians expressing their opposition to the death penalty and the dramatic increase in the number of families of murder victims choosing diya (blood money) or forgiveness over execution.  IHR Director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam said: “The Iranian authorities’ use of the death penalty is to spread fear among the people in order to hold onto power. But protests in recent years have shown that not only are people losing their sense of fear but they are also uniting in their anger against

Nevada | Perspective of the death penalty by a prison doctor

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This opinion column was submitted by Karen Gedney, MD, former senior physician for the Nevada Department of Corrections. I never thought about the death penalty until I was asked to write for the drugs to execute ‘Bud’ Thompson in 1989. I had only been a prison doctor for the Nevada Department of Corrections for two years. I was informed it was my "job," and they were not pleased when I told them I would not do it. Not only did I think it morally wrong for a doctor to take part in killing someone, the stories that my German mother told me about the Nazis and "just following orders" ran through my mind. Some of you might not know that there is a bill, AB 395 , going before the legislature to abolish the death penalty and retroactively reduce existing death sentences to life without parole. It has been said that the more you know about the death penalty, the more you want it to be abolished. Did you know that Nevada has the second highest number of inmates on death ro

India | 4, including victim’s parents, get death sentence for honour killing in Jharkhand after speedy trial

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A district court in Jharkhand has awarded death sentence to 4 people in an honour-killing case. The district court in Jharkhand’s Koderma on Thursday awarded death sentence to four people convicted in an honour-killing case.  The four convicts include the victim’s parents and her uncle and aunt. The sentence was pronounced by the court of Additional District Judge Ramashankar Singh. The incident took place on August 25, 2018 in Madangundi area under Chandwara police station of Koderma district. The victim, Soni Kumari, 20, was killed by her family after she said she wanted to marry a man from another caste.  The victim’s family was against the inter-caste marriage and killed her by throttling her. The convicts then tried to get rid of evidence against them by setting the Soni’s body on fire.  However, their attempt was thwarted by the timely arrival of police. The cops were successful in dousing the fire and the victim’s body was sent for post-mortem. After a speedy trial, the Koderma

Indiana | Serial killer Joseph Duncan dies on death row

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Joseph E. Duncan III, the notorious serial killer responsible for the brutal slayings of a Coeur d’Alene family, died while awaiting execution, prosecutors in California said in a statement Sunday. Duncan died Sunday at a hospital near the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, according to the statement from the Office of the District Attorney for Riverside County. He was 58. One of Duncan’s victims, 10-year-old Anthony Martinez, was a resident of the county. “The sun is brighter today, and my soul is lighter,” Anthony’s mother, Diana, said in the statement. “The world is a more beautiful place without the evil that is Joseph Duncan. God chose to make his end a long suffering and I believe that is fitting. The horror of his thoughts consumed him.” In 2005, Duncan killed Brenda Groene, her boyfriend Marke McKenzie and her 13-year-old son, Slade, in their home near Coeur d’Alene. Duncan also kidnapped 2 of Groene’s other children, Shasta, then 8, and Dylan, 9. After abducting the 2 chi

Nevada | Clark County seeks execution warrant for a Death Row inmate

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — As lawmakers weigh the future of capital punishment in Nevada, Clark County prosecutors plan to seek a warrant of execution for a death row inmate. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, deputies from District Attorney Steve Wolfson’s appellate division could ask a judge to sign the paperwork for Zane Floyd in the coming weeks. The 45-year-old Floyd was convicted of killing four people and wounding another inside a Las Vegas supermarket in June 1999. The Review-Journal reports Floyd’s federal appeals were exhausted last November after the U.S. Supreme Court denied his request for a review of a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that upheld his conviction and sentence. RELATED |  Battle over drugs for Nevada execution ends with no decision Under state law, the Nevada Department of Corrections must carry out Floyd’s lethal injection no less than 60 days and no more than 90 days after a judge signs a death warrant. However, a bill introduced in the state Assembly