[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----IDAHO, OKLA., ARIZ., USA
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sun Sep 30 17:39:51 CDT 2007
Death penalty foe visits Boise----Helen Prejean gained fame after 'Dead
Man Walking' book
Support for capital punishment in the United States is waning, said Sister
Helen Prejean, a Catholic nun and author of "Dead Man Walking: An
Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States."
Prejean was in Boise on Friday to speak about her opposition to the death
penalty, which grew from the experience of accompanying Louisiana prisoner
Patrick Sonnier to the electric chair in 1984.
"When I came out of the execution chamber where Pat was killed ... I came
out and threw up. There was no dignity," Prejean said. "He said, 'Pray,
God hold up my legs' because he didn't want to faint.
"He wanted to die like a man. I've been a witness, so I have to tell the
Prejean's convictions resulted from an examination of faith. The more she
"descended into the gospel of Jesus," the more she became convinced that
the death penalty was morally wrong.
"The death penalty isn't one of the moral issues people reflect deeply
on," she said. "We have decided that some lives are worth so little that
they can be killed."
For most people, safety is a bigger issue than vengeance, she said.
This week, several successful challenges were made to the use of lethal
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court decided to examine the constitutionality of
On Thursday, 2 death row inmates were granted stays of execution.
Early that day, Alabama Gov. Bob Riley said Tommy Arthur would not be
executed until the state came up with a new formula for lethal injection,
according to media reports.
Late Thursday, the Supreme Court issued a stay of execution for Texas
inmate Carlton Turner Jr., who was scheduled to die by lethal injection.
The Idaho Department of Correction uses a 3-tiered procedure for lethal
injection similar to the procedure used in Kentucky. The 1st chemical
substance anesthetizes the inmate, and the other 2 substances are lethal,
according to IDC reports.
"We have tried to mask death so we don't look like we're killing people,"
Officials said Friday that IDC policy does not allow them to identify the
exact substances used in a lethal injection or if they are the same as
what's used in Kentucky.
But even if the chemicals were the same, it wouldn't matter to any of
Idaho's 19 death row inmates.
None of them are scheduled to be executed before the U.S. Supreme Court
decides if the chemicals to be used in the Kentucky case are
constitutional, said LaMont Anderson, the chief of the Idaho Attorney
General's Capital Litigation Unit.
"Even if the Supreme Court decides on this next year, it would not delay a
case in Idaho," Anderson said.
"We don't anticipate seeking a death warrant for any of our cases during
IDC lists 19 death row inmates (18 men and 1 woman), but Idaho has only
had 1 execution since reinstating the death penalty more than 2 decades
Double murderer Keith Eugene Wells died by lethal injection in early 1994
after he dropped all appeals and demanded to be executed.
The longest tenured member of Idaho's death row is Lacey Sivak, who was
convicted of 1st-degree murder in December 1981.
"To say, as a society, that all we can do is kill is the very mentality
that led to the deck of cards and Osama bin Laden," Prejean said.
(source: Idaho Statesman)
D.A. in Ada files libel lawsuit
The prosecutor's life has been shaken because of several authors' accounts
of 2 murders in his city, his lawyer says.
A wrongly convicted man and author John Grisham were among those sued for
libel in federal court Friday by Pontotoc County District Attorney Bill
Peterson and former Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Agent Gary
After filing the case in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of
Oklahoma, attorney Gary Richardson alleged during a news conference that
the defendants in the case are maligning 2 good men as they promote their
views on the death penalty in books about 2 separate Ada murders in the
"Their lives have literally been shaken by 2 out-of-towners and 1 local
person," Richardson said. Peterson "went with what he truly believed was
The case seeks in excess of $75,000 in damages.
"Only the dog that's been hit can feel the pain," Richardson said of
damages to his clients.
