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Japan | Trial ruling date for man accused of 1966 murder set for September

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Iwao Hakamada, who in a rare example is being retried over a 1966 murder case, will be given a verdict on Sept. 26, the Shizuoka District Court said Wednesday, which could see him finally acquitted more than five decades after he was sentenced to death by the same court. In the last trial session, prosecutors again sought the death penalty for the 88-year-old, saying there is enough evidence to show that Hakamata is the perpetrator, while defense lawyers argued that he is not guilty.

U.S. Supreme Court to hear Arizona death penalty case that could redefine historic precedent

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments centering on an Arizona death row prisoner that could set new precedent to determining ineffective assistance of counsel. 

A Mohave County Superior Court jury convicted Danny Lee Jones for the 1992 murders of Robert Weaver and his daughter Tisha, as well as the attempted murder of Weaver’s grandmother. A judge sentenced Jones to death for the two murders.

Jones argued that his attorney, a public defender with no capital case experience, was constitutionally ineffective based on what’s known as the Strickland standard.

The standard comes from the 1984 Supreme Court case Strickland v. Washington. It established that a defendant must show their attorney’s performance was deficient, resulting in an unfair trial, to claim their constitutional rights were violated.

In Jones’ case, he alleges the judge and jury did not get to hear all the mitigating evidence that was available.

While Jones’ attorney did present some mitigating evidence, he did not thoroughly investigate or present evidence of Jones’s mental health problems during the trial.

Jones claimed that these failures amounted to an ineffective assistance of counsel claim under Strickland. While the United States District Court of Arizona disagreed and denied Jones’ request for relief, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that ruling and sided with Jones.

The state of Arizona is arguing the 9th Circuit did not give enough deference to the district court ruling, and improperly interpreted the Strickland standard. 

If Jones prevails at the Supreme Court Wednesday, he would face new sentencing hearings in the Mohave County Superior Court.

If the state wins, Arizona could request that the state Supreme Court schedule his execution.  

Both the governor and attorney general have said they would not resume executions in Arizona until an independent commissioner has completed a review of the death penalty process.

The Supreme Court has considered several Arizona death penalty cases in recent years.

Back-to-back rulings in 2023 could result in as many as 30 of the more than 100 people on Arizona's death row having their death sentences reconsidered.

Source: azcentral.com, Jimmy Jenkins, April 16, 2024

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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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