[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----VA., ILL., CALIF., USA
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Oct 17 02:14:14 CDT 2007
Killer Emmett's latest appeal denied----Death row inmate asks court, Kaine
Unless the U.S. Supreme Court grants a stay or Gov. Timothy M. Kaine steps
in a 2nd time, Christopher Scott Emmett will die by lethal injection
Emmett won a reprieve in June two hours before he was to be executed when
Kaine delayed it until Oct. 17 to give the U.S. Supreme Court a chance to
consider hearing his appeal. The justices declined.
However, on Sept. 25, the high court agreed to hear challenges to the
constitutionality of lethal-injection procedures in Kentucky, procedures
similar to those used in Virginia and other states that use lethal
There was an execution in Texas on Sept. 25 but none in the U.S. since.
Yesterday, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Emmett's request
for a stay. But another federal appeals court stayed an execution set for
today in Arkansas. And an execution scheduled for last night in Nevada was
halted by the Nevada Supreme Court 90 minutes before it was to take place,
according to The Associated Press.
Emmett's lawyers are asking the U.S. Supreme Court and Kaine to stop the
execution until the high court rules on whether lethal injection
constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.
In papers filed yesterday, the Virginia attorney general's office urged
the justices to reject the request for a stay, arguing it was
foot-dragging. Emmett, the state says, never challenged his method of
execution during his trial or in prior appeals.
Kevin Hall, a Kaine spokesman, said yesterday that "we're closely
monitoring court activity, and the governor is still weighing the updated
clemency requests from Emmett's attorneys."
Emmett was sentenced to die for the April 2001 slaying of John F. Langley,
43, of Roanoke Rapids, N.C. The 2 men worked for a roofing company in
Roanoke Rapids and were staying in a Danville motel during a project.
Emmett beat Langley to death with a brass lamp for drug money.
In addition to asking Kaine for a reprieve, Emmett's lawyers also asked
him to order an administrative review of the state's current
lethal-injection protocol. Kaine opposes capital punishment but has said
he believes lethal injection is constitutional.
Richard Dieter, director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said he
believes condemned inmates seeking reprieves until the Supreme Court rules
will be successful.
If executed, Emmett would be the 99th person put to death in Virginia --
70 by lethal injection -- since capital punishment was allowed to resume
(source: Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Federal appeals court denies stay of Va. killer facing execution
A federal appeals court today denied a request to stay the execution of a
man scheduled to be put to death Wednesday for killing a coworker in 2001.
Attorneys for 36-year-old Christopher Scott Emmett subsequently filed a
request to the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the execution. The high court is
reviewing whether the lethal injection method most states use is cruel and
unusual, based on a challenge from 2 inmates on death row in Kentucky.
The court is not expected to hear that case until early next year.
Emmett's attorney Matthew Engle says no court should go forward with the
execution until the Supreme Court has had a chance to rule on the
constitutionality of the 3-drug protocol.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court declined to review Emmett's case.
Barring intervention from the Supreme Court or Governor Tim Kaine, Emmett
is set to die Wednesday night at the Greensville Correctional Facility in
Governor should delay Emmett's execution
Continuing to kill inmates by lethal injection while the method is in
question would be inhumane.
With judicial review of the constitutionality of lethal injection looming,
there should be no rush to put Christopher Scott Emmett to death.
Emmett, who beat a sleeping co-worker to death with a lamp 6 years ago in
a Danville motel, is the only 1 of 20 inmates on Virginia's death row with
a scheduled execution date -- Wednesday at 9 p.m.
But the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to consider whether the method of
lethal injection used by Virginia and many other states violates the
constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Emmett's attorneys
have asked Gov. Tim Kaine to delay the execution until the Supreme Court
makes its decision.
The clock is ticking. Kaine should grant the delay and stop all other
state executions until the high court rules.
A court ruling likely won't be made until next year, possibly as late as
the summer. Proceeding with state executions when the legality of lethal
injections is in question would be inhumane.
Emmett's attorneys have attempted to bolster their request for a delay
with a claim that the state bungled last year's execution of John Yancey
Attorneys argue that Schmitt lingered too long in pain and agony when he
was put to death by lethal injection, a claim disputed by the state.
But, if true, it would substantiate the argument that death by a
3-chemical cocktail -- one that puts the inmate into a deep sleep,
followed by a second that stops breathing by paralyzing the diaphragm and
lungs, and a final chemical that induces cardiac arrest -- is cruel and
The concern is that the drug that puts prisoners to sleep wears off before
the drug that kills them takes effect, while the paralytic disguises any
outward sign of the extreme pain they would feel.
