This week, the DPIC unveiled its new website, providing easier access to its resources on the death penalty and the state of capital punishment in this country.

The site also expands not only the amount of information provided by the non-profit organization, but how that data is presented.  From the DPIC release:

Among the most notable additions of the new website are 20 interactive Tableau graphics, including States With and Without the Death Penalty, Prisoners on Death Row, and a number of graphics on executions, exonerations, and grants of clemency. The graphics will allow users to filter information in a variety of new ways, including narrowing by year or range of years, geography, race, sex, and, for some graphics, race of victim. The website launch is the first reconceptualization of the DPIC website.

DPIC Tracking Hurst Relief Requests Before the Florida Supreme Court

Of note from a Florida capital case perspective is its page dedicated to Hurst v. Florida, providing not only background information on Hurst but keeping track of subsequent Florida Supreme Court decisions applying Hurst.

Last updated in April 2019, the DPIC is maintaining an online chart of all Florida Supreme Court decisions involving Hurst (see the chart here).  According to their figures, there were 297 cases before the Florida Supreme Court seeking relief based upon Hurst, with 139 prisoners being granted relief (approximately 47%) with 158 prisoners seeing their requests for relief denied by the state’s High Court (approximately 53%).

Terence Lenamon is involved in seeking Hurst relief this summer, advocating for inmate Michael Jackson.  For details, read our earlier post.

Also see:

This week’s death penalty trial of Markeith Loyd will include the following motion by Terence Lenamon to prevent the prosecution from introducing evidence in other alleged crimes involving Markeith Loyd. Read the full text of the filings here, as presented to the judge:

DEFENSE MOTION TO STRIKE

Defense Amended Motion to S… by on Scribd

 

STATE’S NOTICE OF INTENT TO USE THE EVIDENCE

State of Florida’s 2017… by on Scribd

 

About ten days ago, Terence Lenamon’s motion to have former Florida state attorney Aramis Ayala testify for the defense in the death penalty trial of Markeith Loyd was denied by Judge Leticia Marques.  For details on Ayala’s stance on the death penalty and how that played in the Loyd proceedings, read our earlier discussion (which includes the full text of the defense motion seeking her mitigating testimony).  From that motion:

Ayala’s testimony is significant in that as the sitting and elected State Attorney, she determined that despite the interpretation that these crimes were “brutal”, the brutality was nevertheless outweighed by mitigating factors that guided her to a decision not to seek death. 

This week, Aramis Ayala, the first African American to serve as a State Attorney for the State of Florida,  announced in a video published on her official Facebook page that she will not run for a second term as state attorney for Orange and Osceola counties.

You can watch her announcement here.

Ayala’s stance on the death penalty has only become clearer since the day that Governor Rick Scott removed all the capital cases from her docket.  She is now considered by the news media as “…a national figure soon after her death penalty decision and has traveled overseas to speak about why the death penalty should be abolished.”  Orlando Political Observer, May 30, 2019.

 

Today, Terence Lenamon argued his motion that  Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala be allowed to testify as part of the defense for Markeith Loyd.  Back in 2017, Ms. Ayala declined to seek the death penalty as prosecutor in the Loyd case; as a result, Governor Rick Scott replaced her at the state’s trial table.  (Watch an excerpt of the hearing here.)

Trial Court Judge Leticia Marques denied the motion.

The Loyd case is set for trial in September.

Read the Motion Presented in Loyd Defense, Asking for Ayala’s Testimony

The motion, as filed of record, is shown below for those interested in the arguments that were made today.

 

Terence Lenamon will once again be teaching at the In Defense of the Damned Seminar presented by Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers’ College.

The seminar will be held at the TLC Ranch outside of Dubois, Wyoming, near Yellowstone National Park over June 21-29.   If you are interested in the possibility of attending this seminar, act fast.  There is already a wait list.

