[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----ILL., KY., ARIZ.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sun Jul 4 18:35:43 CDT 2004
Higher pay for jurors sought by state group
It's been called one of the most patriotic duties an American can perform:
Serving on a jury.
Some groups, however, worry that juries today are no longer really a
cross-section of society. They are concerned that some people -- such as
farmers, owners and employees at small businesses and others who can't
afford to miss work or pay -- aren't represented.
The American Legislative Exchange Council, for example, has been urging
states to enact its proposed "Jury Patriotism Act," which would pay jurors
up to $300 per day for lost wages if they serve on a jury beyond 10 days.
The Illinois Civil Justice League has pushed for similar legislation in
Illinois. The group's president, Ed Murnane, said people who are "actively
involved in the economy" should be fairly represented on juries, but it is
difficult for people at small businesses.
"If you only have four employees, and somebody is pulled from your shop
for even one day, it's a hardship," Murnane said.
He added: "Frankly, we would like to see a much more diverse jury pool,
rather than just the unemployed, retirees, college students or people who
have nothing else to do."
Some companies pay their employees while they're on jury duty, some don't.
The Illinois Senate last year considered a measure that would have paid
jurors up to $500 per day in lost wages, but it was amended to $300 per
day, and then the wage compensation was removed entirely. The money would
have come from a $20 or $10 fee charged when a plaintiff files a lawsuit.
The proposal still had other measures designed to encourage people to
serve on juries, such as making it a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up
to $500 to ignore a jury summons.
The Senate passed the final version, which now is in a House committee.
Murnane said his group is no longer pursuing that version because the
juror compensation was "the guts of that bill."
The group now is pushing for a different version to be introduced that
would include jury compensation and be more in line with the proposed
"Jury Patriotism Act."
Helen Crouse, who is in charge of rounding up potential jurors in Madison
County, said most government agencies and large companies pay their
employees while they're on jury duty.
She said people whose pocketbooks are affected by jury duty include those
at small businesses, those who earn commissions, those who earn bonuses
for production quotas and stay-at-home moms.
"A big problem is day care," Crouse said.
Crouse can see why such people don't want to be on juries, and why they
occasionally go to lengths to avoid getting chosen. One potential juror in
Madison County earned himself a fine for spouting off to lawyers during
jury selection and refusing to remove his sunglasses.
"I've heard everything, from pets being sick to cars breaking down,"
Crouse said. "Their minds aren't on the case they're trying. I understand
Still, Crouse believes the juries chosen in Madison County are
representative of the community.
"I think they are," Crouse said. "We get doctors, dentists...."
Chief Judge Jan Fiss in St. Clair County feels the same way about juries
"It certainly seems to be random," Fiss said. "We get everything, you name
it. We get lawyers, we get judges, we get doctors. We get rich people,
St. Clair and Madison counties typically summon 250 to 300 people to be
Generally, the pools are chosen once every 2 weeks.
In St. Clair County, potential jurors call into a phone system to see if
they need to go to the courthouse for a jury selection. In Madison County,
potential jurors show up for one day, then learn if they'll be needed on a
Officials in both counties estimated that 10 to 20 percent of the people
summoned don't respond to the summons.
Both counties have perhaps a dozen trials per year that last longer than
10 days. However, trials in death-penalty cases and complicated civil
lawsuits where big money is at stake commonly last weeks.
Murnane said lawyers opposed the wage compensation for jurors in Illinois
because of the lawsuit fee they'd have to pay. However, Kevin Conway,
president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, said his group took
no stand on the issue. Conway said groups pushing such measures have their
"These are not democratic people, these are people who want to dominate,"
Conway said. "They want to skew the tables so they have an advantage. They
want an unlevel playing field."
(source: Belleville News-Democrat)
Guilty plea spares killer of girl, 13, death penalty
A 22-year-old Covington man pleaded guilty Friday to raping and killing a
13-year-old Independence girl in April 2003, avoiding a trial and possible
In an off-docket hearing Friday before Kenton Circuit Court Judge Patricia
Summe, Aaron Dishon pleaded guilty to the murder and rape of Tiffany
Farmer in his West Covington apartment on April 27, 2003. Kenton County
prosecutors had said they would seek the death penalty for Dishon, whose
trial was scheduled to begin Aug. 9 in Summe's courtroom.
Farmer's body was found last year stuffed under a bed in the apartment
Dishon kept over his grandparent's home. The 8th-grader, who normally
stayed at her father's home in Independence, that weekend she had been
visiting her mother, who lived down the block from Dishon.
Dishon's sentencing is set for Aug. 2 at 11 a.m. in Kenton Circuit Court
in Covington. He now faces a maximum life sentence with a possibility of
parole in 20 years.
(source: Kentucky Post)
Threats Could Waive Death Row Inmate's Rights
The Arizona Supreme Court has warned a triple-killer on death row that he
may forfeit his right to legal representation if he continues to threaten
his defense lawyers, several of whom have already withdrawn from his case.
The task that Tracy Allen Hampton or any other death-row inmate would face
in pressing appeals of their convictions and death sentences without legal
representation would be near-insurmountable, the Supreme Court said in an
However, "we wish to make it plain that courts will not tolerate threats
to counsel," the Supreme Court said. "Our system of justice cannot
function if dedicated defense counsel face threats of physical violence
for doing their jobs and we will not tolerate such threats."
Hampton was convicted in Maricopa County Superior Court in 2002 of
murdering his two former housemates and of manslaughter in the death of
one former housesmate's unborn child in May 2001.
The Supreme Court's ruling, issued Friday, allowed a second set of defense
lawyers to withdraw from Hampton's defense after reporting that Hampton
had threatened their lives because he objected to what they told them
during a March 25 prison visit.
The request by 2 lawyers of the Maricopa County Public Defender's Office
to withdraw included a letter which court papers said was faxed to the
lawyers by Hampton's sister on his behalf.
The fax, among documents unsealed Friday by the Supreme Court for
potential use by law enforcement, said the attorneys were putting their
lives in danger if they did not withdraw from his case.
"My current living arrangements may confine me but I feel it's only fair
to warn you that I can and will 'reach out and touch' you both," it
The defense lawyers said they took the threat seriously because Hampton is
allegedly a member of white supremacist prison gangs and because known
associates of Hampton are free.
A year earlier, the Legal Advocate's Office withdrew after a deputy
advocate reported being explicitly threatened by Hampton after he
complained about delays.
In Friday's ruling, the Supreme Court ordered that a judge appoint a new
defense team for Hampton but also warned that continued misconduct will
result in an implied waiver of his constitutional right to counsel.
Death row inmates who represent themselves would have to examine case
records, identify legal grounds for appeals and make complex arguments to
the Supreme Court, the court said.
"Without the assistance of counsel, the obstacles to success may well be
insurmountable," Justice Andrew D. Hurwitz wrote.
Hampton was sentenced to death for the murders of Charles Findley, 25, and
Findley's girlfriend, Tanya Ramsdell, 19, and to 12 1/2 years in prison
for manslaughter death of Ramsdell's fetus.
Prosecutors said Hampton shot Findley because Findley identified him to
Department of Public Safety officers trying to serve him with a traffic
They said he then targeted Ramsdell because he believed her unborn child
was fathered by a black man. A court document said an autopsy disproved
(source: Associated Press)
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