Terry Lenamon Interview: Orlando Sentinel TV Guy Hal Boedeker Talks Casey Anthony Chapter of Terry's New Book

Admist the Orlando Sentinel's column covering television - with the series finales of The Closer and the continued success of NCIS, TV Guy Hal Boedeker took the time to talk with Terry Lenamon about one chapter of his new book (see it there in the left sidebar).

Interestingly, Hal Boedeker was focused on one chapter of Terry's many different stories of death penalty cases in his book: the Casey Anthony representation.  (Terry covers many different instances where he represented people facing capital punishment; the Anthony case is just one section of this book.)

As those who follow this blog will recall, Terence Lenamon was the first death penalty qualified attorney who represented Casey Anthony after she was arrested and jailed.  What happened there?

Terry gives some information in the Orlando Sentinel interview.  For the full story, check out the book. 

 

 

 

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Terry Lenamon New Book Available at Amazon: Heinous, Atrocious and Cruel

 

 

Heinous, atrocious and cruel - these words describe the crimes that Terence ("Terry") Lenamon defends on a daily basis as one of Florida's select group of death-qualified attorneys.

Terry achieved national recognition as a death-qualified defense trial lawyer with his representation of some of Florida's most well-known and most reviled defendants. His cases have aired on the First 48, Caso Cerrado, Issues with Jane Velasuez Mitchell, and Nancy Grace.  His clients have included Casey Anthony, Yvette Yallico, Cesar Mena, and Harrell Brady, the infamous "Miami Strangler."

In this book, he has chronicled some of his most challenging cases.

These cases offer a fascinating insider's look at the workings of a death penalty prosecution. This is a world that most people never get to see, and a world that most people would like to pretend does not exist. Terry and his team take the reader on journeys to discover how their clients ended up facing death row.

These cases explore the much deeper issues of compassion, forgiveness, retribution, and revenge. The defense of people accused of horrific crimes often requires a deeply critical look at how we as a society treat some of our most damaged and weakest members. As their defender, Terry does not attempt to justify or excuse their crimes, but to offer sometimes disturbing insights into how these fellow human beings came to his figurative doorstep. No matter what your stance is on the death penalty, this book is a must read for those interested in the workings of our criminal justice system and capital crimes defense. These stories represent a fraction of his cases.

Terry is a Board Certified criminal defense attorney practicing in Miami, Florida. Terry has first-chaired over 100 jury trials in his 17 years practicing law. Terry Lenamon is also founder and the former Executive Director of the Florida Capital Resource Center, a non-profit organization that provides support to Florida death penalty attorneys.

For a looksie, please check out the preview made available at the Amazon website.  

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First Time in 35 Years: Number of Death Sentences Less Than 100 In U.S. - What's Going On

Fascinating news out of the Death Penalty Information Center:  in 2011, there were only 43 executions after 2010's 46 and 78 new death sentences were given to defendants in 2011 after 112 in 2010.  That's the big news: 112 down to 78 new sentences of death is record-breaking. 

Read the DPIC Report online here (or download the pdf).

Right now, lots of discussion is taking place as to the reasons why this is happening. 

  • It means that capital punishment is not being given to those defendants found guilty of crimes. 
  • It means that there may be less prosecutions seeking the death penalty in their cases, too. 
  • And, hat tip to the defense bar, it may also mean that defense attorneys are doing an excellent job of convincing juries of the mitigating circumstances that exist in cases that should thwart a sentence of death. 

So, what is going on?

The DPIC points out that Gallup Polls have a falling number of Americans that support the death penalty, too.  Gallup shows 61% support the death penalty now; that's down from 68% in 2001.

A Fordham law professor opines that media coverage plays a factor here: not only are folk more aware of the reality that innocents do get convicted (and sentenced to death) but that capital cases are much more expensive for state budgets. She also explained to USA Today that the U.S.Supreme Court has issued opinions that have narrowed when the death penalty can be used (i.e., limiting it regarding minors or the mentally challenged). 

This is a hot topic and lots of discussion is going to be had on 2011 as the Year We Went Under 100 Death Sentences for a long while.  There's obviously a number of factors at play. 

One thing that might need to be discussed more: the fact that the states are in a quandary about how to kill, what with all the constitutional issues involved in lethal injection these days and the relunctance to return to old standbys like firing squads or electric chairs. 