Even before the Supreme Court decided it would use the case of 2 Kentucky
death row inmates to examine the constitutionality of lethal injection, 11
states suspended executions because of concerns about the method's
Since the court's announcement, executions have been put on hold in 2
Virginia should join that list. To continue lethally injecting inmates now
would be cruel and unusual.
(source: Editorial, Roanoke Times)
Retrial granted in '80s killing----Defendant says cops coerced him into
A Chicago man who says he was coerced 2 decades ago into confessing to 2
murders by detectives working under former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge
was granted a new trial Monday.
Cook County Circuit Judge Thomas Sumner vacated the 1984 conviction of
James Andrews, 45, and ordered that he be retried for the 1983 murders of
2 men whom Andrews allegedly robbed and shot to death. In August, Sumner
ruled that Andrews' constitutional rights were violated and that his
claims of police brutality were worth further review.
Andrews was picked up by police in April 1983 and taken to Area 2
detective division on the South Side for questioning in connection with a
dogfight, according to court documents.
After 90 minutes of questioning about the dogfight, detectives asked
Andrews if he knew murder victims Floyd Jenkins and Keith Lewis, according
to his petition for post-conviction relief. Although Andrews continuously
denied knowing the victims or anything about their murders, the detectives
physically and psychologically abused him, the petition said.
They punched him, struck him with a heavy-duty flashlight and chained him
to a wall, according to the statement. After 12 to 18 hours, Andrews
signed two written confessions. According to a previous order by Sumner,
those confessions are the only significant corroborating evidence tying
him to the murders.
Andrews' statements were made to officers now known to have tortured
suspects. After a four-year probe, special prosecutors determined in July
2006 that Chicago police officers led by Burge brutally forced confessions
out of suspects through the 1970s and 1980s. There are other allegations
of abuse against the same detectives who interrogated Andrews, according
to Sumner's order.
Andrews was ordered held in lieu of $300,000 bail. Defense lawyers
exercised Andrews' right to a speedy trial, requesting that the attorney
general's office be prepared to go to trial within 120 days. Andrews has
another court date scheduled for Oct. 22.
The attorney general's office handles all Burge post-conviction cases
since a judge ruled that the state's attorney's office led by Richard
Devine had a conflict of interest. Mayor Richard Daley was the state's
attorney and Devine his first assistant during the period of the
allegations against Burge.
"If ever there was a time to have a speedy trial it's now," said Derek
Witte, one of Andrews' attorneys. "The clock is ticking."
After the judge's ruling, Andrews turned toward his family and let loose a
smile that seemed to cover his entire face. His 3 sisters wept.
One sister, Joan Alford, said she wasn't sure that the family was going to
be able to come up with the bail money but that they would rely on each
other, as they have throughout Andrews' legal battle. Still, the idea that
her brother could soon breathe fresh air for the first time in 24 years
had Alford visibly moved.
"This is a glorious day. It is another day closer to him coming home to
the family," Alford said. "He has always believed, but I just wondered if
we would ever see the day of justice."
Another Andrews attorney, Scott Schutte, said his client "has his head
held high" and sees Monday's ruling as one more step toward vindication.
"To him, this has been a long process but he is a man of great faith,"
Schutte said. "He believes that things will be made right, in this life or
(source: Chicago Tribune)
Men May Face Death Penalty In Businessman's Slaying
2 men accused of gunning down a North County businessman may face the
death penalty in connection with the case.
Jonathan Johnson, 21, of Vista, and Dominic Porter, 22, allegedly shot
Kenya Hunt, 34, to death in March of this year.
The 2 are charged with first-degree murder, and prosecutors on Tuesday
filed special circumstance allegations. Those allegations would give San
Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis the option of seeking the
death penalty if Johnson and Porter are found guilty.
Prosecutors filed the murder-for-financial-gain and lying-in-wait
allegations on Tuesday before a preliminary hearing in the case began.
The allegations of murder for financial gain and lying in wait were filed
just before a preliminary hearing got under way for Dominic Jerome Porter
and Jonathan Johnson.
Hunt owned a moving company and was an Oceanside resident. Hunt was shot
and killed in front of his home Thursday morning by 2 masked men in the
4600 block of Lofty Grove, police said.
Hunt was shot in front of his home in the 4600 block of Lofty Grove Way on
Johnson and Porter were located after the shootings inside a nearby
convenience store, according to investigators.
