[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----US MIL., CALIF., ARIZ., USA
rhalperi at smu.edu
Mon Aug 29 11:48:23 CDT 2011
Military has called off 10 executions
10 of the 16 U.S. military personnel sentenced to death since 1984 have had
their sentences overturned, officials say.
McClatchy Newspapers reported Sunday military appellate courts spared the
defendants the death penalty because of mistakes made throughout the military's
Most of the former death row inmates have been re-sentenced to life in prison.
McClatchy said critics say in many cases, defendants charged with capital
crimes are given young, inexperienced lawyers to represent them.
"If you have a system where it's always amateur hour and where the lawyers are
always trying their first capital case, you're going to guarantee the same
kinds of mistakes that have resulted in many, many cases being reversed --
because of ineffective assistance of counsel -- for the last 30 years are going
to be made over and over again," David Bruck, director of the legal aid
organization Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse, said.
"Even worse, you may have cases where the person is not only sentenced to death
because of their lawyers' mistakes but because the courts will say that it's
close enough for government work."
Military officials have argued they can't provide the top-shelf attorneys most
civilian courts require because defense attorneys and prosecutors generally
rotate out of their jobs every couple of years.
The Army started a review in January of how it handles capital cases but
officials said no specific red flags popped up, McClatchy said.
"Any good criminal justice system worth its salt is constantly looking at how
it does business," said Col. Chuck Pede, who oversees criminal law policy for
the Army's Office of the Judge Advocate General.
"I don't see any major systemic issues that cry out for action on the part of
the armed forces."
Still, the military's 80 % death sentence-reversal rate contrasts with a 47 %
reversal rate in civilian courts.
(source: United Press International)
Death penalty opponents launch ballot initiative
When legislation to let California voters decide whether to keep the death
penalty got shelved last week, death penalty opponents vowed to launch a ballot
They're keeping their promise. California Taxpayers for Justice is unveiling
the SAFE California Act, which would replace capital punishment with life
imprisonment without parole.
Listed speakers at this morning's news conference include Gil Garcetti, the
former Los Angeles district attorney who has prosecuted dozens of death penalty
cases, Jeanne Woodford, the former warden of San Quentin State Prison who
oversaw 4 executions and is now the executive director of Death Penalty Focus;
Gloria Killian, who spent 16 years in prison for a crime she says she didn't
commit; and Judy Kerr, whose brother's killer is still at large.
Proponents of the initiative say that replacing the death penalty with life
behind bars without parole would free up money for local law enforcement,
victim compensation and schools. The presser starts at 10 a.m. at the state
Attorney General's Office, 1300 I St., in Sacramento.
Sen. Loni Hancock's Senate Bill 490 would have put a measure on the November
2012 ballot asking voters whether to eliminate the death penalty. She withdrew
the bill from consideration last Thursday when she didn't have the votes to get
it out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
SB 490 passed the Senate 39-0 in June. The lone lawmaker who didn't vote in the
upper house was Sen. Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster. A Field Poll last year found
that 70 % of Californians favor keeping the death penalty.
(source: Sacramento Bee)
Defense cost in border activist trials: $951K
The total cost to defend 3 border activists ultimately convicted of killing a
southern Arizona man and his young daughter in a 2009 home invasion was more
than $951,000, making it one of the costliest in Pima County’s history.
The Arizona Daily Star reports that the only defendant to avoid death row
accounted for 45 % of the total expenses, and the six attorneys assigned to the
cases received roughly $500,000.
Shawna Forde, Jason Bush and Albert Gaxiola all were all convicted of
1st-degree murder this year in the deaths of Raul Junior Flores, 29, and his
9-year-old daughter, Brisenia.
Separate juries sent Forde, 43, and Bush, 37 — both from Washington state — to
death row, but a 3rd jury opted for a life sentence for Gaxiola, 44.
