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Full-Text Articles in Law

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.


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 …


The Court And Capital Punishment On Different Paths: Abolition In Waiting, Carol S. Steiker, Jordan M. Steiker Apr 2023

The Court And Capital Punishment On Different Paths: Abolition In Waiting, Carol S. Steiker, Jordan M. Steiker

Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice

The American death penalty finds itself in an unusual position. On the ground, the practice is weaker than at any other time in our history. Eleven jurisdictions have abandoned the death penalty over the past fifteen years, almost doubling the number of states without the punishment (twenty-three). Executions have declined substantially, totaling twenty-five or fewer a year nationwide for the past six years, compared to an average of seventy-seven a year during the six-year span around the millennium (1997-2002). Most tellingly, death sentences have fallen off a cliff, with fewer the fifty death sentences a year nationwide over the past …


Against The Death Penalty, Charles Jessup Apr 2022

Against The Death Penalty, Charles Jessup

Student Research Submissions

My thesis is an argument against the death penalty. Given that public support for the death penalty in America is at a half-century low (according to the Pew Research Center), the timing could not be more appropriate to examine the death penalty. This research project had a two-step approach: first, ethical theory-based arguments for and against the death penalty were examined. Following that ethical theory-based examination, real-world statistics were applied to these theories to test where they stand in modern society. The findings contained in this research project point to a clear reality that the death penalty in America is …


"Insanity Is Smashing Up Against My Soul": The Fifth Circuit And Competency To Be Executed Cases After Panetti V. Quarterman, Michael L. Perlin, Talia Roitberg Harmon Apr 2022

"Insanity Is Smashing Up Against My Soul": The Fifth Circuit And Competency To Be Executed Cases After Panetti V. Quarterman, Michael L. Perlin, Talia Roitberg Harmon

Articles & Chapters

One of the open secrets of death penalty law and policy is the astonishingly high percentage of individuals on death row with serious mental disabilities. This is well known to lawyers who represent this cohort (and presumably, equally well known to the district attorneys who nevertheless prosecute them and the judges who try and sentence them), but is not generally discussed in the press nor, certainly, in political discourse. In the aggregate, this is far beneath society’s radar.

It is now over 14 years since the US Supreme Court decided a case that clarified the underlying issues. In Panetti v. …


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 …


Can Delaying An Execution Due To Covid-19 Amount To Unconstitutional Discrimination?, Benjamin Joshua Ong Jan 2022

Can Delaying An Execution Due To Covid-19 Amount To Unconstitutional Discrimination?, Benjamin Joshua Ong

Research Collection Yong Pung How School Of Law

This note discusses the case of Syed Suhail bin Syed Zin v Attorney-General [2021] 1 SLR 809 (CA); [2021] 4 SLR 698 (HC) and its implications for equality law in Singapore.


Life Without Parole Is Replacing The Death Penalty -- But For Those Who Don’T Have The Possibility Of Parole, Their Future Is Bleak., Jessica Lerner Dec 2021

Life Without Parole Is Replacing The Death Penalty -- But For Those Who Don’T Have The Possibility Of Parole, Their Future Is Bleak., Jessica Lerner

Capstones

Across the country, life sentences are increasingly being used to replace the death penalty, according to a recent study by The Sentencing Project. Nearly 162,000 people are serving life sentences – one out of every nine in prison, the study found – and for those like Darrell Powell, who don’t have the possibility of parole, their future is bleak.

https://jlerner.exposure.co/life-without-parole-is-replacing-the-death-penalty?source=share-jlerner


Capital Punishment Of Young Adults In Light Of Evolving Standards Of Science And Decency: Why Ohio Should Raise The Minimum Age For Death Penalty Eligibility To Twenty-Five (25), Talia Stewart Nov 2021

Capital Punishment Of Young Adults In Light Of Evolving Standards Of Science And Decency: Why Ohio Should Raise The Minimum Age For Death Penalty Eligibility To Twenty-Five (25), Talia Stewart

Cleveland State Law Review

Up until the Supreme Court’s 2005 ruling in Roper v. Simmons, juveniles could constitutionally be executed for qualifying criminal offenses. The Roper Court raised the minimum age for execution to eighteen, citing both a national consensus against executing minors, as well as recent research (at the time) showing that juveniles are more vulnerable to negative influences and outside pressures. Since Roper, the Supreme Court has remained silent regarding the requisite minimum age for execution and has left the decision up to individual states. While a slim majority of states have now abolished the death penalty in its entirety, …


Life After Sentence Of Death: What Becomes Of Individuals Under Sentence Of Death After Capital Punishment Legislation Is Repealed Or Invalidated, James R. Acker, Brian W. Stull Jul 2021

Life After Sentence Of Death: What Becomes Of Individuals Under Sentence Of Death After Capital Punishment Legislation Is Repealed Or Invalidated, James R. Acker, Brian W. Stull

Akron Law Review

More than 2500 individuals are now under sentence of death in the United States. At the same time, multiple indicators—public opinion polls, legislative repeal and judicial invalidation of deathpenalty laws, the reduction in new death sentences, and infrequency of executions—suggest that support for capital punishment has significantly eroded. As jurisdictions abandon or consider eliminating the death-penalty, the fate of prisoners on death row—whether their death sentences, valid when imposed, should be carried out or whether these individuals should instead be spared execution—looms as contentious political and legal issues, fraught with complex philosophical, penological, and constitutional questions. This article presents a …