Dennis Fritz now lives in Kansas City, Mo., after being exonerated along
with Ron Williamson in 1999 of the rape and murder of Debra Sue Carter in
Fritz said by phone that every word in his book, "Journey Toward Justice,"
as well as Grisham's book, "The Innocent Man," is true.
"This lawsuit that he (Peterson) has filed is meritless and will not go
anywhere," Fritz said. "The only reason he's filing this is he's trying to
wipe the egg off his face because he convicted two innocent men."
Other defendants in addition to Grisham and Fritz are:
- Grisham's publisher, Doubleday Dell Publishing Group.
- Barry Scheck, a lawyer known for his role in the O.J. Simpson case and
the author of "Actual Innocence."
- Robert Mayer, author of "The Dreams of Ada," a nonfiction account of the
1984 murder of Donna Denice Haraway and the subsequent conviction of Tommy
Ward and Karl Fontenot, who both remain in prison on life sentences
- Random House Inc., which owns Doubleday Dell.
- Broadway Books, publisher of "The Dreams of Ada."
- Seven Locks Press and/or James C. Riordan, publisher of "Journey Toward
The "Innocent Man," which was released a year ago, was Grisham's 1st
"Somewhere along the line, he must have forgot he was writing a nonfiction
book and slid into fiction," Richardson said. "He got the names of our
Richardson said Peterson requested that Fritz and Williamson's DNA be
tested but that they objected. Fritz, however, said he filed several
failed motions in Pontotoc County and U.S. District Court for DNA testing.
Alison Rich, director of publicity for Doubleday, said she could not
comment on pending litigation.
Eric Ferrero, communications director of the Innocence Project, which is
co-directed by Scheck, said he could not comment until he sees the
"The facts of Dennis Fritz and Ron Williamson's tragic wrongful
convictions really speak for themselves," Ferrero said.
The Innocence Project, a legal assistance group that works to free wrongly
convicted individuals through DNA testing, represented Fritz in the case
leading to his exoneration in 1999 after 12 years in prison. Grisham is on
the board of directors of the Innocence Project.
A movie based on Grisham's book focusing on Ron Williamson's life
reportedly is in the works, with George Clooney possibly producing it.
Richardson said he just heard about the movie.
"Hopefully, they'll make more money so we'll have more to go after them
on," he said, laughing.
(source: Tulsa World)
Author John Grisham targeted in libel case filed here
An Oklahoma prosecutor and a 37-year career law enforcement officer claim
their reputations were ruined by 3 books published nearly a year ago that
profile 2 Ada homicide cases.
Those authors, their book publishers and others were the target of a civil
conspiracy lawsuit filed Friday in the U.S. District Court of Eastern
Oklahoma. The lawsuit alleges defamation and intentional infliction of
emotional distress and seeks damages of more than $75,000.
John Grisham's book "The Innocent Man," his first nonfiction work,
explores the investigation of the 1982 murder of Debbie Sue Carter, a
waitress at an Ada restaurant. The book also documents the subsequent
prosecution and conviction of Dennis Fritz and Ron Williamson in
connection with Carter's death.
Both men were convicted in 1988. Williamson, who was sentenced to death,
and Fritz, who was handed a life sentence, were exonerated 11 years later
through DNA evidence.
Innocence Project lawyer Barry Scheck represented Fritz in his bid to
overturn the life sentence. Scheck is named in the lawsuit, which was
filed by Tulsa lawyer Gary Richardson.
Telephone calls seeking comments from Grisham's publisher, the Innocence
Project - co-founded by Scheck - and others were not returned Friday.
Eric Ferrero, a spokesman for the Innocence Project, told the Associated
Press that "the facts of Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz's tragic,
wrongful convictions speak for themselves."
Grisham is a board member of the Innocence Project, an organization to
exonerate wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing.
Richardson represents William N. Peterson and Gary L. Rogers. According to
Richardson, Peterson was elected in 1980 as district attorney for
Pontotoc, Seminole and Hughes counties. Rogers, a former Shawnee police
officer and Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agent, investigated the
"The careers of these two men have been severely impacted," Richardson
said of harm he says his clients suffered as a result of Grisham's book
and 2 others published in October 2006.