Authorities said 3 people dressed as law enforcement officers forced their way
into the victims’ home in Arivaca, south of Tucson, at about 1 a.m. on May 30,
Prosecutors claimed Gaxiola, of Arivaca, wanted Raul Flores dead because he was
a competitor in the drug trade.
Bush was identified as the gunman by Flores’ wife, who survived the shooting.
Authorities said Bush was part of Minutemen American Defense founder Forde’s
plan to rob and kill drug smugglers to fund her organization.
The defendants were represented by taxpayer-paid attorneys who were required to
seek approval from the county’s Office of Court Appointed Counsel for their
The attorneys warned at the outset the case could be one of the costliest in
county history given the state’s pursuit of the death penalty, the facts of the
case and the defendants’ backgrounds.
According to records obtained by the Star, Gaxiola’s defense team spent about
$426,000, Forde’s team spent around $296,000 and Bush’s attorneys $229,000.
Veteran defense attorney Laura Udall scoffs at any suggestion Gaxiola escaped
the death penalty because his attorneys spent significantly more money than
Forde’s and Bush’s attorneys.
“Money does not make the case outcome better,” she said. “It is first and
foremost the facts that you have and then the information that you can glean
from those facts. It is knowing what expert witnesses to get and hard work by
the mitigation team and all the lawyers involved. It is never giving up.”
Forde’s lead defense attorney, Eric Larsen, also suggested it was the
differences in the defendants — not money spent — that affected the outcomes.
“I can say that there were three different juries chosen for 3 different cases,
and that explains the different results,” Larsen said. “Forde was a different
trial than Bush and both were different from Gaxiola.”
The lead attorneys were paid $100 an hour and their co-counsel was paid $75 an
hour. Each of the defense teams also hired investigators, paralegals, DNA and
mental health experts, and mitigation specialists who gather evidence about
1st-degree-murder defendants that may influence a jury not to sentence them to
(source: Arizona Capitol Times)
US-China Legal Cooperation Fund Announces New Grants
The US-China Legal Cooperation Fund has announced its most recent round of
grants for rule-of-law projects in China.
The US-China Legal Cooperation Fund, an initiative financed by leading American
companies engaged in trade and investment with the People's Republic of China,
has awarded more than $1.4 million in grants since 1999. Each project is
jointly implemented by American and Chinese partners; to date, 60 American and
53 Chinese institutions have participated in projects that received support
from the Fund. The Fund's Board of Trustees, co-chaired by Herbert J. Hansell
of the law firm Jones Day and R. Michael Gadbaw of Georgetown Law Center,
announced that the following three projects have received support from the
•Cornell Law School and China University of Political Science and Law will
conduct an exchange program to strengthen China's first death penalty clinic,
by having a Chinese attorney observe and participate in the work of the Cornell
Death Penalty Project.
•John Marshall Law School and the China Intellectual Property Training Center
will convene an advanced workshop for Chinese and American law students on
patent law, including a comparative appellate moot court program, and a
semester-long educational program on intellectual property law for Chinese
•Vermont Law School and the Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims at
China University of Political Science and Law will help judges and instructors
at China's National Judges College develop and implement an environmental law
The US-China Legal Cooperation Fund solicits proposals from American and
Chinese partners seeking support for cooperative efforts to strengthen
improvement of legal services, protection of legal rights, legal education,
legislative and judicial procedures, and other rule-of-law-related areas in
Current financial contributors to the Fund include:
GE Foundation; The Boeing Company; ExxonMobil Corporation; Motorola Solutions,
Inc.; Cargill, Incorporated; Dewey & LeBoeuf; FedEx Express; Akin Gump Strauss
Hauer & Feld LLP; Mary Kay Inc.; and Jones Day.
The US-China Legal Cooperation Fund is a program of the China Business Forum
(501/c/3), the education and research arm of the US-China Business Council
(501/c/6). Further information about the Fund and its grants program is
available on its website (www.uschinalegalcoop.org).
(source: The China Business Forum)
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