Lockett Family Sues Over Oklahoma Execution


In what is probably no surprise to anyone, the family of Clayton Lockett, who suffered so horribly during his April 29, 2014 execution by the State of Oklahoma, has filed a civil lawsuit for damages.
You can read the full complaint online here (thanks to the Death Penalty Information Center).
Lockett Family Complaint Names Dr. Johnny Zellmer - Physician Present at Execution
The Lockett family is seeking damages because the  “unsound procedures and inadequately trained personnel” caused the deceased to suffer in no small part because of Dr. Johnny Zellmer who was at Mr. Lockett’s execution, and they allege “… was willing to, and did in fact, conduct the medical experiment engaged in by Defendants to kill Clayton Lockett regardless of the fact that these chemicals had never been approved or tested by any certifying body.”
Of interest and perhaps of legal weight in this lawsuit is the fact that after the Lockett execution, the State of Oklahoma not only stayed its pending executions for the remainder of 2014 but also revamped its entire execution process as well as its Death Chamber.  


Terence Lenamon Panel with Sister Helen Prejean in Fort Lauderdale on November 8

Terry Lenamon Joins Sister Helen Prejean and Others To Discuss Death Penalty 

Mark your calendars for November 8, 2014, when Terence Lenamon will be joined by Sister Helen Prejean and Herman Lindsey (played by Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn, respectively, in the movie, "Dead Man Walking"); along with Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein and Melisa McNeill and Betsy Benson, Assistant Public Defenders Homicide Division to discuss issues surrounding capital punishment and the growing problem of innocents facing the death penalty.  

Where:  The Sanctuary Church, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, 33304

When:  November 8, 2014, at 6 pm



October 10: World Day Against Mental Disorder and Death Penalty


Mental Health Problems and The Death Penalty

October 10, 2014, will be the sixth time that the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty has recognized the international problem of people suffering from mental illness being sentenced to death.

Go here to check out the schedule of events.

From the WCADP site:

On 10 October 2014, the 12th World Day Against the Death Penalty is drawing attention to people with mental health problems who are at risk of a death sentence or execution.

While opposing the death penalty absolutely, abolitionists are also committed to see existing international human rights standards implemented.

Among these is the requirement that persons with mental illness or intellectual disabilities should not face the death penalty.

Terence Lenamon and QEEG: New Law Textbook, Appearing at FordhamLaw

Terry is a big proponent of QEEG as evidence in criminal matters.  (See our earlier posts for details, including " When will QEEG Brain Mapping Get Widespread Respect in Courtroom?").  
His position is that the admission of QEEG evidence in the Grady Nelson death penalty trial was critical to victory in that case.  For more, read the blog post "QEEG Brain Mapping Evidence and Mitigation in South Florida's Grady Nelson Trial."
Terry’s latest:
1.  Next month, Terence Lenamon will be part of a panel discussion at Fordham Law School in New York on "Neuroscience in the Courtroom," discussing "How Neuroscience Expands and Transforms Proof."   Here are the details.   
Advances in neuroscience are challenging conventional notions about human thought, behavior, pain, and brain injury. These developments are upending established medical concepts as well as traditional moral and ethical considerations. These insights could potentially uproot old paradigms embedded in the law and rules of evidence. 
Fordham Law’s “Neuroscience in the Courtroom” has assembled a panel of world-class neuroscientists and distinguished experts, judges, and lawyers to share their knowledge and experience regarding issues posed by advances in neuroscience and neuro-imaging/investigations: diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), functional MRI (FMRI), quantitative electroencephalography (QEEG), volumetric MRI, near infra-red spectroscopy (NIRS), and positron emission tomography (PET).
By casting a new light on traditional ideas regarding brain injury, pain, morality, criminal culpability, competence, objectivity/subjectivity, and causation, neuroscience presents an array of challenges that are being played out in the courtrooms of this country and globally. 
Attend Fordham Law’s “Neuroscience in the Courtroom” to learn how judges and lawyers can respond to the advances, insights and challenges that neuroscience and neuro-imaging present for proof and adjudication. 
The conference is designed for
  • Judges who will preside over cases involving neuroscience issues

  • Attorneys in relevant practices (e.g., personal injury, criminal, trusts and estates) who will contend with neuroscience issues with their clients

2.  Terence Lenamon’s work in the Grady Nelson case, and his work with QEEG, is featured in the new textbook edition of Law and Neuroscience by Professor Owen Jones et al.
The implications for law of new neuroscientific techniques and findings are now among the hottest topics in legal, academic, and media venues. Law and Neuroscience a collaboration of professors in law, neuroscience, and biology is the first coursebook to chart this new territory, providing the world s most comprehensive collection of neurolaw materials.
  • Designed from the ground up with extensive e-capability in mind, with each e-chapter extensively linked to outside sources.

