[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS, ALA., GA., OHIO
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Sep 24 17:00:42 CDT 2007
Convict in slaying 21 years ago set to die Tuesday
Michael Richard had 5 felony convictions and had been freed from his 2nd
prison term for only 2 months when he walked up to the home of a
53-year-old nurse and mother of 7 to inquire whether a van parked outside
was for sale.
It wasn't, but Marguerite Lucille Dixon invited him inside her home in
Hockley, for a drink of water on the hot August day. When Richard left, he
saw 2 of Dixon's kids leave right after him. He returned to the house,
pulled a gun on the woman, sexually assaulted and fatally shot her, and
took 2 televisions as he left in the van, evidence at his trial showed.
Then he went to Houston, about 30 miles to the southeast, and gave the
.25-caliber pistol to a friend and swapped the TVs for some cocaine.
On Tuesday, Richard, 49, is set to die in Huntsville for the 1986 slaying.
He'd be the 26th inmate executed this year in the nation's most active
death penalty state and the 1st of 2 set to die this week.
"I didn't kill that woman," Richard insisted last week from a tiny
visiting cage outside death row near Livingston. "I'm to the point now,
ain't nothing I can do. Crying ain't going to stop nothing. Being mad
ain't going to stop nothing. Being scared ain't going to stop nothing."
His lawyers argued Richard is mentally retarded and not eligible for
lethal injection under a U.S. Supreme Court order barring execution of
mentally retarded people. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday
rejected an appeal that urged the court to stop the scheduled punishment
and reconsider similar appeals that had been turned down earlier.
"There's a lot of things I don't know and understand," said Richard, who
said he learned to read and write a little since coming to death row 20
years ago. "They have been messing over me all these years, so it's
Two of Dixon's children returned to the home that August day and found a
sliding glass door open and the house dark and ransacked. They sought the
help of a neighbor and came back to find their mother's body in her bed
and covered with paper and clothing. A fingerprint on the glass door led
police to Richard, who confessed the shooting was an accident.
Lee Coffee, who prosecuted Richard in 1987, said he offered Richard a deal
for a guilty plea in exchange for a life prison sentence but it was
"His comment to me was the death penalty in Texas is the last high, that
it would be the ultimate high to give him a bunch of drugs and put him to
sleep," Coffee, now a judge in Memphis, Tenn., said last week.
>From death row, Richard said he signed a confession he couldn't read.
"They say I confessed, but I didn't write any of that," he said. "The cops
Richard was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death in 1987.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals threw out his conviction in 1992
because jurors improperly were not allowed to consider evidence that as a
child Richard had been abused. In 1995, a 2nd jury convicted him again and
again sentenced him to die.
At least 1 psychological assessment of Richard 2 years ago put his IQ at
64, well under the 70 considered the threshold of retardation. In March,
the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed a judge's finding that
Richard was not mentally retarded and his execution date was set for
"I have prayed every day that I would live long enough to see that man
die," Mary Chance, 79, Dixon's sister, told the Houston Chronicle.
Lynn Hardaway, a Harris County district attorney contesting his appeals,
said evidence showed Richard took police to where he left the gun, which
was matched to the bullet in his victim. In prison, she said, Richard has
been able to exchange letters with supporters in Europe, play chess, read
books from the prison library and learn to type. The former auto mechanic
showed an ability to adapt and function even if his test results were
poor, she said.
"It's not unusual for these guys to not do well on the tests because they
have no incentive to do well," she said.
Richard, known on death row as "Louisiana Red," first went to prison in
1978 with a 6-year term for burglary. He was paroled about 3 years later,
then returned to prison in 1985 with a 5-year sentence for theft and
forgery. He was released on mandatory supervision after 17 months. Dixon's
slaying occurred 8 weeks later.
"I did things in my life I deserve to be locked up for," he said. "But I
didn't kill anybody."
On Thursday, a Dallas man, Carlton Turner, 28, is set to die for killing
his parents in 1998.
(source: Associated Press)
DA must seek justice
Editor's note: The following is a statement from the Alabama District
Attorneys Association regarding the actions of Attorney General Troy King
in the Shelby County murder case. 41 of the state's 42 district attorneys
approved the statement.