Martel v. Clair and Lawyers for Death Penalty Defendants: The Ultimate Duty When Representing Those Facing Capital Punishment

 This week, the New York  Times wrote a short article informing its readers of the case that is going before the United States Supreme Court out of California, Martel v. Clair (you can follow the case online via the USSCt docket ).  The High Court will be considering the following issue - and only this issue - in its review:

Whether a condemned state prisoner in federal habeas corpus proceedings is entitled to replace his court-appointed counsel with another court-appointed lawyer just because he expresses dissatisfaction and alleges that his counsel was failing to pursue potentially important evidence.

This week, the Justices heard oral argument in this case and next week, you can listen to that December 6, 2011, oral argument online here.   The State of California (technically, warden Michael Martel) was represented by Ward A. Campbell, Supervising Deputy Attorney General and the Death Row Inmate Kenneth Clair was represented by Seth P. Waxman out of Washington, D. C.

The Facts Behind Martel v. Clair

Back in 1987, California Death Row Inmate Kenneth Clair was sentenced to die for the sexual assault / strangulation death of Linda Faye Rodgers.  After the trial, Mr. Clair filed a petition for habeas corpus and a federal public defender was appointed to represent Clair in this federal court proceeding.  

Clair's efforts in the federal system and state system went forward for many years.  The federal district judge ruled that the federal proceedings would be stayed while Clair's state remedies were "exhausted" including those on claims raised after the murder trial was done.   At the California Supreme Court, a second habeas corpus request by Clair was denied, and the ball was back in the court of the federal system to seek relief.

In June 2005, Clair wrote a letter requesting a new lawyer and sent it to the federal judge, the second letter that Clair had sent to the court.  Clair had already written the judge to voice his concerns and complaints about his lawyer and what Clair saw as his attorney's neglect and disinterest in his case.  

The federal court had done something after that complaint letter: the attorney was questioned and the lawyer responded to the court by reporting that there had been a conference with their client, Mr. Clair, and that the attorney-client relationship would be continuing.  The conference happened in April 2005. 

Key to the second Clair letter: Clair told the court that a private investigator had discovered physical evidence that had never been tested and that his lawyer hadn't looked it over, much less had it tested or tried to introduce it at trial.  The investigator also wrote the judge, and confirmed what the Death Row inmate had written.  

Here's the shocker:  after getting that PI letter and the inmate's letter, the federal judge didn't move forward to investigate what this was all about.  The  U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ultimately ruled that the district court abused its discretion and now, the case is before the High Court for review.

From the briefing:


At the end of ten years of capital federal habeas corpus proceedings in the district court, respondent suddenly complained about and sought replacement of his court-appointed public defender with a new appointed lawyer. The district court refused, explaining that "it appears Petitioner's counsel is doing a proper job" and that "[n]o conflict of interest or inadequacy of counsel is shown," and thereupon issued its ruling denying habeas corpus relief.

On appeal, however, the Ninth Circuit appointed a replacement lawyer, vacated the judgment, and remanded for further proceedings to allow the new lawyer to raise additional claims for relief. The Ninth Circuit explained that no showing of ineffectiveness of counsel was required, for it was enough that Clair had expressed "dissatisfaction" and had alleged that the public defender was failing to pursue potentially important evidence. 

 

Court Appointed Death Penalty Counsel - Huge Duty With Insufficient Funding

Last year, we discussed how California in particular was in crisis because of a funding problem in death penalty defense representation, "Lawyers Cannot Afford to Take Death Row Appeals in California."  

Is the fact that this lawyer had to operate on a shoestring budget (and that's being kind) a factor in the Clair case?  

And, assuming this to be true, then will the U.S. Supreme Court take this opportunity to address the indigent defense crisis in this country, where attorneys are appointed to represent defendants but are not given sufficient funding to do their job?  

The High Court arguably already had this opportunity back in the summer of 2010 and failed to address this problem.  We'll keep our fingers crossed, but we're not optimistic.  Money isn't the focus of the pending case - and there are lots of arguments against the Ninth Circuit's ruling on all sorts of reasons, including an "administratively unworkable result" challenge by a bunch of state attorneys general, including Florida's Pam Bondi (read the amicus brief here).  

 

 
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