  • Technical subjects explained in an accessible and user-friendly manner.

  • Extensive glossary of key terms.

  • Covers highly current material; over 60% of the cases and publications included were published since 2008



Death Penalty Wrongful Conviction in North Carolina

Image from NCCADP.ORG:  Henry McCollum, right after he’s been exonerated.
DNA Frees 2 Brothers After 30 Years Behind Bars
Henry McCollum and Leon Brown are brothers.  
For the past 30 years, McCollum has lived on North Carolina’s Death Row after being convicted of murder and sentenced to death back in 1984. Brown lived on Death Row, too, until his murder conviction was tossed.  The crime happened when Henry was 19 and Leon was only 15 years old.  
These two men have literally grown up from boys to men behind the bars of a North Carolina prison facility.  And they are innocent of the crimes for which they were charged.
They were accused of raping and murdering an 11 year old girl, Sabrina Buie, and each did sign a confession to the crime.  However, both have low IQ scores which immediately bring the “confessions” into question.  (McCollum tests at 60 IQ; Brown at 49).
Confession debates can be put aside, however.  DNA testing done by the Innocence Project has proven that these two men are innocent, and that a man named Roscoe Artis — on Death Row for a similar murder — has a match to the DNA found at the scene of Sabrina Buie’s murder.
McCollum holds the record as the longest-serving inmate on death row in North Carolina.  Both of the brothers have now been freed.   
Another example of the need for warriors like Terry Lenamon out there in the trenches when the Death Penalty is on the table.    


Great Documentary on the Death Penalty Available on Netflix

Now available on Netflix (streaming) is an amazing documentary on the death penalty that delves into capital punishment through the eyes of the "death house" chaplain -- a man who witnessed nearly 100 executions in his role as chaplain.  

You can watch "At The Death House Door" 24/7 online or via your streaming TV device if you have a Netflix subscription.  

It also discusses the case of Carlos DeLuna (see our post last month on a new book, The Two Carlos, that deals with the travesty of an innocent man being executed in Texas).

Great documentary for anyone interested in death penalty issues:





Lethal Injection: If It's Not the Chemicals, It's the Method

Last week, a report was released over in Oklahoma that confirmed that the botched execution of Clayton Derrell Lockett wasn’t the result of any drug or combination of drugs. Nope.

Apparently, the horrific execution of Mr. Lockett was the result of how the IV was inserted into his arm.

You’ll recall that it was only after 45 minutes of obvious pain where the man writhed and struggled against his restraints there on the table that he finally passed away last April.

Now we know that the executioner was not a physician or even a paramedic. In fact, under the current Oklahoma laws, no formal medical training is required for the persons who are responsible for the lethal injection method of execution in that state.

Of course, Oklahoma isn’t alone in horrific executions. Arizona took almost 2 hours to execute Joseph R. Wood III this past July.  

Read the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety Report on the Execution of Clayton D. Lockett here. 

Texas Has A Top-Secret Execution Method


This week, the Associated Press did a nice job of listing the various problems that the lethal injection method of execution has had since it was first used by the State of Texas in 1982.  You can read this reporting here, “Some Lethal Injection Problems in US Executions.”
Needless to say, the botched executions that have happened in 2014 are far from the first problems that have resulted while executing a human being by injecting them with chemicals.  It’s an execution method that may be viewed in future years as heinous, cruel, and just plain wrong.  Hints of this include the growing alarm being voiced by medical professionals to lethal injections.  
Terry Lenamon has had a longstanding concern about this method of execution — especially when states turned to drugs that vets commonly use to put down pets. See our earlier posts for more on this, including “As These Words Are Being Typed, Ohio Is Killing Ken Biros in an Unvetted Execution Method, Unless You Count Euthanasia of Dogs as Vetting.
However, instead of halting executions it appears that capital punishment continues in Texas, Florida, and other states without apparent concern for these lethal injection methods.   Texas has scheduled another execution using lethal injection - the first since April 2014.
As for what is going to be used for execution?  We don’t know.  