Details about the Seminar from the TLC website:

ABOUT “CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS SERVE BOTH THE INNOCENT AND THE CRIMINAL ALIKE. WHEN SUCH RIGHTS ARE WRESTED FROM THOSE WHO ARE CRIMINALLY CHARGED, THEY ARE ALSO STOLEN FROM US.” – GERRY SPENCE

This TLC seminar on the Thunderhead Ranch in Dubois, WY will equip you with the critical skills you need for all phases of your most difficult trials, where everything is on the line for LIFE, DEATH AND FREEDOM. This course will help you access your individual unique selves in order to discover the story of your clients’ cases, develop honest defenses and perfect your performance during the most critical trial skills including voir dire, opening statement, direct, cross-examination and final argument. And you will learn how to apply the TLC methods of mitigation in the penalty phases of your cases. Supported by an experienced team of criminal defense lawyers, behavioral experts and communications specialists [at least a 6:1 student-faculty ratio], you will learn innovative TLC methods by doing, not suffering through endless lectures. You will learn how to win the hearts and minds of your jurors, even against overwhelming odds. Hands-on, small group work on cases will make your newly-learned methods readily accessible in the courtroom. Join us, and learn how to win justice for your client. Because of high demand for this course, attendees will be chosen based on caseload and other factors determined by faculty. Early registration does not guarantee a seat in this course.

As reported in the Tallahassee Democrat in its article “Funding for court-appointed counsel dries up; JAC can’t pay bills,” written by Jeffrey Schweers and published on April 11, 2019, Florida’s Justice Administrative Commission has run out of money.

Accordingly, Terence Lenamon has filed a motion to continue the current death penalty trial of Markeith Loyd, with all proceedings being placed on hold for around two months, giving JAC time to get back on track.

Hopefully, the motion will be heard on Wednesday, April 17, 2019. To read the complete Motion with its details regarding the impact of JAC funding on indigent defense in a capital case, click on the image below:

 

Across the world, death sentences and executions are happening for all sorts of reasons, and in many countries the legal protections advanced by Terence Lenamon and other criminal defense lawyers like him are not provided to the accused or to the convicted.

2018: More Executions in the United States

This month, Amnesty International released its latest findings into executions by the government worldwide.  Among them:

  1. Amnesty International recorded at least 690 executions in 20 countries in 2018;
  2. There were 31% less executions in 2018 than in 2017 (at least 993);
  3. In 2018, there were fewer executions reported than Amnesty International has recorded in the past 10 years;
  4. The number of executions (25) and death sentences (45) reported in the United States rose in 2018 (albeit “slightly” as compared to 2017);
  5. Texas nearly doubled its figure compared to 2017 (from 7 to 13);
  6. Nebraska carried out its first execution since 1997;
  7. South Dakota carried out its first execution since 2012; and
  8. Tennessee carried out its first execution since 2009.

Full Report: Death Sentences and Executions 2018 by Amnesty International

For more on the Death Penalty in 2018, read the full text of the new report from Amnesty International:

Terence Lenamon’s upcoming capital case docket involves the death penalty defense of Michael James Jackson.   Jackson is currently a resident of Florida’s Death Row.

Continuing Impact of Hurst on Florida Death Penalty

This case is one of the many Florida death penalty cases that have gone under review in the aftermath of Hurst v. Florida.  For details on the Supreme Court of the United States’ ruling in Hurst, see:

For a complete listing of the cases impacted by Hurst, see the ongoing online reporting table provided by the Death Penalty Information Center, which explains that Michael James Jackson was granted a new sentencing hearing in June 2017 by the Florida Supreme Court.

The table also lists those who have been denied re-hearings, or new sentencing trials, as well as those Death Row inmates that have been executed since the Hurst considerations began.

Lenamon Defense Begins on June 10, 2019

Terry is scheduled to be in the courtroom at the defense table, arguing on behalf of Michael Jackson, beginning in Jacksonville, Florida, on June 10, 2019.

“A tough one,” says Terry.  Why?

