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The Gross Injustices Of Capital Punishment: A Torturous Practice And Justice Thurgood Marshall’S Astute Appraisal Of The Death Penalty’S Cruelty, Discriminatory Use, And Unconstitutionality, John D. Bessler Apr 2023

The Gross Injustices Of Capital Punishment: A Torturous Practice And Justice Thurgood Marshall’S Astute Appraisal Of The Death Penalty’S Cruelty, Discriminatory Use, And Unconstitutionality, John D. Bessler

Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice

Through the centuries, capital punishment and torture have been used by monarchs, authoritarian regimes, and judicial systems around the world. Although torture is now expressly outlawed by international law, capital punishment—questioned by Quakers in the seventeenth century and by the Italian philosopher Cesare Beccaria and many others in the following century—has been authorized over time by various legislative bodies, including in the United States. It was Beccaria’s book, Dei delitti e delle pene (1764), translated into French and then into English as An Essay on Crimes and Punishments (1767), that fueled the still-ongoing international movement to outlaw the death penalty. …


Severe Mental Illness And The Death Penalty: A Menu Of Legislative Options, Richard J. Bonnie Apr 2023

Severe Mental Illness And The Death Penalty: A Menu Of Legislative Options, Richard J. Bonnie

Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice

In 2003, the American Bar Association established a Task Force on Mental Disability and the Death Penalty to further specify and implement the Supreme Court’s ruling banning execution of persons with intellectual disability and to consider an analogous ban against imposing the death penalty on defendants with severe mental disorders. The Task Force established formal links with the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the final report was approved by the ABA and the participating organizations in 2005 and 2006. This brief article focuses primarily on diminished responsibility at the time …


Does The Death Penalty Still Matter: Reflections Of A Death Row Lawyer, David I. Bruck Apr 2023

Does The Death Penalty Still Matter: Reflections Of A Death Row Lawyer, David I. Bruck

Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice

This talk was given by Professor David Bruck for the Frances Lewis Law Center at Washington and Lee University School of Law, April, 2002. It is a follow-up to “Does the Death Penalty Matter?,” given by Professor Bruck as the 1990 Ralph E. Shikes Lecture at Harvard Law School.


Resurrecting Arbitrariness, Kathryn E. Miller Oct 2022

Resurrecting Arbitrariness, Kathryn E. Miller

Articles

What allows judges to sentence a child to die in prison? For years, they did so without constitutional restriction. That all changed in 2012’s Miller v. Alabama, which banned mandatory sentences of life without parole for children convicted of homicide crimes. Miller held that this extreme sentence was constitutional only for the worst offenders—the “permanently incorrigible.” By embracing individualized sentencing, Miller and its progeny portended a sea change in the way juveniles would be sentenced for serious crimes. But if Miller opened the door to sentencing reform, the Court’s recent decision in Jones v. Mississippi appeared to slam it …


When Police Volunteer To Kill, Alexandra L. Klein Jan 2022

When Police Volunteer To Kill, Alexandra L. Klein

Scholarly Articles

The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of lethal injection, yet states continue to struggle with drug shortages and botched executions. Some states have authorized alternative methods of execution, including the firing squad. Utah, which has consistently carried out firing squad executions throughout its history, relies on police officers from the jurisdiction where the crime took place to volunteer to carry out these executions. This represents a plausible--and probable--method for other states in conducting firing squad executions.