Johnson is being held on $5 million bail, while Porter's bail has been set
San Quentin death row delay is vetoed
Assemblyman Jared Huffman's attempt to delay long-planned construction of
a new death row at San Quentin State Prison was vetoed late Sunday night
by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Huffman, a San Rafael Democrat, said Monday
that the Legislature is still moving forward with its study into possible
alternatives to the state's plan to build a $337 million maximum-security
complex at the west end of the 432-acre prison.
In his veto message, Schwarzenegger said Huffman's bill, Assembly Bill
1743, would amount to wasting $20 million that already has been spent
developing the project that was studied and approved by lawmakers in 2003.
Huffman's bill did not call for the closing of San Quentin, the state's
oldest prison, or moving executions to other prisons. But it did call for
delaying construction until after the state studied possible alternatives,
among them relocating death row to other prisons where the cost of running
the top-security inmate housing might be cheaper.
Huffman's bill would have required the state to examine sites at San
Quentin other than the 40 acres at the west end of the prison, where the
new death row is planned. Moving the site would free that acreage for
non-prison purposes, such as a transit hub, workforce housing and medical
care. Huffman's bill was one of the 72 the governor vetoed on Sunday, his
final day to act on 2007 legislation approved by lawmakers.
Huffman said that at about 11 p.m. Sunday, he had a glimmer of hope that
Schwarzenegger might sign his bill because it hadn't already been vetoed.
"I got my hopes up," he said. Then, he saw it listed at the end of 72
bills the governor vetoed just before his midnight deadline.
Schwarzenegger said that by delaying the construction of housing and
treatment facilities for condemned inmates Huffman's bill would drive up
the cost of the project. He noted lawmakers had already concluded that San
Quentin "is the most appropriate place to house the condemned inmates."
"Every month this project is delayed results in approximately $1 million
of increased construction costs because of inflation pressures," the
governor wrote. "Further delaying the project will only exacerbate this
Huffman's bill came on the heels of a recommendation by the state
Legislative Analyst's Office that the project be abandoned and built
elsewhere at a lower cost per bed.
That advice from the state's independent budget watchdog emphasized that
the project's cost had grown to $337 million, a 53 % increase from its
original price tag, even after it was reduced in size to 768 cells.
San Quentin has 622 inmates on death row, housed in maximum-security
housing designed to hold 554 inmates.
Huffman, state Sen. Carole Migden and Marin Supervisor Steve Kinsey worked
together to draft the bill.
Kinsey has pushed for closing San Quentin, a 155-year-old institution, in
hopes of freeing up land for transit-oriented development.
Huffman said a Legislature-sponsored study already is under way and is
scheduled to be finished by the end of May 2008.
He said he doubts the state can break ground before then. The Legislature,
he noted, still needs to approve funding to close a $116.5 million budget
gap for the project.
(source: Marin Independent Journal)
Governor vetoes bills opposed by law enforcement
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed legislation for the second straight
year that would have required tape-recording police interrogations, a
measure recommended by a commission formed to examine the causes of
The governor also rejected bills that would have allowed testimony by a
jailhouse informant only if another witness corroborated it, and would
have established a task force to write guidelines for police at lineups
and photo identifications.
All three bills were recommended by the California Commission on the Fair
Administration of Justice, which the state Senate created in 2004 to look
into cases in which innocent people have been imprisoned and propose
safeguards. The 23 commission members include prosecutors, defense
lawyers, police representatives and scholars.
Organizations representing police chiefs and sheriffs opposed all three
bills. A district attorneys association opposed the measure on jailhouse
informant testimony and was neutral on the other 2.
The vetoes, which Schwarzenegger issued over the weekend, demonstrate
"once again the power of California's law enforcement agencies to block
needed justice reform," former Attorney General John Van de Kamp, chairman
of the commission, said Monday.
All three measures, he said, were "modest bills which were based on the
best science and the best practices available." He said they had been
drafted to satisfy concerns Schwarzenegger expressed when he vetoed
earlier versions of the interrogation and lineup bills last year.
The governor said in his latest veto messages that the bills were not
needed and would unduly restrict police investigations. Representatives of
police groups and prosecutors were unavailable for comment.
The interrogation measure, SB511 by Sen. Elaine Alquist, D-Santa Clara,
would have required officers to record interrogations of suspects in
police stations or jails in cases involving violent felonies.
A study by Van de Kamp's commission found that suspects often confess to
crimes they don't commit and that tape-recording would help jurors
evaluate a defendant's claim of a false or coerced confession. The
commission said many law enforcement agencies already tape a majority of
their interrogations and that courts in six other states have required the
Schwarzenegger said the bill would "deny law enforcement the flexibility
necessary to interrogate suspects." He did not say how recording would
have that effect, and the commission's executive assistant, Chris Boscia,
said he was puzzled by the governor's statement.