During a news conference Richardson said Grisham and the other authors
lack protections afforded to journalists in libel lawsuits. Mark Hanebutt,
a journalism professor and lawyer who teaches media law at the University
of Central Oklahoma, disputes that.
"I suspect that because he (Grisham) is a published nonfiction writer, the
court would treat him as a disseminator of factual information," Hanebutt
said. "In that scenario - particularly since it (the book) is already out
there - I think the court would allow Grisham to invoke the same
protections as a journalist."
To prove actual malice, a plaintiff must prove a journalist acted with
reckless disregard of the truth. Richardson alleges in the civil complaint
that Grisham and other defendants wrote and published 3 books to sway
public opinion against the death penalty. In doing so, Richardson said,
the defendants defamed and libeled his clients.
The lawsuit filed Friday also names Random House Inc. and 2 of its
subsidiaries - Doubleday Dell Publishing Group and Broadway Books - Robert
Mayer, James C. Riordan and Seven Locks Press Inc., alleges the defendants
conspired to launch a defamatory attack against Peterson and Rogers.
The campaign, Richardson said, was launched with the publication of 3
books: Fritz' "Journey Toward Justice," Grisham's "The Innocent Man," and
Mayer's "The Dreams of Ada," which was a republished book updated with
comments from Mayer and Grisham.
(source: Muskogee Phoenix)
Condemned Ariz. killer asks state high court for reprieve
Lawyers for condemned murderer Jeffrey Timothy Landrigan asked the Arizona
Supreme Court Friday for a stay of execution.
Landrigan, 43, is scheduled to be executed Nov. 1 for the 1989 murder of
Chester Dean Dyer. But on Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear
the cases of 2 Kentucky death-row inmates who argue that lethal execution,
the execution method also used in Arizona, is cruel and unusual
Landrigan's attorneys, Jon Sands and Sylvia Lett of the Federal Public
Defender office in Phoenix, asked that Landrigan's execution be put on
hold until the U.S. Supreme Court decides the issue.
(source: The Arizona Republic)
Lethal injection review may halt US executions
America, which has some 3,350 prisoners on death row, yesterday seemed to
be moving towards an unofficial moratorium on executions after the supreme
court granted a rare last-minute reprieve to a condemned man in Texas.
The supreme court stay for Carlton Turner Jr, who was scheduled to be put
to death by lethal injection for killing his adoptive parents, arrived
hours after a death row inmate in Alabama was granted a 45-day reprieve by
the state's governor.
Opponents of the death penalty said the moves suggested there would be a
lull in executions while the supreme court reviews lethal injection, the
method for dispatching prisoners in all but one of the 38 states which
impose the death penalty.
"I think this is a sign that maybe all executions are going to be put on
hold aside from those who might volunteer, or who don't raise the issue of
the lethal injection method," said Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty
In its order on Thursday the supreme court offered no explanation for
Turner's reprieve. However, his lawyers had based their appeal entirely on
likening lethal injection to a "chemical straitjacket".
The court is expected to hear arguments next January on whether lethal
injection, a cocktail of three drugs, represents cruel and unusual
punishment and is therefore unlawful. The challenge is on behalf of 2
condemned men in Kentucky, Ralph Baze and Thomas Clyde Bowling Jr, who
argued in their 2004 suit that they would suffer excruciating pain in the
moments before death, but would be unable to cry out because of the
immobilising effects of one of the drugs in the injection.
The supreme court's consideration of lethal injection also follows a
number of botched executions.
Its decision, expected to arrive by June 2008, would have broad
implications. Most of the 37 states using lethal injection use the same
drugs as in Kentucky.
In recent months 11 states have suspended executions because of concerns
about the cruelty of lethal injection.