Public and academic discussion of the firing squad has centered on questions of pain and suffering. It has not engaged with the consequences …


"Only To Have A Say In The Way He Dies": Bodily Autonomy And Methods Of Execution, Alexandra L. Klein Jan 2022

"Only To Have A Say In The Way He Dies": Bodily Autonomy And Methods Of Execution, Alexandra L. Klein

Scholarly Articles

Capital punishment is one of the most significant intrusions into a person's bodily autonomy; the state takes a person's life. Even though the state has stripped a person on death row of much of their autonomy and intends to kill them, removing all autonomy, a person sentenced to death may, in some circumstances, choose how they will die. While most states rely on a single method of execution, some states permit a condemned person to choose among two or more methods of execution. Constitutional challenges to methods of execution requires the challenger to demonstrate a substantial risk of severe pain …


Three Observations About The Worst Of The Worst, Virginia-Style, Corinna Barrett Lain May 2021

Three Observations About The Worst Of The Worst, Virginia-Style, Corinna Barrett Lain

Washington and Lee Law Review Online

Much could be said about Virginia’s historic decision to repeal the death penalty, and Professor Klein’s essay provides a wonderful starting point for any number of important discussions. We could talk about how the decision came to be. Or why the move is so momentous. Or what considerations were particularly important in the decision‑making process. Or where we should go from here. But in this brief comment, I’ll be focusing not on the how, or the why, or the what, or the where, but rather on the who. Who are condemned inmates, both generally and Virginia‑style?


The Societal Impact Of Capital Punishment And Its Future Role In Modern Day America, Laurel Lee Apr 2021

The Societal Impact Of Capital Punishment And Its Future Role In Modern Day America, Laurel Lee

Honors Theses

Capital punishment has been a well-established, although extremely controversial, practice throughout American history. It has been the subject of much criticism and debate both nationally and globally, dating back to ancient times. This study intends to research the historical, legal, and social changes of capital punishment in the United States that have occurred since the dawn of the practice in order to detect any trends, and if so, whether these trends allow a realistic prediction of the future of capital punishment. The chronology of capital punishment is first examined in this study in order to indicate that the controversy surrounding …


The Beginning Of The End: Abolishing Capital Punishment In Virginia, Alexandra L. Klein Mar 2021

The Beginning Of The End: Abolishing Capital Punishment In Virginia, Alexandra L. Klein

Washington and Lee Law Review Online

When thinking about the history of capital punishment in the United States, I suspect that the average person is likely to identify Texas as the state that has played the most significant role in the death penalty. The state of Texas has killed more than five hundred people in executions since the Supreme Court approved of states’ modified capital punishment schemes in 1976. By contrast, Virginia has executed 113 people since 1976.

But Virginia has played a significant role in the history of capital punishment. After all, the first recorded execution in Colonial America took place in 1608 at Jamestown, …


Nine Ways Of Looking At Oklahoma City: An Essay On Sam Anderson’S Boom Town, Rodger D. Citron Jan 2021

Nine Ways Of Looking At Oklahoma City: An Essay On Sam Anderson’S Boom Town, Rodger D. Citron

Scholarly Works

No abstract provided.


Mercy In American Law: The Promise Of The Adoption Of The Outlook Of Jewish Law, Yehiel Kaplan Jan 2021

Mercy In American Law: The Promise Of The Adoption Of The Outlook Of Jewish Law, Yehiel Kaplan

Touro Law Review

Under Jewish law, mercy and compassion are essential principles to ensure the presence of a just legal system. Not only do mercy and compassion in the law preserve traditional values of human dignity, implementing a more compassionate legal system has practical benefits in both the spheres of legal judgment and of legal punishment. This article will compare the Jewish legal system’s application of these necessary doctrines to how other modern legal systems, including the American legal system, implement mercy and compassion. As a result of this in-depth comparison, this article recommends that the American legal system, and other modern legal …


When We Breathe: Re-Envisioning Safety And Justice In A Post-Floyd Era, Aya Gruber Jan 2021

When We Breathe: Re-Envisioning Safety And Justice In A Post-Floyd Era, Aya Gruber

Publications

10th Annual David H. Bodiker Lecture on Criminal Justice delivered on Wed., Oct. 21, 2020 at Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.