District attorneys across Alabama have been put in a most unfortunate,
unenviable and unusual position. The state's prosecutors have been forced
to not only defend from the scathing verbal attack by the attorney general
the most laudable actions of one of our own, but in reality to defend the
historic and ethical role of the district attorney itself -- to seek
Regretfully, the unnecessary attack was overwhelmingly personal, and
appears intended to cause the people of Alabama to question the
competency, professionalism and judgment of one of our state's most
experienced elected prosecutors. The recent testimony of District Attorney
Robby Owens of Shelby County epitomizes the fairness and courage that
should be demonstrated when a district attorney is faced with the daunting
task of making a decision concerning the most important and undeniably the
most controversial issue within our criminal justice system -- the fair
and equal application of the death penalty.
In the summer of 1996, a most brutal and senseless double homicide
occurred at a pawnshop in Shelby County. Sadly, both the owner of the
shop, as well as a female employee, were executed by a 16-year-old
suspect. A wealth of evidence, including a videotape from a camera
surveillance system at the store, clearly proved this juvenile was the
actual killer of the innocent victims.
While the 16-year-old served as the triggerman, an accomplice in the
crime, an 18-year-old, unquestionably participated fully in the horrendous
robbery/murders as well. After an exhaustive and successful investigation
by law enforcement authorities, District Attorney Owens personally
prosecuted both suspects, seeking the death penalty for each. Separate
juries returned recommendations of death for both and the sentencing judge
found death to be appropriate sentences.
In 2004, the Supreme Court of the United States, in a separate case,
considered the constitutionality of the execution of any person who was
less than 18 at the time of his crime. In making his argument in favor of
retaining the right to execute juveniles, Attorney General King, through
other members of his staff, referred to the Shelby County cases, asserting
that to allow the 16-year-old killer to get a "free pass," while the
18-year-old accomplice is executed, would indeed be a "bizarre result."
The attorney general illustrated to our nation's highest court the
inequity in the killer receiving a lesser sentence than his accomplice.
However, the Supreme Court, contrary to the attorney general's and the
Alabama District Attorneys Association's desires, found the execution of
those who committed their capital crimes while juveniles unconstitutional.
Thus, from the date of the decision forward, no capital murder defendant
who was a juvenile could be sentenced to death for his crime. Similarly,
the ruling dictated that all persons then on the states' death rows who
were juvenile age at the time of their crimes should be resentenced to
terms of life.
Consequently, the triggerman in the Shelby County double homicide was
brought back into court and resentenced to life in prison without the
possibility of parole. Thus, the "bizarre result" referred to by Attorney
General King became a probability -- the 18-year-old accomplice who did
not kill the victims would be executed while the actual killer, the
triggerman, would be spared.
As in all capital cases, after the sentence was handed down in both of
these cases, the responsibility for responding to any appeal attempts by
the defendants, as well as any post-conviction motions, fell to the office
of the attorney general. At a hearing on post-trial motions filed by the
accomplice, District Attorney Owens testified that he fully supported the
attorney general in his previous efforts to keep the juvenile killer on
death row, but that "out of plain fairness and simple equity in life, it's
not fair to leave the person on death row who didn't kill anyone and take
the person off death row who did."
When asked, in hindsight, if he had known before prosecuting the
accomplice that the actual killer would not face the death penalty, he
would have sought a death sentence for the accomplice, he replied that he
would not have done so. In finding that trial attorneys for the accomplice
had failed to provide effective legal assistance at the sentence hearing,
and because the imposition of the death penalty on the accomplice under
these set of facts, and not the triggerman, was "arbitrary,
disproportionate and fundamentally unfair", the trial judge granted the
accomplice a new sentence hearing.
In response, the attorney general took the unprecedented step to
shamefully chastise a district attorney of impeccable reputation for doing
that which has been historically and ethically required and expected of
district attorneys -- that is, do nothing unless it be just.
The sole interest of the prosecution in a criminal case, concisely and
best described in 1935 by Justice Sutherland in Berger v. United States,
"is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done." The
Comment to Rule 3.8 of the Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct, Special
Responsibilities of a Prosecutor, states: "A prosecutor has the
responsibility of a minister of justice and not simply that of an
And the National Prosecution Standards published by the National District
Attorneys Association mandates the primary responsibility "of prosecution
is to see that justice is done." How then could an elected district
attorney, a public servant with nearly three decades of unblemished
prosecutorial experience, and sworn to uphold the constitutions of his
state and country, be criticized by his attorney general for trying to
ensure that similarly situated defendants are treated similarly?
