Tagged: death penalty

Numbers Show Decline in the Use of the Death Penalty

Although three US states placed a death- penalty-related question on the ballot in the 2016 election, the overall statistics show another record decline in the imposition of the death penalty.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center’s The Death Penalty in 2016: Year End Report, “the death sentences, executions, and public support for death penalty [are] at historical lows.”

Death sentences peaked in 1996, with 315 death sentences imposed, while in 2016, about 30 death sentences were projected to be imposed as punishment. Looking at the numbers since 1973 (the year when states began re-enacting death penalty statutes), the average decline over the last 10 years is significant, showing more than a 50% decline.

The report also offers interesting facts about individual state practices, for example:

Four states that are responsible for 90% of the executions in the U.S. in 2016—Georgia (9), Texas (7), Florida (1), and Missouri (1)—have also carried out more than 85% of the country’s 83 executions over the past three years (Texas (27), Missouri (17), Georgia (16), and Florida (11)). 80% of all executions in the U.S. in 2016 took place in either Georgia or Texas.

Lastly, the report documents changes in public support for the death penalty, with a steady decline in support of the death penalty in favor of life without parole.

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Supreme Court Remands Case for Re-sentencing on Batson Violation

On May 23, 206, the Supreme Court decided Foster v. Chatman, No. 14-8349 (U.S. 2016), a thirty-year old death penalty case raising Batson claims of racial selection of the trial jury. The court remanded the case, presumably for a new trial. You can read an analysis by Professor Bennett Gershman in his latest titled How Prosecutors Get Rid of Black Jurors

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Today in the U.S. Supreme Court….

Today, the US Supreme Court is considering a question of

whether the constitution is violated if the chief judge on the highest court of the state refuses to disqualify himself in a death penalty appeal where he was the chief prosecutor who authorized the defendant’s death sentence, obtained the death sentence though his office’s misconduct, and campaigned for the judgeship by showing how many people he put on death row, including the defendant.

Interestingly, amici included many judges, including the late Judge Judith Kaye, who argued that the judge should have recused himself, and a group of professional responsibility law school professors on the same side.

Prof. Bennett Gershman analyzes the issues and implications of Williams v. Pennsylvania in his latest HuffPost article titled A Perfect Storm: Judicial Prosecutorial Misconduct, and a Death Sentence and outlines the various issues involved in this case.  The ultimate question is not only whether the judge should have disqualified himself when deciding the defendant’s death penalty appeal but also whether, if he didn’t, his bias on the panel decision was nothing more than a harmless error. As Prof. Gershman concludes that

…without Justice Scalia, a 4-4 split on the Supreme Court is possible. And if that is the result, then under the Supreme Court’s rules the decision of the Pennsylvania supreme Court would be affirmed – and Terrence Williams will be executed.

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REMINDER: Event – Prof. Gershman Stars as Clarence Darrow

Clarence Darrow performancePace Law School and the Pace Criminal Justice Society present Clarence Darrow starring Professor Bennett Gershman. Please join us for this once in a lifetime event and note that there will be only two performances! Suggested donation is $15 and all proceeds will benefit the Equal Justice Initiative. Don’t miss it and come and join us!

WHEN:
FRIDAY April 24, 2015 at 7:30 pm
SATURDAY April 25, 2015 at 2:00 pm

WHERE:
The Moot Court Room at Pace University School of Law, 78 North Broadway, White Plains, NY

Clarence Darrow (April 18, 1857 – March 13, 1938) was born in Ohio and attended the Allegheny College and University of Michigan Law School. He began his career as a corporate lawyer, moved on to labor law, and at the end of his legal career he was a criminal attorney defending, among others, Leopold and Loeb in Chicago presenting a defense that the two accused boys were mentally disabled and should not be sentenced to death, John T. Scopes in Tennessee who was accused of teaching evolution theory in violation of the Butler Act, Ossian Sweet in Michigan, articulating and highlighting racial prejudice throughout the trial of Mr. Ossian Sweet who was charged with murdering a white male while defending his home, or the Massie Trial in Hawaii presenting an honor killing defense in a case where two defendants were charged with murdering Joseph Kahahawai – a man who was accused of raping and beating Ms. Thalia Massie but who was believed to have escaped justice because of hung jury.

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Event: Professor Bennett Gershman Stars as Clarence Darrow

Clarence Darrow performancePace Law School and the Pace Criminal Justice Society present Clarence Darrow starring Professor Bennett Gershman. Please join us for this once in a lifetime event and note that there will be only two performances! Suggested donation is $15 and all proceeds will benefit the Equal Justice Initiative. Don’t miss it and come and join us!

WHEN:
FRIDAY April 24, 2015 at 7:30 pm
SATURDAY April 25, 2015 at 2:00 pm

WHERE:
The Moot Court Room at Pace University School of Law, 78 North Broadway, White Plains, NY

Clarence Darrow (April 18, 1857 – March 13, 1938) was born in Ohio and attended the Allegheny College and University of Michigan Law School. He began his career as a corporate lawyer, moved on to labor law, and at the end of his legal career he was a criminal attorney defending, among others, Leopold and Loeb in Chicago presenting a defense that the two accused boys were mentally disabled and should not be sentenced to death, John T. Scopes in Tennessee who was accused of teaching evolution theory in violation of the Butler Act, Ossian Sweet in Michigan, articulating and highlighting racial prejudice throughout the trial of Mr. Ossian Sweet who was charged with murdering a white male while defending his home, or the Massie Trial in Hawaii presenting an honor killing defense in a case where two defendants were charged with murdering Joseph Kahahawai – a man who was accused of raping and beating Ms. Thalia Massie but who was believed to have escaped justice because of hung jury.

Related Readings: