[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----USA, N.J., N.C., PENN.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Sep 11 12:28:05 CDT 2004
Sessions blocks funds for labs, murder defense
Sen. Jeff Sessions almost single-handedly stopped progress on a bill this
week that would have funneled millions of dollars to state crime labs so
they could process rape kits and DNA evidence more quickly.
The bill also proposed spending $25 million over 5 years to help states
pay the costs of DNA testing for death row inmates who see the tests as a
chance for exoneration. Another $100 million in federal grants under the
measure would have gone to states that have made sure death-penalty
defendants have access to competent legal representation.
Sessions opposed paying the money to what he described as "left-wing
"This bill would take $100 million in federal taxpayer funds and give it
to anti-death penalty groups for the defense of murderers and terrorists,"
Sessions, R-Mobile, also criticized the bill's focus on DNA testing.
"Only 5 % of scientific analyses are for DNA," he said. "Some states have
no DNA backlog. This is a political bill that should be killed as dead as
a door nail."
The Alabama senator, with Sens. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and John Cornyn,
R-Texas, raised objections that effectively halted work on the bill in the
Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. With just a few weeks left in this
session of Congress, there's little chance the bill will be approved, even
though a similar bill has passed the House.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., a sponsor of the bill, said there are enough
votes to pass it in the Senate, assuming its opponents allow it to move
through the Judiciary Committee.
"Delaying this bill for yet another year may not seem like a long time to
some on Capitol Hill," Leahy said. "But ask the innocent person sitting on
death row what even another day of waiting is like."
(source: Montgomery Advertiser)
Study: Bush Judges Most Conservative on Rights
A study of thousands of federal court cases has found thatjudges appointed
by President Bush are the most conservative on record in the areas of
civil rights and civil liberties.
The study's authors say the re-election of Bush would give U.S. courts a
strong rightward tilt that could last for years.
"If Bush wins re-election you're going to have a very conservative
judiciary," University of Houston political scientist Robert Carp said on
Thursday. "An average president puts in about 1/3 of the federal judiciary
in 2 terms, so this really is a watershed year in terms of what happens."
Carp along with Kenneth Manning of the University of
Massachusetts-Dartmouth and Ronald Stidham from Appalachian State
University looked at federal court decisions in the Federal Supplement's
database of 70,000 cases and categorized them as "liberal" or
"conservative" based on case content.
They found that Republican appointees issued liberal rulings in about a
1/3 of their cases while Democrats did so 45 % to 50 % of the time.
But in civil rights and civil liberties cases -- abortion, gay rights,
freedom of speech, right to privacy, race relations, for example -- Bush
judges made liberal decisions only 26.5 % of the time.
That was well below 37.9 % for appointees of Richard Nixon, 32.3 % for
Ronald Reagan and 32.2 % for George H.W. Bush, all fellow Republican
Appointees of Democrats Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton gave
liberal rulings, respectively, 58.1 %, 51.3 % and 42 % of the time in the
same types of cases.
"George W. Bush is the most conservative president that we have data for,"
Karp said. "In civil rights and liberties cases, his judges were 25 % more
conservative than those of other Republicans."
When Bush became president in January 2001, following 2 terms in office by
Democrat Clinton, 51 % of federal judges were Democratic appointees versus
49 % Republican.
On average, Carp said, presidents get to name about 17 % of the federal
judiciary during a 4-year term. Sometimes the number is higher -- Reagan
named about 50 % of the judges during his 8 years in office, and the study
said his "impact on the judicial branch continues to be substantial."
The study was published in Judicature, the publication of the American
Judicature Society, a nonpartisan organization of judges, lawyers and
others involved in justice administration.
Kelaher has agenda to pursue -- Ocean County prosecutor named president of
state organization of prosecutors
The death penalty...(is) among the several issues Thomas F. Kelaher plans
to address in the upcoming year.
Kelaher, the Ocean County Prosecutor, was sworn in yesterday as the new
president of the County Prosecutors Association of New Jersey during the
association's annual convention in Atlantic City.
Before last night's ceremony, Kelaher, Ocean County Prosecutor since
January 2002, talked about the association's agenda and some of the major
issues he intends to tackle in the coming year.
Kelaher spoke mainly about the death penalty in New Jersey, especially in
the wake of a new penalty phase for convicted killer Robert O. Marshall,
whose death sentence was overturned on appeal earlier this year.
While Kelaher supports the death penalty, he noted it has not been used
since it was reinstated in New Jersey in 1982, and said it is time to
start rethinking its use in the criminal justice system.
"If the death penalty hasn't been used in 20 years, society should ask if
it should be continued," Kelaher said. "It was supposed to act as a
deterrent. If it hasn't been used in 20 years, you really can't say it's a
Kelaher also expressed concern about a recent number of high-profile cases
in which men have been sent to death rows around the country only to be
freed after DNA tests proved their innocence. In addition, the appeals
that typically come with a death-penalty conviction are costly.
Kelaher, a 1960 graduate of Seton Hall University Law School, takes the
helm of the association from Burlington County Prosecutor Robert D.
Bernardi. Before being appointed to the five-year prosecutor's post,
Kelaher worked in the state Attorney General's office and had his own
private law practice. He has also served as chairman of the Community
Medical Center's board of trustees.
(source: Asbury Park Press)
Execution Scheduled For Charles Wesley Roache
North Carolina's third execution of the year has been scheduled for Oct.
22 for Charles Wesley Roache, who was condemned for the 1999 slayings of
Mitzi and Katie Phillips in Haywood County.
Correction officials said Friday the execution by injection was scheduled
for 2 a.m. at Central Prison in Raleigh.
The 30-year-old Roache also received life sentences without parole for the
murders of Earl Phillips, Cora Owens Phillips and Eddie Lewis Phillips. An
additional sentence of life imprisonment was imposed in Alexander County
Superior Court for the murder of Chad Watt.
Roache was convicted of 5 counts of 1st-degree murder in April 2001 for
the September 1999 slayings of the Phillips' family.
(source: Associated Press)
Rendell signs execution warrant
Gov. Ed Rendell signed a death warrant Friday for a man convicted of a
1996 murder in South Philadelphia.
Lamont Overby, 30, of Philadelphia, was scheduled to die by lethal
injection Nov. 9.
Overby was sentenced in the death of John James Jr., 19, who was shot 5
times in what prosecutors believed was a robbery.
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the case in June.
Rendell has signed 23 death warrants in less than 2 years in office. Since
1995, Pennsylvania governors have signed a total of 290 execution
warrants, and 225 people were on death row as of Sept. 1. 3 executions
have been carried out, most recently in July 1999.
(source: Associated Press)
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