The actions of the attorney general were punitive, vindictive, and his
conduct embarrassing. The removal of the district attorney from almost
every aspect of this case had already been accomplished by the natural
legal process. Because the case was already on appeal, the attorney
general had assumed responsibility for the prosecution when he informed
District Attorney Owens on Sept. 10 that he was assuming all future duties
with regard to the prosecution of the accomplice.
The taking of the case from a local district attorney is within the legal
powers of the attorney general. But instead of simply advising the
district attorney of his intentions, he issued a scathing press release
stating the district attorney had "acted on the side of the criminal" and
that Owens' testimony regarding concerns that fairness and equity should
not be compromised was "incredible and outrageous." He asserted publicly
that he "would perform the duty which the district attorney has shirked."
In actuality, District Attorney Owens was performing the very function
that was then, and is now, expected of Alabama district attorneys. He was
representing the people of the state of Alabama, using his years of
experience and his moral conscience to see that the ultimate penalty was
not being applied unfairly.
The continuing philosophical struggle and debate concerning the imposition
of the death penalty in this country is testament to the importance of the
issue. For those of us then who believe the use of the death penalty in
certain limited circumstances is appropriate and warranted, we must be
vigilant to ensure the vast discretion granted to the district attorney in
deciding its appropriateness in particular situations is unquestioned. It
is then incumbent on the district attorney, after exhaustive reflection on
the existing facts and parties involved in the case, to be convinced of
the fairness of its application to a particular defendant.
The district attorney has been chosen, entrusted if you will, by his or
her constituents to make such determinations. These are gut-wrenching,
mind-numbing decisions to make. If the district attorney cannot in good
conscience be convinced that the death penalty is the appropriate sentence
to pursue, he should certainly pause before trying to convince a jury and
judge of what he cannot himself accept. He must in all such endeavors seek
Yet, it is for this act of mental valor that the attorney general has seen
fit to wrongfully lash out at this respected district attorney who has
been prosecuting criminals most of his adult life. This attorney general,
not having one time stood in the pit, in front of a jury and judge, in the
presence of a victim's and defendant's family members, in front of his
God, to ask that a life be taken, now feels qualified to declare that a
prosecutor who has done so many, many times has now "shirked" his
responsibility and is in league with the murderer himself.
To publicly assert that District Attorney Owens was in any way deficient
in his responsibilities to his constituents and the victims' families is
unfair, disingenuous and, quite frankly, sickening.
The victims' families in these cases have suffered beyond words. The
members of this association, as we do with all victims' families in every
judicial circuit, sympathize with them and offer them any assistance we
can in the legal arena. And we hope these family members and friends
realize how fortunate they are to have had Robby Owens in their corner as
their district attorney when these thugs committed their evil acts.
In all likelihood, these family members and friends firmly believe that
both defendants are deserving of the death penalty for what they have
done. And this association believes that both of these defendants are
deserving of the death penalty.
Robby Owens thought so, too. But Robby Owens believes that both means
exactly that and nothing less, and that if the pitiless actual executioner
of John Burleson and Janice Littleton is precluded from receiving his just
sentence, then both should receive the same sentence -- sentences in the
penitentiary which ensure they will never be free again.
The attorney general, whatever his motivations in choosing to disparage
the good name and character of Robby Owens, should apologize to his
learned colleague and learn something from him about making hard decisions
and effective public service. If he cannot recognize the error of his
needless attack on the district attorney, perhaps he should consider his
fitness for the position he now holds.
Tomorrow: Attorney General King responds.
(source: Guest Column, Montgomery Advertiser)
Where cases diverge----At far ends of spectrum, one DA has no qualms
seeking death. The other avoids it.
J. Tom Morgan, in 11 years as DeKalb County district attorney, locked up
dozens of murderers who raped, tortured or maimed their victims. But he
never sent one to death row.
A 2-hour drive southeast in Middle Georgia, Ocmulgee District Attorney
Fred Bright won seven death sentences in roughly the same period more
than any Georgia prosecutor.
The two men stand on either side of Georgia's death penalty divide, an
analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows.
>From 1995 through 2004, Bright sought death in 21 of 31 murders in which
he could under the law and tried 12 capital cases.
Morgan, on the other hand, never took a capital case to trial if he could
avoid it. He filed notices to seek death at a rate slightly below the
state average, but he offered the killers a plea deal every time.
Of those 25 killers, 15 were sentenced to life without parole during the
10 years analyzed by the newspaper. "I was always thankful when they took
life without parole," Morgan said.