Is anyone else concerned about this?  

Is anyone else thinking that there’s a constitutional problem with both the secrecy as well as the methodology?


Doctors and the Death Penalty: Dr. Marc Stern Speaks

Several years ago, Dr. Marc Stern resigned from the Department of Corrections for Washington State, where he worked as its chief medical officer, because he could not jive his professional ethics as a physician with the state’s use of capital punishment.  
It’s a big dilemma in the use of lethal injections, particularly, as a means of execution since physicians are committed to health and saving lives, not ending them.  
Image:  States in red have had an execution since 1976.
Doctors are against the death penalty, and as Dr. Stern personifies, many also stand against physicians being involved in the supervision of others in any form of execution process (not just lethal injections). 
Dr. Stern Explains The Doctor's Dilemma Regarding the Death Penalty
You can read about Dr. Stern’s resignation in an 2008 piece written by Adam Wilson for the Seattle Times here.
To learn more about Dr. Stern’s position on the Death Penalty, particularly in light of recent botched executions, read his Op-Ed piece published last month in the Guardian, “I was told to approve a lethal injection, but it violates my basic medical ethics.”

Happy Birthday to Gerry Spence / Trial Lawyer's College

Terry just got back from Gerry Spence's Trial Lawyer's College -- he's a huge proponent of the TLC, having graduated from it back in 2011.

Today, Terry wanted to share this video with you from the Gerry Spence Birthday Tribute:


The Wrong Carlos: Great Read - and Shows How Important Terry Lenamon's Work Is For Justice

Have you heard about how Texas executed the wrong man (no, not Cameron Todd Willingham)?

Here's a good read for all those interested in the American system of death penalty / capital punishment. It tells the story of Carlos DeLuna, wrongfully executed for murdering a woman named Wanda Lopez.

It was only after an investigatory team at the Columbia Law School looked into Carlos DeLuna's case that it was discovered his claims that the authorities "had the wrong Carlos" were true.

Shows how important a good capital lawyer can be, and how vital Terry Lenamon's work is to the system of justice.


High School and College Level Educational Materials on the Death Penalty

Did you know that the Death Penalty Information Center has compiled curricula on the death penalty for both the high school and college level?  

From the DPIC website:

Our award-winning high school curriculum, Educational Curriculum on the Death Penalty, includes 10-day lesson plans, interactive maps and exercises, and a presentation of pros and cons on the death penalty for discussion and debate. It is also available as a free iBook for the Apple iPad. The iBook version incorporates the interactivity and user-friendly interface of a tablet, including touch-screen navigation, access to the full curriculum even when offline, and use of standard iBook features, such as definitions and note-taking. For instructions on downloading the iBook, click here.

Our college-level curriculum, Capital Punishment in Context, contains detailed case studies of individuals who were sentenced to death in the U.S. The curriculum provides a complete narrative of each case, along with original resources, such as homicide reports, affidavits, and transcripts of testimony from witnesses. The narratives are followed by a discussion of the issues raised by each case, enabling students to research further into a broad variety of topics. Both curricula have special materials for those who register. They are widely used by educators in the U.S. and around the world in the fields of civics, criminal justice, sociology, and many other areas.


Inspector General's Report of FBI Review of Death Penalty Cases

Last month, the Department of Justice released a report from the Inspector General's Office about the work of the FBI in death penalty cases.  It's shocking.  

READ THE REPORT ONLINE HERE, "An Assessment of the 1996 Department of Justice Task Force Review of the FBI Laboratory." 


 Specifically, the Inspector General compiled a report on how the Federal Bureau of Investigation FAILED to give proper notice to Death Row inmates that their cases were being reviewed as possibly having had FBI experts giving bad, wrong, "inaccurate" testimony at their criminal trial.

That's right: the FBI crime lab testimony was wrong in cases where people were facing the death penalty.  

From the Inspector General:  

"[T]he FBI did not take sufficient steps to ensure that the capital cases were the Task Force’s top priority. We found that it took the FBI almost 5 years to identify the 64 defendants on death row whose cases involved analyses or testimony by 1 or more of the 13 examiners.