Sister Helen Prejean And The Death Penalty: Decades Of Fighting Capital Punishment, University Marketing And Communications, Helen Prejean May 2020

Sister Helen Prejean And The Death Penalty: Decades Of Fighting Capital Punishment, University Marketing And Communications, Helen Prejean

DePaul Download

Sister Helen Prejean has dedicated her life to opposing the death penalty after she witnessed an execution in her home state of Louisiana. Her efforts have sparked a national dialogue on capital punishment and she has helped shape the Catholic Church’s position on the topic. In 2011, she donated her personal archives to the university to help the DePaul community continue to learn from her work. On this episode of DePaul Download, Sister Helen talks about life’s work and what keeps her going.


Evolving Standards Of Decency: A View Of 8th Amendment Jurisprudence And The Death Penalty, Jared Lockhart, Madeline Hill Apr 2020

Evolving Standards Of Decency: A View Of 8th Amendment Jurisprudence And The Death Penalty, Jared Lockhart, Madeline Hill

Brigham Young University Prelaw Review

In July 1997, Kenneth Foster was indicted on capital murder charges

and sentenced to death even though he had only committed robbery.

3 On August 14, 1996, Kenneth Foster and his friends, Mauriceo

Brown, DeWayne Dillard, and Julius Steen, rented a car and

drove to downtown San Antonio, Texas. Later that night, Brown

suggested that the men rob a few people in order to make up for the

money they had lost while partying. After their second robbery that

evening, Foster did not want to continue breaking the law, according

to Dillard’s courtroom testimony four years later. Dismissing

his request, …


Supreme Court Clerks And The Death Penalty, Matthew Tokson Apr 2020

Supreme Court Clerks And The Death Penalty, Matthew Tokson

Utah Law Faculty Scholarship

This Essay is part of GW's Supreme Court Clerks at 100 symposium.

The Supreme Court is involved, directly or otherwise, with virtually every execution carried out in the United States. Most executions are appealed to the Court, and inmates commonly request a stay of execution a few days or hours before their scheduled death. The clerks review these requests and recommend a ruling.

A few days after I arrived at the Court, I got my first death penalty assignment. As the date drew near, the defendant asked the Court to stay his execution. I opened his file and began to …


Nondelegating Death, Alexandra L. Klein Jan 2020

Nondelegating Death, Alexandra L. Klein

Scholarly Articles

Most states’ method of execution statutes afford broad discretion to executive agencies to create execution protocols. Inmates have challenged this discretion, arguing that these statutes unconstitutionally delegate legislative power to executive agencies, violating the state’s nondelegation and separation of powers doctrines. State courts routinely use the nondelegation doctrine, in contrast to the doctrine’s historic disfavor in federal courts. Despite its uncertain status, the nondelegation doctrine is a useful analytical tool to examine decision-making in capital punishment.

This Article critically evaluates responsibility for administering capital punishment through the lens of nondelegation. It analyzes state court decisions upholding broad legislative delegations to …


Reimagining The Death Penalty: Targeting Christians, Conservatives, Spearit Jan 2020

Reimagining The Death Penalty: Targeting Christians, Conservatives, Spearit

Articles

This Article is an interdisciplinary response to an entrenched legal and cultural problem. It incorporates legal analysis, religious study and the anthropological notion of “culture work” to consider death penalty abolitionism and prospects for abolishing the death penalty in the United States. The Article argues that abolitionists must reimagine their audiences and repackage their message for broader social consumption, particularly for Christian and conservative audiences. Even though abolitionists are characterized by some as “bleeding heart” liberals, this is not an accurate portrayal of how the death penalty maps across the political spectrum. Abolitionists must learn that conservatives are potential allies …


Urge To Reform Life Without Parole So Nonviolent Addict Offenders Never Serve Lifetime Behind Bars, Johanna Poremba Jan 2020

Urge To Reform Life Without Parole So Nonviolent Addict Offenders Never Serve Lifetime Behind Bars, Johanna Poremba

Touro Law Review

No abstract provided.


