[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----ILL., WASH., IDAHO, N.C.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Nov 23 13:53:41 CST 2004
Law prof boosts clinical education
Many professors cover the walls of their offices with floor-to-ceiling
bookshelves packed with academic journals and books. But in Larry
Marshall's office at the Law School, the walls are covered by framed
newspaper articles from the Chicago Tribune, a courtroom sketch and a
poster that reads, "74 innocent men sentenced to death row. Come meet
Marshall, a visiting professor at Stanford and director of clinical
education at the Law School, is known for his work at Northwestern Law
School's Center for Wrongful Convictions. His work at that center has
helped exonerate 9 death row inmates on claims of factual innocence and
led to Illinois Gov. George Ryan's decision to commute the death sentences
of 167 men on the state is death row in 2002.
But Marshall did not come to Stanford with the specific goal of starting a
similar center in California, a state that boasts a death-row population
of about 635, the largest in the nation. Nor did the Boston native come to
escape Illinois cold weather.
"I've come to Stanford because it seems to me that Stanford is primed for
a great opportunity to innovate in the area of clinical education in a way
that makes a significant impact on education both here and nationally,"
Clinical education, Marshall explained, began in the 1960s as a way to
integrate the study and practice of law. By offering clinics on topics
like wrongful convictions, law schools give their students the opportunity
to work on actual cases under the close supervision of a professor. This
kind of clinical experience serves 2 pedagogical goals - to help students
integrate academic knowledge into practice and to expose students to
social justice work.
Stanford offers 8 such clinics, ranging from a community law clinic that
works on housing and employment in East Palo Alto to a Supreme Court
litigation clinic. 7 years ago, however, the situation at Stanford was
"Stanford was the only top law school that didn't have a clinical
education program and had a reputation of being less than interested in
public interest law,- said former director of clinical education David
Mills, who took the reigns of the program in 1997.
Both former Law School Dean Kathleen Sullivan and current Dean Larry
Kramer have made building the clinical education program at Stanfords Law
School a priority. Sullivan hired a group of clinical faculty and secured
Marshalls visit so that he could direct a larger program.
"Clinical education is a crucially important part of the education we want
to give our students," Kramer said. "Because it helps them put everything
they are learning in class into a fuller context in practice and it helps
give them a fuller sense of how important law is to people, particularly
Despite the strides Stanford has made to expand its clinical education
program in past years, Mills said the program is still inferior and
under-funded compared to programs at other top law schools.
"We're getting there, but we're still not there," he said.
This is where Marshall wants to make his mark.
"We're hoping that with Larry we will build the best clinical program in
country," said Kramer. "It won't be the biggest, that would go to NYU or
Georgetown, but we hope to have the best quality program and the most
Marshall wants to integrate clinical education into mainstream legal
education so that it becomes a central part of law schools nationwide,
starting at Stanford, as opposed to simply an appendage. He sees the role
of clinical education in law schools as ideally mirroring the residency
component of medical schools. Accordingly, he said his "goal is that every
graduate of law school will have had a substantial clinical experience. It
would be a bold move for Stanford."
Marshalls commitment to clinical education grew out of his experience at
the Center for Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern. As he worked
alongside students to represent innocent men on death row, he watched his
students come to realize firsthand the power that lawyers have to make a
positive difference in the world.
The power of law became increasingly clear to Northwestern graduate Steven
Miller as he worked in Marshall's clinic about 10 years ago. Beginning in
the fall of his freshman year, Miller worked on the case of death-row
inmate Rolando Cruz. An article detailing Cruzs exoneration now hangs on
"Many students come into law school wanting to make a difference, but
become jaded through studying the law," he said. "They begin to acquiesce,
to think they can't fight the system. But when they see the entire state
pitted against one man and then watch that man walk out of prison, they
realize the potential of their power as lawyers."
The importance of learning this lesson, which cannot be found in a law
book, cannot be underestimated, Marshall said.
"For a misperceived sense of impotence is the biggest obstacle to progress
- whether it's in regard to problems in the death penalty or in East Palo
Alto housing projects."
Marshall does not expect all students to go into public interest law after
a clinical experience. But he says he is most proud when former students
call him to say that they are taking up pro bono criminal defense work,
litigation for small community businesses or other public-interest
projects. These students often tell him that such projects are the most
fulfilling parts of their careers, because if they hadnt done the work,
they doubt that anyone else would have taken it up.
"Clinical education is a wonderful medicine for lawyers themselves,"
Marshall said, after remarking that lawyers surveyed as a group
notoriously report low satisfaction with their work. "Clinic experiences
sow the seeds for students to find real fulfillment from the law not just
through intellectual challenges, but through reaching out to help people."
Miller, the Northwestern graduate, agrees that clinical experiences help
make for happy lawyers. His experience working with Marshall motivated him
to become a federal prosecutor so that he could prevent incidences of
prosecutorial misconduct and neglect like those he saw in the Cruz case.
"Although I'm working hundreds more hours as a prosecutor than I did in
private practice, I'm so much happier," Miller said from his prosecutors
office in New York City.
Marshall now appears to be at a potential turning point in his career. The
Law School administration recently invited him to extend his yearlong
visit at Stanford into a full faculty appointment to further develop the
clinical education program. He is deciding whether to stay or to return to
his work in Illinois at the Center for Wrongful Convictions.
As he makes his decision, he is taking a good look at his fingerprints -
no, the police haven't found them at a crime scene.
Fingerprints have a deeper significance for Marshall. He grew up under the
tutelage of a rabbi who often wondered why God gave people distinct
fingerprints. His idea was that "the world is full of flaws and voids that
need to be plugged by different people, by different fingerprints,"
"Our mission, I believe, is to find the distinct role we all play in
leaving our fingerprints," he continued. "It is part of the Jewish idea of
Tikum Olam - to be partners with God in repairing the flaws in the world .
. . it is a prescription for fulfillment in life, for happiness."
We each have 10 fingerprints, however, and for Marshall that means we have
a number of areas in life to make our mark - on our families, communities,
and professions. Marshall is currently assessing whether to keep leaving
his prints on the Illinois death penalty system or to leave new prints in
clinical education here at Stanford.
Sullivan said she is rooting for Stanford.
"If we invented the perfect director of clinical education from scratch,
we could not do better than Larry Marshall," she said. "He is a brilliant
scholar and teacher who also knows how to touch the heart and soul of his
cases. Death row inmates across Illinois have been spared by his tireless
efforts. We hope very much he will stay on our faculty permanently after
his visit this year."
(*source: The Stanford Daily)
Man accused of killing De Moines officer escapes death penalty
In a victory for capital punishment opponents, King County Prosecutor Norm
Maleng agreed this morning to drop the death penalty against Charles
Champion - accused of killing Des Moines Police Officer Steven Underwood
more than 3 years ago - in exchange for a guilty plea.
Charged with aggravated 1st-degree murder in the officer's slaying,
Champion, 22, pleaded guilty this morning to 1st-degree murder with a
deadly weapon. He now faces a likely 34-years in prison.
It's a resolution to a case that has been known primarily for its scores
of delays and postponements and it further generated speculation that King
County has seen one of its last death notices filed by Maleng, who last
year agreed not to seek the death penalty against Green River killer Gary
Ridgway in exchange for his guilty pleas in the deaths of 48 women.
"I'm very, very proud of both the Underwood and Champion families," said
lead defense attorney Jackie Walsh. "Both need to be praised for finding a
Discussion about dropping the death penalty against Champion were said to
begin in earnest about 6 weeks ago.
Defense attorneys have argued since the beginning that prosecutors could
not win a conviction for aggravated murder against Champion because there
was no evidence that he premeditated the murder. An aggravated murder
conviction is the only crime for which a person in this state can be put
Mark Larranaga, the director of the Washington Death Penalty Assistance
Center, which collects statewide data, said he doesn't know if Maleng's
decision "is the end of the death penalty in King County," but since Gary
Ridgway pleaded guilty to avoid a death sentence, there's been a "drastic
reduction" in death notices filed.
Pierce County, where 2 death notices have been filed in recent months,
appears to be the only exception, he said.
Around Washington as a whole, things started to change around 2000,
according to his statistics.
"The trend sure seems to suggest, from the Washington Supreme Court on
down, that they are being incredibly cautious as to whether the death
penalty should be sought, imposed, and upheld," Larranaga said. "The trend
seems to be a sentence other than death is the appropriate sentence."
(source: Seattle Timea)
IDAHO----new death sentence
Jury recommends death sentence for Abdullah murder
An Ada County jury is recommending the death penalty for Azad Abdullah.