Another vetoed measure, SB609 by Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, would
have barred testimony by a jailhouse informant unless another witness
Romero and other supporters said wrongful convictions in numerous cases,
including some death penalty cases outside California, have been traced to
false testimony by jailhouse witnesses seeking lenient treatment. But
Schwarzenegger said the measure was not needed because prosecutors rarely
use informants as witnesses.
"When that kind of testimony is necessary, current criminal procedures
provide adequate safeguards against misuse," he said in his veto message.
The third bill, SB756 by Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas, D-Los Angeles, addressed
what the commission described as a recurring problem of mistaken
identifications by eyewitnesses at lineups and photo displays of suspects.
The panel said such mistakes are often prompted by subtle hints from
The measure would have required the attorney general to set up a task
force to consider voluntary guidelines for police, including the
commission's proposal that lineups be supervised by officers who are
unaware of a suspect's identity.
Schwarzenegger said police departments must be free to develop their own
policies, based on "unique local conditions," and that statewide
guidelines would only get in the way.
(source: San Francisco Chronicle)
Listen to the executioners before you opt for executions
A FEW weeks ago, I talked to a man called Ron McAndrew. He spoke about the
death penalty, but from quite a different perspective than either Kevin
Rudd or John Howard.
You see, McAndrew had served as the warden of Florida State Prison. He'd
actually executed people - and it had changed his life forever.
In a slow, sad voice, McAndrew described what it was like sending a man to
the electric chair.
"When we turned on the electricity to kill this guy," he said, "flames
shot out from under the helmet. We burned his head - badly. There was
steam going down the side of his face, coming out of his eyes and his nose
burned as well. It was horrifying. The chamber filled up with smoke. We
could hardly see each other . . . but you could still smell the burning
The man McAndrew killed that day was called Pedro Medina. A court had
found Medina guilty of what McAndrew described as "a vicious crime" - he'd
stabbed a teacher to death. Medina might not have been a Bali bomber, but
he was by no means a nice man.
Of course, few of the people on death row are. By and large, the people
McAndrew dealt with were the wretched of the earth: men who were, at best,
pathetic; at worst, genuinely terrifying.
Which is why Rudd's stance on capital punishment makes no sense.
If you don't speak out against the execution of unpleasant people, you'll
almost never speak out on capital punishment at all. If terrorists don't
deserve mercy, what about, say, a Ted Bundy, a man who tortured and
murdered about 30 people for no reason other than his own gratification?
What about a Gary Gilmore, a multiple killer who actually campaigned to be
put to death?
Yet it was through such cases - the execution of men guilty of grotesque
crimes - that capital punishment returned to the US.
But, in the current debate, McAndrew's experience with Medina matters for
It's too easy to discuss the death penalty on a plane of lofty
abstraction, far removed from the messy business of actually killing a
man. The history of capital punishment in the modern era involves a search
for a method of execution compatible with contemporary notions of justice
- something clean, sterile and dignified. But the closer you look, the
more impossible that seems.
The elaborate tortures of the Middle Ages gave way to the simple British
gallows. The noose often meant slow strangulation or involuntary
decapitation, and Americans turned to the electric chair, which was
supposed to make turning off a life as simple as turning on a switch.
Except, as McAndrew discovered, it doesn't.
Today, most American states use lethal injection: a method that, as Ronald
Reagan explained, was just like putting an animal to sleep.
McAndrew had also conducted executions by lethal injections - and he'd
found it no less grotesque.
For a start, he explained, many prisoners were drug abusers, so that
getting a needle into their ruined veins was very difficult.
"They don't have any veins," he said. "Their veins are flat. So in order
to get an IV you've got to do what's called a cut-down, cutting through
their arms to get a vein. And you've got to get 2 IVs in - one in each
"This last guy they executed up there, it took them 34 minutes. And, you
know, he could still move his head on the table. He's looking all around
and he's asking them - and I've spoken to some of the guys involved in
this - he's asking them, 'What the hell is going on? Give me a shot - do
something to stop the pain'."
Even when the process went smoothly, it was still traumatic for the prison
"You know," he said, "when the person has been executed and you tell the
witnesses that they've been pronounced dead, you close the curtain. They
don't see anything else. But you've got to stay there. You've got the
body. You've got to take the apparatus off them. You've got to pull the
needles out of their arm. You've got to stuff the body into a body bag."
He didn't know anyone who'd been involved in the death penalty who didn't
later regret it.