Book Review Essay: Jewish And American Law: A Comparative Study. (Vols. 1 And 2) By Samuel J. Levine, Marie A. Failinger Jan 2020

Book Review Essay: Jewish And American Law: A Comparative Study. (Vols. 1 And 2) By Samuel J. Levine, Marie A. Failinger

Touro Law Review

No abstract provided.


Replacing Death With Life? The Rise Of Lwop In The Context Of Abolitionist Campaigns In The United States, Michelle Miao Jan 2020

Replacing Death With Life? The Rise Of Lwop In The Context Of Abolitionist Campaigns In The United States, Michelle Miao

Northwestern Journal of Law & Social Policy

On the basis of fifty-four elite interviews[1] with legislators, judges, attorneys, and civil society advocates as well as a state-by-state data survey, this Article examines the complex linkage between the two major penal trends in American society during the past decades: a declining use of capital punishment across the United States and a growing population of prisoners serving “life without the possibility of parole” or “LWOP” sentences. The main contribution of the research is threefold. First, the research proposes to redefine the boundary between life and death in relation to penal discourses regarding the death penalty and LWOP. LWOP …


Discretionary Life Sentences For Juveniles: Resolving The Split Between The Virginia Supreme Court And The Fourth Circuit, Daniel M. Coble May 2019

Discretionary Life Sentences For Juveniles: Resolving The Split Between The Virginia Supreme Court And The Fourth Circuit, Daniel M. Coble

Washington and Lee Law Review Online

At the age of 17, Donte Lamar Jones shot and killed a store clerk as she laid down on the floor during a robbery. He was spared the death penalty by agreeing instead to die in prison at the end of his life. Two years later in Virginia, 12 individuals were murdered for doing nothing more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Those individuals were killed by Lee Malvo and John Muhammad, better known as the “D.C. Snipers.” While John Muhammad was given the death penalty for his heinous crimes, Lee Malvo, who was 17 during …


Death In America Under Color Of Law: Our Long, Inglorious Experience With Capital Punishment, Rob Warden, Daniel Lennard May 2018

Death In America Under Color Of Law: Our Long, Inglorious Experience With Capital Punishment, Rob Warden, Daniel Lennard

Northwestern Journal of Law & Social Policy

No abstract provided.


All Bathwater, No Baby: Expressive Theories Of Punishment And The Death Penalty, Susan A. Bandes Apr 2018

All Bathwater, No Baby: Expressive Theories Of Punishment And The Death Penalty, Susan A. Bandes

Michigan Law Review

A review of Carol S. Steiker and Jordan M. Steiker, Courting Death: The Supreme Court and Capital Punishment.


Dissecting The Aba Texas Capital Punishment Assessment Report Of 2013: Death And Texas, A Surprising Improvement, Patrick S. Metze Feb 2018

Dissecting The Aba Texas Capital Punishment Assessment Report Of 2013: Death And Texas, A Surprising Improvement, Patrick S. Metze

Akron Law Review

Professor Metze dissects the American Bar Association report, September 2013, entitled Evaluating Fairness and Accuracy in State Death Penalty Systems: The Texas Capital Punishment Assessment Report—An Analysis of Texas’s Death Penalty Laws, Procedures and Practices. This Report was produced by the ABA’s Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, specifically the Death Penalty Due Process Review Project, which identified 12 inadequacies in the Texas Capital Punishment System, recommended changes, and evaluated compliance. Now, four years and two legislative sessions later, this Article explores what Texas has done in the interim to improve its death penalty process. Incredibly, the Article concludes …


Legal Vs. Factual Normative Questions & The True Scope Of Ring, Emad H. Atiq Jan 2018

Legal Vs. Factual Normative Questions & The True Scope Of Ring, Emad H. Atiq

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

When is a normative question a question of law rather than a question offact? The short answer, based on common law and constitutional rulings, is: it depends. For example, if the question concerns the fairness of contractual terms, it is a question of law. If it concerns the reasonableness of dangerous risk-taking in a negligence suit, it is a question of fact. If it concerns the obscenity of speech, it was a question of fact prior to the Supreme Court's seminal cases on free speech during the 1970s, but is now treated as law-like. This variance in the case law …