However, a spokesman for Amnesty International said it was too early to
say whether America was moving towards a "creeping moratorium" on
executions. Texas, which operates the busiest execution chamber, appears
resistant to a slowdown. The state executed a prisoner hours after the
supreme court announced its review - before lawyers for the condemned man
could prepare an appeal.
(source: The Guardian (UK) )
3 aging Chicago mobsters convicted of ordering murders of witnesses,
3 members of the Chicago mob's top echelon face life behind bars after
being blamed by a jury for a 16-year wave of murder aimed at silencing
witnesses and settling old scores.
But the federal government's victory Thursday at one of the biggest mob
trials in Chicago history isn't expected to put organized crime out of
business. Prosecutors say their war with the Chicago Outfit will continue.
"The Outfit isn't going away, but we aren't going away," prosecutor
Mitchell A. Mars said after the jury found 3 men he called "old-time
ranking bosses of the Outfit" responsible for 10 mob murders.
Robert D. Grant, special agent in charge of the FBI's Chicago office, said
the city is still plagued by 28 "made guys" and more than 100 associates
who do the dirty work but are in the mob's inner circle.
But he said the jury's decision was something to celebrate.
"These people were charged and convicted in this trial for being the
murderous thugs that they really are," Grant told reporters.
The jury had already convicted the three men and two others on Sept. 10 of
taking part in a long-running racketeering conspiracy that included
extortion, gambling, loan sharking and 18 long unsolved mob murders.
Jurors deliberated for 8 days to determine which defendants were
individually responsible for specific murders - the prerequisite for
imposing a maximum sentence of life in prison. That verdict came Thursday.
James Marcello, 65, was held responsible for two murders, including that
of Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, the Chicago mob's man in Las Vegas and the
inspiration for the Joe Pesci character in the movie "Casino."
Frank Calabrese Sr., 70, a portly loan shark who allegedly doubled as a
hit man, was blamed for seven. His own brother testified he strangled
victims with a rope and cut their throats to make sure they were dead.
Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, 78, was blamed for the September 1974
murder of businessman Daniel Seifert, a federal witness who was hunted
down and shot by masked men with his wife and child nearby.
The jury said it was hopelessly deadlocked on the responsibility for 8
other murders - including 1 prosecutors blame on a fourth defendant, Paul
Schiro, 70, a convicted member of a jewel theft ring.
The 5th man convicted of racketeering conspiracy, retired Chicago
policeman Anthony Doyle, was not accused of involvement in the murders.
Calabrese attorney Joseph Lopez left court grumbling that Hollywood mob
movies have made such cases harder to win. But he noted that the 10-week
trial was extraordinary.
"Let's face it, you'll never see a case like this again probably in the
history of Chicago," Lopez said. He called the aging defendants "the last
of the Mohicans - Instead of going to Shady Acres retirement home, they're
going to federal prison."
Lombardo attorney Rick Halprin said his client would most likely have gone
away for life even if he hadn't been tied to a murder. Racketeering
conspiracy alone carries a maximum of 20 years and Lombardo was convicted
in a previous labor racketeering case.
"This isn't as significant as it would have been if he were 40 years old,"
On hand were a number of the victims' relatives. Ellen Ortiz, whose
husband Richard was gunned down in July 1983, said she had been "hoping
and praying" for the day Calabrese would be held responsible.
"Now he can rest in peace after 24 years," she said of her husband.
Joe Seifert, whose father was killed while planning to testify against
Lombardo in a labor racketeering case, said the results of the trial were
good but not completely satisfying.
"He's had a lot of time free," Seifert said.
A 6th defendant, Frank Schweihs, was due to stand trial in the case but
was excused to be taken to a New York hospital for cancer treatments.
Much of the trial has been shrouded in secrecy. The jurors were anonymous,
their names protected to guard against possible pressure or reprisals.