The Department did not notify state authorities that convictions of capital defendants could be affected by involvement of any of the 13 criticized examiners. Therefore, state authorities had no basis to consider delaying scheduled executions."

How bad is this?  We know of THREE PEOPLE who were executed before the FBI let them or their lawyers know that this review of FBI testimony was underway.  

There may be more.  

The Inspector General is recommending that all physical evidence in a Death Penalty case be re-tested for 24 another Death Row inmates who either died while awaiting execution or who have already been executed. 

Jodi Arias Will Defend Herself in Penalty Phase of Death Penalty Trial

Today, Jodi Arias was granted her request to represent herself in the second part of her Arizona death penalty trial.  The second phase of the trial is called the "penalty phase" and it's here that factors are considered in deciding whether or not she should be sentenced to death for the 2008 crime of killing Travis Alexander.  

For those following the Jodi Arias case, you'll remember that the jury convicted her of first degree murder but failed to come to an agreement on capital punishment.  The prosecution was granted a second trial for the penalty phase, and that's going to go forward now with Arias representing herself.

Stand-by Counsel for Jodi Arias

She'll probably get a stand-by counsel here.  

You'll recall that Terence Lenamon recently acted in this role in the Michel Escoto case, when Escoto was allowed to represent himself here in Florida.  

Watch Terry during his Dateline NBC interview on the Escoto trial here.  

Penalty Phase: What Jodi Arias Must Prove as Her Own Lawyer

During the penalty phase, the prosecution will present aggravating factors that support the death penalty for Jodi Arias.  

She will be responsible for presenting mitigating factors (something that Terry is known to be proficient at -- presenting mitigation as a reason to not sentence someone to death).  

Arizona's mitigating factors are any evidence relevant to “any aspect of the defendant’s character, propensities or record and any of the circumstances of the offense.”

In order for the prosecutor to get a sentence of capital punishment for Jodi Arias, see A.R.S. § 13-751:

There must be 2 findings:

1. proof has been provided beyond a reasonable doubt of one or more aggravating circumstance under the 14 aggravating circumstances listed in A.R.S. § 13-751(F), and

2.  there is no proof of mitigating circumstances "sufficiently substantial to call for leniency.” A.R.S. § 13-751(E).


Lenamon's Client, Last Defendant in $200 Million Medicare Fraud Trial, Faces Guilty Jury Verdict

This was a big deal: a $200 Million Medicare Fraud operation where around 40 people have been sentenced to prison time for doing things like submitting false invoices to Medicare for mental health services that never happened.

This week, a federal jury came back with a verdict on the last 2 defendants in this big Department of Justice investigation into this South Florida Medicare Fraud enterprise involving seven American Therapeutic Clinics scattered in different cities and lots of players.

The big guns have already been dealt with by the justice system and are behind bars.

Terence Lenamon represented one of the last two defendants in the sting — Roger Bergman, a 65 year old physician’s assistant, and Mr. Bergman was found guilty by the jury this week. Bergman and his co-defendant, a 55 year old patient recruiter named Rodolfo Santaya, will be sentenced by a federal judge at a sentencing hearing in the future.

SInce this is an ongoing case, Terry Lenamon’s position on Mr. Bergman’s situation in this complicated, immense fraud can best be described by language taken from Terry Lenamon’s Closing Statement in the trial (p. 1242):

Because what's really going on here is Roger Bergman is a physician's assistant trying to make a living. And when he's working day in and day out, he's not thinking about committing Medicare fraud or falsifying information, he's thinking about, you know, my car broke down this morning and I may not be able to make it in. And I got to make up for those files so I can dictate those files because what I do is very simple. This is what Roger Bergman does.

And don't let the government fool you about his responsibility. He's a physician's assistant. He takes the place of a physician legally. He interviews them. He does two things. He does a note and he does an initial evaluation. He gets paid $30 for the initial evaluation and $15 for a note. It may take him five minutes to do a note, it may take him ten, it may take him 15 to do an initial evaluation, it may take him 20.
But when he is done, he writes it on a yellow pad. Those yellow pads are kept, were kept and destroyed by the government. And then he dictates that information and it's supposed to be madeinto a chart. …

Prediction: Win on appeal.


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