Convictions Of Innocent People With Intellectual Disability, Sheri Johnson, John H. Blume, Amelia Courtney Hritz Jan 2018

Convictions Of Innocent People With Intellectual Disability, Sheri Johnson, John H. Blume, Amelia Courtney Hritz

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

In Atkins v. Virginia, the Supreme Court held that executing individuals with intellectual disability violates the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause of the Eighth Amendment. In addition to concerns over culpability and deterrence, the Court’s judgment in Atkins was informed by the heightened “risk of wrongful execution” faced by persons with intellectual disability. This essay explores that question both anecdotally and quantitatively, hoping to illuminate the causes of wrongful conviction of persons with intellectual disability. We provide examples from our experiences in the Cornell Death Penalty Clinic and cases brought to our attention by defense attorneys. We also present data …


The Republican Party, Conservatives, And The Future Of Capital Punishment, Ben Jones Jan 2018

The Republican Party, Conservatives, And The Future Of Capital Punishment, Ben Jones

Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology

The United States has experienced a significant decline in the death penalty during the first part of the twenty-first century, as death sentences, executions, public support, and states with capital punishment all have declined. Many recent reforms banning or placing a moratorium on executions have occurred in blue states, in line with the notion that ending the death penalty is a progressive cause. Challenging this narrative, however, is the emergence of Republican lawmakers as champions of death penalty repeal legislation in red states. This Article puts these efforts by Republican lawmakers into historical context and explains the conservative case against …


Equal Protection Under The Carceral State, Aya Gruber Jan 2018

Equal Protection Under The Carceral State, Aya Gruber

Publications

McCleskey v. Kemp, the case that upheld the death penalty despite undeniable evidence of its racially disparate impact, is indelibly marked by Justice William Brennan’s phrase, “a fear of too much justice.” The popular interpretation of this phrase is that the Supreme Court harbored what I call a “disparity-claim fear,” dreading a future docket of racial discrimination claims and erecting an impossibly high bar for proving an equal protection violation. A related interpretation is that the majority had a “color-consciousness fear” of remedying discrimination through race-remedial policies. In contrast to these conventional views, I argue that the primary anxiety …


Police, Race, And The Production Of Capital Homicides, Jeffrey A. Fagan, Amanda Geller Jan 2018

Police, Race, And The Production Of Capital Homicides, Jeffrey A. Fagan, Amanda Geller

Faculty Scholarship

Racial disparities in capital punishment have been well documented for decades. Over 50 studies have shown that Black defendants more likely than their white counterparts to be charged with capital-eligible crimes, to be convicted and sentenced to death. Racial disparities in charging and sentencing in capital-eligible homicides are the largest for the small number of cases where black defendants murder white victims compared to within-race killings, or where whites murder black or other ethnic minority victims. These patterns are robust to rich controls for non-racial characteristics and state sentencing guidelines. This article backs up the research on racial disparities to …


Parsing Personal Predilections: A Fresh Look At The Supreme Court's Cruel And Unusual Death Penalty Jurisprudence, Susan M. Raeker-Jordan Nov 2017

Parsing Personal Predilections: A Fresh Look At The Supreme Court's Cruel And Unusual Death Penalty Jurisprudence, Susan M. Raeker-Jordan

Maine Law Review

The now well-known case of Atkins v. Virginia decided that the execution of those with mental retardation constituted cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. The more recent case of Roper v. Simmons decided that execution of those who were under the age of eighteen when they committed their crimes also constituted cruel and unusual punishment. Both decisions changed the law that had existed since 1989, when the Court held in Penry v. Lynaugh and Stanford v. Kentucky that executions of members of both classes were not unconstitutional. Writing for the Court in Atkins v. Virginia, Justice Stevens was …