A DeKalb jury last voted for a death sentence in 1989.
Morgan, who left office in 2004, is one of several Georgia prosecutors who
routinely agreed to lesser sentences for crimes that would have gone to a
death-sentencing trial in circuits such as Bright's.
District attorneys in Georgia have the sole discretion to choose when to
pursue a death sentence. The law specifies how they may do so, but
prosecutors then must rely on their own judgment.
Each weighs key factors differently: Was the crime brutal? How strong is
the evidence? How old is the defendant? They also consider the time
required for the death penalty, which requires months or even years of
additional pretrial hearings, as well as a separate sentencing trial. The
preparation can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
More often than not, even when death is sought, the case ends in a plea
bargain. District attorneys also know that, with few exceptions, a
defendant can only get life without parole if they file a notice of intent
to seek death. Their subjective judgments can lead to vastly disparate
decisions in prosecuting killers.
"Where the system has its greatest vulnerability is that it's in the hands
of 49 individuals who are using their set of values," said Bob Keller,
former Clayton County district attorney.
Some district attorneys see that as a virtue. Gwinnett's Danny Porter does
not believe sentences must be uniform between circuits. Voters, he said,
choose a district attorney who represents their values.
"In a lot of ways, the elected officials are a reflection of their
community, and that's probably the way it should be," he said.
In pursuit of justice
Bright believes similar types of murders should result in similar
sentences. He knows he cannot set standards for the entire state, but he
tries to establish consistency in his eight-county circuit.
"In death penalty cases, more than any other case, it is critical that the
defendants are treated the same if they commit the same crime," Bright
That, Bright said, is why he almost always pursues the death penalty in
certain cases, such as killing a police officer or two or more victims.
In 1994, Joshua Daniel Bishop beat Leverett Morrison, 43, to death and
stole his car. During the investigation, Bishop confessed that he had
murdered another man 2 weeks earlier.
Bishop was charged but never tried for that crime, but Bright told the
jury about it during the sentencing phase of the trial for Morrison's
murder. The jury sentenced Bishop to death. "I sent Bishop to death row
because he killed two people," Bright said.
For years, juries in the Ocmulgee Circuit have favored death sentences.
Joe Briley, Bright's predecessor, sent more than a dozen people to death
row, earning the nickname, "Death Row Joe." Most of those sentences were
overturned on appeal.
Bright, unlike other DAs, said he would not let a defendant's youth stop
him from seeking death. Five of the seven men he has sent to death row
were 18 the minimum legal age for execution or 19 at the time of their
While he gives a victim's family input, he said he could envision pursuing
the death penalty in a heinous crime even if they were opposed.
Otherwise, he said, "What you'd be saying to the defendant is, 'It's the
luck of the draw.' "
In contrast to other prosecutors, he said he has never met a family who
disagreed when he had decided to seek the death penalty.
Bright also said he never asks a jury to impose a sentence he could not
"I don't argue deterrence," he said. "I just argue justice, that this
crime merits the death penalty, demands the death penalty, that the only
justice is the death penalty."
Wrestling with death
Morgan will not say that he opposes capital punishment.
But life without parole, he contends, is better for a victim's family and
for society. It saves "years and years and years of uncertainty," he said,
about when or if the killer will be executed and saves taxpayers the cost
of lengthy appeals.
Morgan approached the death penalty understanding that he had to enforce
the law but struggling with its moral implications.
"Should the state be in the business of executing people for whatever
reason?" he said. "I always wrestle with that."
If he believed the death penalty deterred crime, Morgan said he would have
been more comfortable with imposing it.
"It doesn't deter crime," Morgan said. "It only deters crime for that
individual, and we can lock him up for life, without parole."
Only four defendants rejected Morgan's offer of a plea deal instead of a
death trial. Each decided to take a chance with a jury, and three wound up
with life without parole.
In one of those four cases, Morgan took the unusual step of dropping the
death penalty after the killer was found guilty. Robert Lewis Rush Jr. had
carjacked Tamileo Kinte Odister, a college freshman, stolen his shoes and
shot him in the head.
Rush, like Bishop in the Ocmulgee circuit, had been charged but not
convicted of a second murder the shooting of Carolyn Thomas, 43, in her
Fulton County flower shop. But before the DeKalb jury that convicted Rush
could consider a possible death sentence, Morgan offered a deal for life
without parole. Odister's mother helped persuade him.
