Arkansas Supreme Court Finds Arkansas Death Penalty Statute Unconstitutional

Yesterday, the Arkansas Supreme Court issued its opinion that the state law providing for capital punishment in the State of Arkansas is unconstitutional.  Which means that the men setting on Arkansas' Death Row must be grateful to the 10 men who filed this appeal and drove this issue to the highest court in that state.  

Their winning argument?  It's up to the state legislature, not the system of prisons, to decide how executions are carried out.  This isn't a ruling that ends the death penalty in Arkansas; instead, it is halting executions because of the manner in which they are being done (another lethal injection issue). 

Read the opinion in Hobbs v Jones (and the dissents) here.



U.S. Death Row in 2012: NAACP Death Row USA Study for Spring 2012 Released

This week, a new study was released on the state of Death Row here in America, surveying both the various state death rows as well as federal.  Here are some interesting facts from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund's Death Row USA quarterly report, Spring 2012 edition:

  • there aren't as many people awaiting execution - in 2000 there were 3682 and in 2012, there are 3170;
  • California has the most people setting on Death Row, Florida is second and Texas is third;
  • there are 61 women setting on Death Row today;
  • most people on Death Row are white (43.25%), and almost as many are African-American (41.80%);
  • under federal law, there is the possibility of capital punishment in courts of the:
    • U.S. Government; and
    • U.S. Military.
  • here are the states that have death penalty statutes in 2012:
    • Alabama,
    • Arizona,
    • Arkansas,
    • California,
    • Colorado,
    • Connecticut,
    • Delaware,
    • Florida,
    • Georgia,
    • Idaho,
    • Indiana,
    • Kansas,
    • Kentucky,
    • Louisiana,
    • Maryland,
    • Mississippi,
    • Missouri,
    • Montana,
    • Nebraska,
    • Nevada,
    • New Hampshire,
    • New Mexico*,
    • North Carolina,
    • Ohio,
    • Oklahoma,
    • Oregon,
    • Pennsylvania,
    • South Carolina,
    • South Dakota,
    • Tennessee,
    • Texas,
    • Utah,
    • Virginia,
    • Washington,
    • Wyoming.

*New Mexico repealed the death penalty prospectively. The two men already sentenced remain under sentence of death.

You can learn more about the NAACP Fund's Death Row USA project, here.

Florida Innocence Commission's Final Meeting: Adequate Funding of Defense Attorneys Key Issue in Justice

The Florida Innocence Commission met this week at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando;  it was the last meeting for the Florida Innocence Commission since Governor Rick Scott vetoed the bill that would fund the FIC and allow it to continue.

Read the details on how and why Governor Rick Scott killed the Florida Innocence Commission here, in an article by Radley Balko in the Huffington Post. 

Or read the editorial written by Fred Grimm in the Miami Herald, where he points out that the 14 men facing the death penalty on Florida's Death Row were cleared as being innocent after DNA testing was done. 

The real irony here?

In its last meeting, as part of its final warnings, the Florida Innocence Commission warns that the failure to adequately pay criminal defense fees in indigent defense cases, particularly those where the defendant is facing the death penalty, is one of the key factors in injustice resulting.

That's right.  As Terry Lenamon has been proclaiming for years (and see our book on this subject), the indigent defense payment issue is a real crisis in the country and injustice after injustice is the result. 

On June 30, the Florida Innocence Commission shuts its doors. No more funding.

Next week, its final report - that will undoubtedly include proposals for funding reforms - will be released.  We'll include a link once it's available. 

Terry Lenamon Shares Fulgham Trial Examples: Selected Transcripts Online

Terry Lenamon is making the following transcripts online from his recent death penalty case, where he and his defense team successfully avoided the death penalty for Joshua Fulgham:

Voir Dire - Defense

Defense Opening - Trial

State Opening - Trial

State and Defense Opening - Penalty

State Closing

Defense Closing and State Rebuttal

Please contact Terry if you have any questions - including participation in one of his upcoming seminars.

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