Well, for one thing, the Florida Supreme Court has already heard Mr. Jackson’s arguments and opined that “… Jackson’s death sentences are proportionate punishment for his capital offenses.”

Read the complete 2009 Florida Supreme Court Opinion here, now part of the Terry Lenamon Online Library:

 

California Governor Gavin Newsom Blocks Capital Punishment Throughout the State, Ending Death Penalty in a Single Order

In Florida, Texas, and most other states where prosecutors are given the option of seeking the death penalty (as are federal prosecutors under federal law), the focus is upon the individual case.  Will the state ask for death?  Will it file its Notice of Intent to Seek the Death Penalty?  If so, then the defense team responds.  Both in the guilt phase and the sentencing trial, the capital defense lawyers fight to stop the death penalty from being imposed upon the defendant.

Note: for details on how the state can move back and forth on seeking the death penalty, read Terry Lenamon’s experiences as a defense lawyer in the Casey Anthony case in his memoir, Heinous, Atrocious and Cruel: Casebook of a Death Penalty Attorney. 

This month, the State of California reminds us that the ability to stop the death penalty can and does lie with one person, whose executive decisions are powerful enough to block executions as well as prosecutorial requests for capital punishment.  By one signature, the death penalty is off the table in pending cases (and future ones) and Death Row residents have hope restored.

Here is how that happens; see the Executive Order signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom on March 13, 2019 (full text below).  The Newsom Order does three huge things, as it:

  1. declares a moratorium on executions of California’s 737 inmates on death row;
  2.  orders a withdrawal of California’s lethal injection protocol; and
  3.  calls for the immediate closure of the execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison.

 The only thing we don’t see here is the Governor ordering a Death Row resident to be freed outright, or for the change of any existing Death Row sentence.

This is Not Permanent: The Order Will Expire

Many hail this as a tremendous victory for those who oppose the death penalty.  And it is.

However, we all have to remember that this is not a permanent change.  The Executive Order lives for the term of the current governor’s time in office.  New election with a new person in that office?  Things can change.

Full Text of Governor Newsom’s Order Ending California’s Death Penalty

Here is the full text of the Governor’s Order: 

EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT STATE OF CALIFORNIA

Executive Order N-09-19

WHEREAS, California’s death penalty system is unfair, unjust, wasteful, protracted and does not make our state safer.

WHEREAS, the state’s bedrock responsibility to ensure equal justice under the law applies to all people no matter their race, mental ability, where they live, or how much money they have.

WHEREAS, death sentences are unevenly and unfairly applied to people of color, people with mental disabilities. and people who cannot afford costly legal representation.

WHEREAS. innocent people have been sentenced to death in California. Moreover, the National Academy of Sciences estimates that as many as one in 25 people sentenced to death in the United States is likely innocent.

WHEREAS, since 1978, California has spent $5 billion on a death penalty system that has executed 13 people.

WHEREAS, no person has been executed since 2006 because California’s execution protocols have not been lawful. Yet today, 25 California death row inmates have exhausted all of their state and federal appeals and could be eligible for an execution date.

WHEREAS, I will not oversee execution of any person while Governor.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GAVIN NEWSOM, Governor of the State of California, in accordance with the authority vested in me by the Constitution and statutes of the State of California, do hereby issue the following order to become effective immediately:

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:

1 . An executive moratorium on the death penalty shall be instituted in the form of a reprieve for all people sentenced to death in California. This moratorium does not provide for the release of any person from prison or otherwise alter any current conviction or sentence.

2. California’s lethal injection protocol shall be repealed.

3. The Death Chamber at San Quentin shall be immediately closed in light of the foregoing.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that as soon as hereafter possible, this Order shall be filed with the Office of the Secretary of State and that widespread publicity and notice shall be given to this Order.
This Order is not intended to, and does not, create any rights or benefits, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity, against the State of California, its departments, agencies, or other entities, its officers or employees or any other person.

 

Governor of California

ATTEST:

ALEX PADILLA Secretary of State