Should it matter to Rudd what the death penalty does to executioners?
Let's put it like this: if the execution of even the wickedest man still
traumatises the people who carry it out, what about the society that
(source : The Age ( Australia)
Lethal injections: cruel and unusual?
A majority decision by 9 United States Supreme Court judges will decide
the ultimate fate of murderers Ralph Baze and Thomas Bowling
In his compelling new book on the United States Supreme Court, The Nine
(Doubleday, $27.95), Jeffrey Toobin quotes the question Justice William
Brennan used to ask his law clerks in the 1960s: "What is the most
important law at the Supreme Court? The clerks would puzzle over the
answer. Was it freedom of speech or due process or equal protection?
Justice Brennan would enlighten them: "The law of 5. With 5 votes, you can
do anything around here." Opponents of the death penalty will be hoping
that 5 votes out of nine justices can be found to establish that the death
penalty implemented by lethal injection is a breach of the constitutional
prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.
Ralph Baze and Thomas Bowling were convicted of murder in Kentucky. Baze
shot a sheriff and a deputy sheriff who were trying to serve him with a
warrant. Bowling shot a husband and wife as they sat in their car. Like 37
of the 38 states that maintain capital punishment, Kentucky uses lethal
injections. Only Nebraska still uses the electric chair.
Baze and Bowling contend, based on the evidence presented at a hearing
before the Kentucky Circuit Court, that the use of sodium thiopental,
pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride causes substantial pain and
that there are other chemicals that would kill but cause less suffering.
The Kentucky Supreme Court rejected the argument because the Constitution
does not provide protection against all pain, only cruel and unusual
punishment." Since there was nothing cruel and unusual about the Kentucky
method, there was no legal obligation to use drugs that would cause less
pain to the offender.
Last month the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. That required the
approval of only four judges. They were no doubt influenced not only by
the strength of the arguments advanced on behalf of the applicants as to
the pain and suffering that they would incur, but also that a variety of
tests have been articulated by state and federal courts as to the
principles to be applied.
UK lawyers attempt to stop American execution
Lawyers from Clifford Chance are attempting to stop Jack Alderman being
put to death in Georgia on Friday
The Supreme Court has only once before directly ruled on the
constitutionality of a method of execution, in 1878, when it upheld the
use of a firing squad. The court there accepted that some means of putting
criminals to death would be legally objectionable. However heinous the
crime, the criminal could not be "embowelled alive, beheaded and
quartered" or subjected to "burning alive." In 1890, the court added,
"burning at the stake, crucifixion, breaking on the wheel, or the like,"
would offend constitutional standards. So United States law does not adopt
the approach of the Duchess of Malfi in John Webster's play. When asked if
the means by which she is to be executed (strangulation) terrifies her,
she replies, "Not a whit: / What would it pleasure me, to have my throat
cut / With diamonds? or to be smothered / With cassia? or to be shot to
death, with pearls?."
The applicants' petition to the Supreme Court refers to a number of recent
cases where lethal injections caused substantial pain to the death row
prisoner, physical and mental. In 2006, in Ohio, the procedure took so
long about 2 hours that the condemned inmate had to go to the lavatory
while he was waiting to die. Also last year, in Florida, an execution took
34 minutes while the inmate grimaced in pain throughout.
The Supreme Court does not have a distinguished record in protecting death
penalty prisoners from pain and suffering. In a notorious case in 1947,
the electric chair failed to operate "presumably because of some
mechanical difficulty," and the intended victim was taken back to his
cell. The court held that it was not cruel and unusual to return him to
the execution chamber for a 2nd attempt some months later.
As Toobin's book suggests, the fundamental problem facing Baze and Bowling
when their case is argued next year is that 4 of the justices are most
unlikely to decide in their favour. Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Scalia,
Justice Thomas and Justice Alito each adopts, to varying degrees, a narrow
view of constitutional rights, a broad concept of state discretion and a
hostility to death row offenders who bring repeated legal challenges to
postpone their fate. The applicants will need to persuade all 5 of the
remaining Justices: Stevens, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer. Anthony
Kennedy, the most conservative of that group, may well decide the case.
Of course, opponents of capital punishment are primarily concerned with
ensuring its abolition, not its speedy and painless implementation. But as
Albert Camus observed in his Reflections on the Guillotine, if capital
punishment is not to be abolished, let us at least "begin by reforming the
manner of administering it. The science that serves to kill so many could
at least serve to kill decently." The author is a practising barrister at
Blackstone Chambers in the Temple and a Fellow of All Souls College,
More information about the DeathPenalty