Category Archives: Death Penalty

Stephen Bright’s Course on Capital Punishment Available Online

Stephen Bright’s online course on capital punishment examines issues of race and poverty in the criminal justice system and the imposition of the death penalty on the intellectually disabled and mentally ill. Continue reading

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Robert Holsey executed despite lawyer’s consumption of vodka, concern about pending prosecution and disbarment, and failure to present mitigating evidence

Death sentence of intellectually disabled man upheld even though was represented at his capital trial by a lawyer who drank a quart of vodka every night of trial while preparing to be sued, criminally prosecuted, and disbarred for stealing client funds. He failed to present evidence that his intellectually disabled client was “subjected to abuse so severe, so frequent, and so notorious that his neighbors called his childhood home ‘the Torture Chamber.’” Continue reading

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Prosecutors take capital cases to federal court to avoid state jurisdictions with large minority populations

Federal prosecutors seek death sentences in federal courts to avoid minority jurors in state districts that have a high minority population. Many crimes can be prosecuted in either the federal or state courts if there is any conceivable “federal interest” such as a carjacking. State court juries in Orleans Parish, LA, may have as many as 70% African Americans, while the federal district that includes New Orleans has only 20% African Americans. Continue reading

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Justice Sotomayor dissents from failure to review Alabama law allowing judges to override jury verdicts of life imprisonment and impose death

Alabama law allowing elected judges to reject jury sentences of life imprisonment and impose the death penalty should be reviewed by the Supreme Court, Justice Sonya Sotomayor said in a dissent from the Court’s refusal to consider such a case.  … Continue reading

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Implicit racial bias influences imposition of the death penalty

Racial stereotypes of jurors who may associate white defendants as having more worth than black defendants contributes to the racial disparities in the infliction of the death penalty. Death-qualified jurors held stronger racial biases than potential jurors who are excluded from serving in death penalty cases because of their inability to consider a sentence of death. Continue reading

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