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 …


Blurred Lines: How To Rationally Understand The “Rational Understanding” Doctrine After Madison V. Alabama, Cassidy Young Mar 2021

Blurred Lines: How To Rationally Understand The “Rational Understanding” Doctrine After Madison V. Alabama, Cassidy Young

Pepperdine Law Review

In Madison v. Alabama, the Supreme Court held that a capital inmate’s inability to remember his crime did not render him incompetent to be executed. The Court reasoned that an individual who suffers from episodic memory loss may still “rationally understand” society’s reasons for sentencing him to death for a crime he once committed. This Note explores the impact of memory loss on a person’s self-identity, and consequently challenges the notion that a capital inmate who no longer remembers his crime can truly have a rational understanding of it. Specifically, this Note examines how memory loss substantially weakens the two …


The Post-Conviction Claim That Unites Death Row, Emily Levy Mar 2021

The Post-Conviction Claim That Unites Death Row, Emily Levy

Arkansas Law Review

“. . . [D]eath-penalty cases are different from other criminal cases, due to the obvious finality of the punishment.” Thirty-one executions have taken place in Arkansas since 1990. In February of 2017, Arkansas, uniquely, sought to execute eight inmates in eleven days—the so-called “Arkansas Eight.” All of those death row inmates shared a common postconviction claim: Strickland. Prior to Strickland v. Washington, no Supreme Court jurisprudence made clear what constituted objectively sufficient defense representation pursuant to the Sixth Amendment. But that changed in 1984 when Strickland made clear that the Sixth Amendment included the right of effective assistance of counsel.


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, …


The Intersection Of Wrongful Convictions And Gender In Cases Where Women Were Sentenced To Death Or Life In Prison Without Parole, Connor F. Lang Feb 2021

The Intersection Of Wrongful Convictions And Gender In Cases Where Women Were Sentenced To Death Or Life In Prison Without Parole, Connor F. Lang

Michigan Journal of Gender & Law

This Note examines National Registry of Exonerations data and discusses the prevalence of false confessions and presence of a child victim in cases of women who were convicted of murder, received a serious sentence, and were later exonerated. After looking at the cases of women exonerated after receiving death sentences or life without parole sentences in light of the prevalence of these factors, this Note argues that examination of the cases reveals that the presence of a false confession or a child victim may have contributed to some of the wrongful convictions where these factors may have led to the …


When Mental Health Meets “The One-Armed Man” Defense: How Courts Should Deal With Mccoy Defendants, Farid Seyyedi Jan 2021

When Mental Health Meets “The One-Armed Man” Defense: How Courts Should Deal With Mccoy Defendants, Farid Seyyedi

St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics

The Supreme Court’s opinion in McCoy v. Louisiana held that a defendant has a constitutional right to insist their attorney not concede guilt as to any element of an offense, even if doing so is the only reasonable trial strategy to give the defendant a chance at life imprisonment instead of the death penalty. Under McCoy’s holding, a defendant can insist on maintaining their innocence—even in the face of overwhelming evidence—and force their attorney to pursue a defense that will land them on death row. The Supreme Court’s holding makes clear that a strategic concession of guilt at trial—over …


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.


Racial Bias Still Exists In Criminal Justice System? A Review Of Recent Empirical Research, Yu Du Jan 2021

Racial Bias Still Exists In Criminal Justice System? A Review Of Recent Empirical Research, Yu Du

Touro Law Review

The debate on whether racial bias is still embedded in the criminal justice (CJ) system today has reached its plateau. One recent article in the Washington Post has claimed an overwhelming evidence of racial bias in the CJ system. Whereas some scholars argue that racial disparity is an epitome of real crime rates, others indicate that implicit and/or explicit racial bias against Blacks held by law enforcement agents persists in the system. This review considers both supporting arguments and relevant counterarguments. After evaluating empirical and rigorous research during the past five years, the review maintains that racial bias still exists …


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.


Why Justice Kavanaugh Should Continue Justice Kennedy’S Death Penalty Legacy—Next Step: Expanding Juvenile Death Penalty Ban, Alli Katzen Apr 2020

Why Justice Kavanaugh Should Continue Justice Kennedy’S Death Penalty Legacy—Next Step: Expanding Juvenile Death Penalty Ban, Alli Katzen

University of Miami Law Review

As science and society both progress, Supreme Court rulings should reflect those changes. The national consensus has been gradually moving away from the use of the death penalty, particularly as applied to offenders between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five. Research clarifies that the brain is not fully developed in the areas most directly linked to culpability until after this age range. The combination of these factors should compel the Court to raise the minimum age for death sentences, but the shifting bench presents unpredictability


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.


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 …


The Central Park Five As “Discrete And Insular” Minorities Under The Equal Protection Clause: The Evolution Of The Right To Counsel For Wrongfully Convicted Minors, Todd K. Beharry Jan 2020

The Central Park Five As “Discrete And Insular” Minorities Under The Equal Protection Clause: The Evolution Of The Right To Counsel For Wrongfully Convicted Minors, Todd K. Beharry

Journal of Race, Gender, and Ethnicity

No abstract provided.