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Series

University of Baltimore Law

Capital punishment

Law Enforcement and Corrections

1996

Articles 1 - 1 of 1

Full-Text Articles in Law

The “Midnight Assassination Law” And Minnesota’S Anti-Death Penalty Movement, John Bessler Jan 1996

The “Midnight Assassination Law” And Minnesota’S Anti-Death Penalty Movement, John Bessler

All Faculty Scholarship

This article traces the history of Minnesota's anti-death penalty movement and the 1889 Minnesota law - dubbed by contemporaries as the "midnight assassination law" - requiring private, nighttime executions. That law, authored by Minnesota legislator John Day Smith, restricted the number of execution spectators, prohibited newspapers from printing any execution details, and provided that only the fact of the execution could be lawfully printed. Also commonly referred to as the "John Day Smith law," this Minnesota statute was challenged as being unconstitutional by Minnesota newspapers after those newspapers printed details of a botched hanging and were charged with violating the law ...