The verdict was read aloud in court shortly before noon today.
The jury began its deliberating yesterday in the penalty phase of the
Last week, the same jury found the 27-year-old Boise man guilty of
1st-degree murder in the Oct. 5, 2002, death of his wife Angie.
The jury was able to reach a unanimous decision on two of the 4
aggravating factors in ruling for the death penalty. They only had to come
to consensus on one of those factors to put Abdullah on Idaho's death row.
He will be taken to the maximum security prison south of Boise later
The jury found Abdullah guilty on all six counts against him, including
attempted murder, arson and felony child endangerment. Prosecutors said
Abdullah set his family's home afire to cover up the murder. Four
children, including his 2 sons, were sleeping inside. They managed to
This is the 2nd jury to sentence someone to death in the past month. Under
a new Idaho law, juries, not judges, decide if a defendant should be
executed for 1st-degree murder.
Fourth District Judge Cheri Copsey will sentence Abdullah on the other
This is likely only the beginning of a long round of appeals for Azad
Abdullah. Only one person has been executed in Idaho since the 1960s.
Keith Eugene Wells waived all his appeals and was put to death by lethal
injection in 1994.
(source: KTVB News)
Scheduled execution would be a first for N.C. - Man was convicted of
Greensboro killing in 1995, but no body or physical evidence was found
State officials are preparing to execute a man in December for a killing
in Greensboro in which investigators never found a body or any other
physical evidence of a crime.
The execution, if it goes forward as scheduled on Dec. 3, would be
unprecedented in North Carolina.
A jury convicted the defendant, Charles Anthony Walker, in 1995 largely on
the testimony of his co-defendants, who said that Walker helped them kill
Elmon Tito Davidson Jr. of Greensboro. Walker has said since his arrest
that he is not guilty.
Defense attorneys are asking Gov. Mike Easley for clemency and have a
court hearing next week to pursue other options.
"There is not one person corroborating this other than some snitches, each
of whom got deals," Jonathan Megerian, one of the defense attorneys, said
at a news conference yesterday.
Davidson was last seen on Aug. 11, 1992, according to news reports at the
time and papers filed in the case. No one reported any gunshots fired and
no one reported him missing or dead.
Two days later, on Aug. 13, police officers got an anonymous tip that
there was a dead body in a Dumpster at the Morningside Homes, an apartment
complex in southeast Greensboro, but when officers searched the Dumpster,
they could not find a body.
While working on an unrelated shooting at the same apartment complex,
police officers heard a similar story about a body being thrown into a
Dumpster. They investigated and arrested 5 people, including Walker, for
the killing of Davidson on Aug. 12, 1992.
No physical evidence was found in the apartment where the killing was
reported to have taken place. Defendants said they cleaned the apartment
after beating and shooting Davidson. Police officers ordered a search of
the city dump, where the Dumpster would have been emptied. The city spent
26 days and $37,000 sifting through 10,000 tons of garbage in the 600-acre
landfill, but they still found nothing.
All four of the defendants made plea bargains with prosecutors, and three
of them testified against Walker. Those 3 - Rahshar Darden, Pamela Haizlip
and Antonio Wrenn - have all been released from prison, and the fourth -
Jesse Thompson - is eligible for parole in March 2005, according to the
N.C. Department of Correction.
Richard Rosen, a law professor at the University of North Carolina at
Chapel Hill, said that many states forbid a murder conviction based solely
on the testimony of witnesses who have something to gain.
"If this were Texas, he could not even be convicted. If this were
Virginia, he could not even be convicted," Rosen said. "For those who
support the death penalty, as well as those who are against it, this
should be a matter of great concern."
District Attorney Stuart Albright of Guilford County did not return phone
Defense attorneys say that Walker's case is also different because of his
past. Walker was hospitalized at least twice, beginning at age 10, for
mental illness, including symptoms characteristic of schizophrenia. Both
of his parents were mentally ill, according to papers filed in the case.
In 1982, when he was 17 and living in New York, Walker shot a man in his
apartment building. He pleaded guilty, served 6 years and was recommended
for psychiatric treatment, which he never received.
Walker's attorneys have already met with Easley, though he usually does
not issue a ruling on clemency until the night before an execution. Sherri
Johnson, a spokeswoman for Easley, declined to comment on Walker's
clemency petition yesterday.
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