"I didn't want no more killing," Bettina Odister-Allen told the
Journal-Constitution in 1999.
Tom Clegg, Morgan's former assistant, said he believes DeKalb prosecutors
offered plea bargains even in heinous murder cases because jurors there
have been reluctant to give a death sentence.
"They're better-educated, more forgiving and not as pro-law-and-order as
jurors in other parts of the state," said Clegg, now a criminal defense
That rationale led DeKalb to offer plea bargains to some of the county's
worst killers, such as Razsan Jefferson, whose 2000 slaying of Jamie
Patrice Mulligan, 20, was "probably the worst single case I've seen in
DeKalb," Clegg said.
Jefferson robbed Mulligan and locked her in the trunk of her car.
Mulligan, a college student, was still alive when it was set on fire.
Prosecutors offered life without parole, Clegg said, because they thought
a DeKalb jury would be unlikely to sentence Jefferson to death and because
he showed remorse.
Morgan also allowed murderers who killed several people to plead guilty
for life without parole a deal that Bright said would be highly unlikely
in his circuit.
Andre Jerome Idlett, for example, killed his girlfriend, her lover and her
3-year-old daughter. He pleaded guilty in exchange for life without
Sentencing disparities also occur in rural court circuits where district
attorneys are often perceived as tougher on crime, the
Journal-Constitution found. Several rural prosecutors rarely or never
sought the death penalty.
In the South Georgia Circuit in southwest Georgia, the prosecutor filed a
notice of intent to seek death in only one case that went to court between
1995 and 2004. But former district attorney J. Brown Moseley eventually
withdrew his death notice against three robbers who shot and beat an
elderly man and woman to death at a country store.
That case "probably deserved the death penalty," Moseley said, but the
elderly man's daughter did not want a death trial. Moseley accepted guilty
pleas for life with parole from all 3 defendants.
In Houston County, prosecutors brought only one capital case between 1995
and 2004. They sought death for Amos Smith, who beat Annetta Livingston,
69, with a paint can until she died, but they backed off because tests
showed he was mentally retarded.
Houston district attorney Kelly Burke, who has three capital cases
pending, said he refrained from seeking death several times because of
weak evidence. At least twice, he told the Journal-Constitution, he
declined because the victim's family was opposed: "My experience tells me
that when the victim's family doesn't want the state to impose death, it
will be very difficult to get death."
John C. McAdams, a Marquette University political science professor,
argues district attorneys should not be expected to administer the death
penalty the same way.
"It's completely unrealistic," McAdams said.
But without uniformity between court circuits, contends defense attorney
Bruce Harvey, a killer's chances of facing the death penalty can be "pure
"It's just pure geography," he said, "and that's just wrong."
(source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Statewide Expert Legal Panel Calls for Temporary Halt to Executions in
Ohio----Study uncovers systemic problems with death penalty cases
After a 30-month review of Ohios death penalty system, a team of Ohio
legal experts, working under the auspices of the American Bar Associations
Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project, today issued a report
calling for a temporary halt to executions in light of numerous problems
the team uncovered.
The team said that Ohios death penalty system is flawed due to inadequate
procedures to protect defendants, including failure to require the
preservation of biological evidence for as long as a defendant is on death
row, failure to provide adequate legal services to all capital defendants
and death row inmates, racial and geographic disparities in capital
sentencing, and insufficient safeguards to protect the rights of capital
defendants and death row inmates with mental disabilities.
The team urged Gov. Ted Strickland to temporarily suspend executions to
permit a thorough review of every aspect of capital punishment
administration in the state.
"Ohios own experts have concluded that the state fails to provide adequate
measures to protect defendants. As has happened elsewhere, Ohio has
exonerated five inmates who spent years on death row, said ABA President
William H. Neukom. The ABA agrees with the teams view that nobody should
be executed until the problems identified by these experts are addressed,
and we urge a temporary halt to executions until fairness and accuracy are
assured," he said.
The ABA neither supports nor opposes the death penalty, but it does urge a
moratorium on executions until fairness and due process are assured in
death penalty cases. The Ohio report has not been presented to the ABAs
policy-making arm, the House of Delegates, and so does not constitute
"The problems found in this assessment strike at the very heart of Ohio's
justice system," said Michael S. Greco of Boston, past president of the
ABA, in a news conference today. "The Ohio team is calling on Gov.
Strickland to temporarily suspend executions until the state can assure
its citizens that fairness and justice are being served."