The government's star witness was Nicholas Calabrese, brother of the
defendant. Nicholas admitted that he was a hit man for the mob and only
began to cooperate with the FBI after a bloody glove left at the scene of
a murder was found to contain his DNA.
He was promised that prosecutors would not seek the death penalty in
exchange for his testimony.
Still to come is the case of a federal deputy marshal, John Ambrose, who
is charged with leaking information to the mob concerning Nicholas
Calabrese's trips to Chicago to testify before a federal grand jury.
Ambrose has pleaded not guilty to the charge.
(source: Associated Press)
Avoiding Too Many Oral Advocates on Appeal
For many lawyers, the first exposure to the appellate process occurs in a
law school legal research and writing course, in the form of an assignment
to prepare an appellate court brief and present oral argument before a
panel of lawyers and academics filling the role of judge. If your law
school was like mine, students were put in groups of two, with each team
member representing the same client but also being responsible for
addressing a distinct issue in the case.
Thus, very early in their careers, many lawyers learn the disadvantages of
preparing appellate briefs by committee and of having more than one
advocate per side presenting oral argument. Those of us who have continued
to focus on the practice of appellate litigation ultimately recognize
that, with sufficient time and effort, it is possible to produce an
appellate brief so that the entire document sounds as though it was
written by the same person, even if multiple authors contributed to the
Unfortunately, the problem of having more than one oral advocate per side
on appeal is not as easily surmounted. The simplest cases, and thus the
simplest appeals, tend to have only a single plaintiff and a single
defendant. More complicated cases may have multiple defendants, who often
will each have their own attorneys and legal theories for why liability
should not be imposed.
When a case is called for oral argument and one side consists of more than
one party, each represented by separate counsel, the question often arises
whether the side with multiple parties should divide oral argument time
between the various lawyers. Appellate court justices typically prefer to
be addressed by only one lawyer per side -- ideally someone who is capable
of arguing all the various theories in the case. If only a single party is
on one side of an appeal, it would be very unusual for the appellate court
to allow more than one attorney to argue that party's appeal.
However, there are cases where appellate courts will allow more than one
attorney per side to argue. Those are typically cases in which the
attorneys represent different parties, who are arguing points that do not
Unfortunately, many appellate courts allot only 15 or 20 minutes of oral
argument per side without regard to whether one or more attorneys will be
arguing on one side of the appeal. Sadly, a 7 1/2-minute oral argument
does not give much time for developing a persuasive oral argument or
responding thoughtfully to questions.
Moreover, some appellate courts require advocates who are dividing
argument time to keep track on their own of the time they are using. Under
such a scenario, if the first of two lawyers runs over his allotted time,
the 2nd lawyer will essentially be penalized by not receiving the entire
time span that he originally expected to have at his disposal.
I recently saw this very thing happen to 2 lawyers, representing different
clients, who were arguing an appeal against me. The first lawyer to argue
on that side told the court he would take the 1st 10 of the 15 minutes
available. However, during the argument, questioning from the bench
prevented him from making more than one of the three points he had hoped
to address in his 10 minutes. That lawyer then used an additional 2 1/2
minutes -- in other words, 2 1/2 minutes from his colleague's would-be
time period -- to rush through his remaining two points. That left the 2nd
lawyer half as much time to make his argument as he had expected to have
A related necessity in cases where one side's oral argument time must be
divided among various lawyers is to communicate at the outset the scope
and boundaries of each advocate's presentation, so that the judges are
less likely to ask the first lawyer questions that pertain instead to
subject matter belonging to the 2nd advocate -- a situation that can
quickly become frustrating for lawyers and judges alike.
Sometimes, having more than one lawyer arguing the same side of a case on
appeal is unavoidable. In those situations, attorneys need to consider in
advance the pitfalls of divided oral argument and prepare accordingly.
(source: Law.com - Howard J. Bashman operates his own appellate litigation
boutique in Willow Grove, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia)
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