[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----GA., VA., KY., ILL.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Feb 23 17:41:42 CST 2005
March 1, 2005
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Stephen Mobley, a 35-year old white male, is scheduled to be executed by
the state of Georgia March 1 for the 1991 murder of John Collins in Hall
Mobley's first trial resulted in a mistrial; his second trial resulted in
a serious error during the punishment phase.
In the punishment phase of Mobley's second trial, Georgia Superior Court
Judge Andrew Fuller was brought to testify for the prosecution on Mobley's
character. Among other things, Fuller commented on Mobley's lack of
remorse and the financial cost of his trial to taxpayers. "I've handled
many cases with heinous facts of a killing, but I have never, never seen a
defendant like Mr. Mobley," Judge Fuller said. The Georgia Supreme Court
ruled that, while these comments were inappropriate, they did not rise to
the level of constitutional error.
However, at least one Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court dissented in
the affirming of Mobley's death sentence. In his strongly-worded dissent,
Justice Hunstein noted, "[His testimony] constituted a recital in
testimonial form of the essence of the State's closing argument, replete
with the imprimatur of the judicial branch." Justice Hunstein wrote that
a jury should not be exposed to the fundamentally unfair testimony of
Judge Fuller and that such testimony should reverse the death sentence of
Mobley was scheduled to be executed in August 2002, but his execution was
delayed by a federal appeals court to allow for the U.S. Supreme Court to
rule on anther case involving the rules for when defendants are permitted
to bring new evidence before a judge.
Mobley's case is remarkable for the fact that so many courts have chosen
to completely overlook the constitutional error in his case and instead
focus on the egregious nature of the crime. All defendants, no matter the
crime, should receive a fair trial with lawyers and judges working to
ensure a fair result.
Please contact the state of Georgia and ask for further review and a
reversal of Mobley's death sentence.
Perhaps early as today, the Virginia Senate will take up an important
reform to the commonwealth's system for reviewing criminal convictions.
The bill, already approved by the House of Delegates, responds to an
ongoing threat to constitutional rights in Virginia: the large number of
defendants who effectively lose their chance to appeal because their
attorneys miss filing deadlines.
Unlike most states, Virginia has rules that offer little opportunity for
second chances, even when a defendant is blameless. Yet the Virginia
attorney general's office has opposed the bill, calling it unnecessary.
And in a Senate committee hearing on Monday, a representative of the
state's Supreme Court raised concerns as well, arguing that a high court
decision late last year fixed the problem. In fact, the court's decision
did not solve the problem. The Senate, however, can begin to do so by
sending this much-needed legal change to Gov. Mark R. Warner (D), who
supports the measure, for his signature.
Hundreds of convicts a year are losing their right to appeal their
convictions or sentences because of attorneys' mistakes over which they
have no control.
The bill is a modest effort at repair. It would not grant any convicts the
ability to file an appeal to which they should not already be entitled. It
would not relax the rules that cause the courts to dismiss appeals when a
document is filed even one day late. But for those inmates now being
irrationally denied the chance to appeal, it would make it easier and less
costly to remedy what everyone -- the attorney general and the courts
included -- concedes is a denial of their constitutional rights. Given the
magnitude of the problem, passing this bill should not be a difficult
(source: Editorial, Washington Post)
Study of death penalty costs tucked into House budget
Since Kentucky reinstated the capital punishment in 1976, 2 men have been
executed, 36 people are now on Death Row and numerous others who were once
under death sentences have had their convictions or sentences overturned
in the courts.
Ernie Lewis, director of the Department of Public Advocacy and charged
with providing legal defense for the condemned, guesses it has cost
taxpayers perhaps $50 million for each of those executions. Death
sentences have been overturned more than half the time, he added.
"We're not doing it very well," Lewis said.
Evidence about Kentucky and the death penalty has been anecdotal at best.
Rep. Jim Wayne may have finally found a way to get the answers to the
questions about capital punishment that he has long pondered.
"The goal, from my point of view is to confirm it's cheaper to put them in
prison without parole for life than it is for the death penalty," Wayne
said in an interview this week.
In the House version of the state budget that emerged near midnight last
Friday, Wayne tucked in a provision that would require the General
Assembly to examine the cost of the death penalty since it was reinstated.
The topics would include the costs of prosecution, defense, judicial and
correctional, the directive says. The estimate should include all cases in
which the death sentence could have been imposed as well as those where it
Kentucky's only 2 executions since the death penalty was reinstated took
place in 1997, when Harold McQueen was electrocuted, and 1999, when Eddie
Lee Harper was given a lethal injection.
Both methods of execution are under court attack by two other condemned
inmates as cruel and unusual punishment. 2 inmates have been on death row
for 25 years and the latest death sentence was in 2004. There is 1 female
under a death sentence.
A spokeswoman said the Corrections Department has never calculated the
costs of housing a death row inmate or any inmate with a life sentence.
Ed Monahan, director of the Catholic Conference of Kentucky and a former
public defender, said there seems to be blind support for capital
punishment from some sectors without any factual basis.
"We would like to see a good study to see how much of Kentucky's limited
resources are spent on a death penalty that produces very little," said
Monahan, whose organization opposes capital punishment.
The provision must remain intact through the Senate and Gov. Ernie
Fletcher's consideration in order for the study to take place. The Senate
has approved death penalty studies before. A spokeswoman for Fletcher said
it would be premature to comment on the provision until it emerges from
(source: Associated Press)
Prosecutors: Death penalty not to be pursued in double slaying
In Belleville, St. Clair County prosecutors say they don't plan to seek
the death penalty against a man accused of killing a 24-year-old mother
and her young daughter.
Prosecutors filed court papers yesterday saying that if 44-year-old Donald
Hollis of Dupo is convicted of 2 counts of 1st-degree murder, they plan to
push for a life sentence.
Hollis is accused of killing Amanda Johnson and her 4-year-old daughter
Alyssa Hargrove in December.
He's jailed in Belleville on 5 (m) million dollars bond.
(source: KWQC TV News)
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