The Ohio Death Penalty Assessment Team was chaired by Phyllis Crocker, an
associate dean and professor at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.
Other members of the team include U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, State
Sen. Shirley A. Smith, Magistrate Judge Michael R. Mertz, former Ohio
Supreme Court justice and current Court of Claims Judge Craig Wright,
University of Akron School of Law Prof. Margery M. Koosed,
Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Dean Geoffrey S. Mearns, Columbus
attorney S. Adele Shank, and Columbus attorney David C. Stebbins.
After citing a wide range of deficiencies in Ohios legal scheme for
managing the application of the death penalty, and hard evidence of people
sentenced to death wrongfully in Ohio, the committee strongly urges a
temporary suspension of executions until problems can be corrected and
fairness assured, said Crocker. Even death penalty advocates demand that
processes for administering the death penalty be thorough and exhaustive
to avoid the intolerable possibility that an innocent person is executed.
The assessment team determined the State of Ohio is in full compliance
with only four out of 93 protocols developed by the ABA to assess death
penalty jurisprudence. The state partially complies with 37 of the
protocols and fails to comply with 28 of them. It had insufficient
information to assess compliance with 23 protocols, and determined that
one was inapplicable.
Broad areas identified as being in need of reform are:
Inadequate procedures to protect defendants
Inadequate access to experts and investigators
Inadequate legal representation
Inadequate appellate review of claims of error
Lack of meaningful proportionality review of death sentences
Virtually nonexistent discovery provisions in state post-conviction
Racial and geographic disparities in Ohios capital sentencing
Death sentences imposed or carried out on people with severe mental
The team issued 14 specific recommendations, along with other
recommendations within each of 13 chapters of the report. They are:
Require all biological evidence be preserved in all potentially capital
cases for as long as the defendant remains incarcerated.
Require all law enforcement agencies to videotape the entirety of
custodial interrogations in homicide cases at police precincts,
courthouses, detention centers, or other places where suspects are held
for questioning, or, where videotaping is impractical, to audiotape the
entirety of the custodial interrogation.
Implement mandatory lineup procedures, using national best practices, to
protect against incorrect eyewitness identifications.
Create a commission, with the power to conduct investigations, hold
hearings, and test evidence, to review claims of factual innocence in
Adopt increased attorney qualification and monitoring procedures for
capital attorneys at trial and on appeal and qualification standards for
capital attorneys in state post-conviction and any other related
Ensure proportionality in capital cases by developing laws and procedures
to eliminate racial, geographic and other disparities.
Vigorously enforce Ohio court rules requiring prosecutors to disclose to
the defense all evidence or information known to the prosecutor that tends
to negate the guilt of the accused or mitigates punishment.
Amend Ohio statutes and rules to require the appointment of separate
counsel for direct appeal and state post-conviction proceedings
immediately after a judgment and sentence of death.
Engage in a more thorough review of the issues presented to the court(s)
in capital appeals, relax the application of waiver standards, and
decrease the use of the harmless error standard of review.
Amend state rules and statutes to allow a defendant to engage in discovery
and develop the factual basis of his/her claims prior to filing his/her
post-conviction petition, and amend state laws to allow petitioners to use
the public records laws to obtain materials in support of post-conviction
claims. Create a publicly accessible database on all potentially
death-eligible murder cases.
Employ a more searching sentencing review in capital cases before the Ohio
Supreme Court to include review of cases in which the death penalty could
have been sought but was not, or was sought but not imposed.
Conduct and release a state-sponsored comprehensive study to determine the
existence or non-existence of unacceptable disparities in the Ohio death
penalty system and provide a mechanism for ongoing study of these factors.
Adopt a law or rule excluding individuals with serious mental disorders
other than mental retardation from being sentenced to death and/or
The teams full report and executive summary, including charts that
identify specific recommendations and state compliance levels, are
available on the ABAs website at http://www.abavideonews.org/ABA340.
Additional information about the Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation
Project and the assessment project is also posted there.
Ohio is the 7th of 8 states being assessed under the ABA project, which
developed the protocols in 2001. Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Arizona,
Indiana and Tennessee preceded Ohio. The last assessment is being
conducted in Pennsylvania.
With more than 413,000 members, the American Bar Association is the
largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As
the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the
administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and
judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal
education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the
importance of the rule of law.
(source: American Bar Association News Release)
More information about the DeathPenalty