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Full-Text Articles in Law

Take The Motherless Children Off The Street: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome And The Criminal Justice System, Michael L. Perlin, Heather Ellis Cucolo Apr 2023

Take The Motherless Children Off The Street: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome And The Criminal Justice System, Michael L. Perlin, Heather Ellis Cucolo

Articles & Chapters

Remarkably, there has been minimal academic legal literature about the interplay between fetal alcohol syndrome disorder (FASD) and critical aspects of many criminal trials, including issues related to the role of experts, quality of counsel, competency to stand trial, the insanity defense, and sentencing and the death penalty. Nor has there been any literature about the interplay between FASD-related issues and the legal school of thought known as therapeutic jurisprudence.

In this article, the co-authors will first define fetal alcohol syndrome and explain its significance to the criminal justice system. We will then look at the specific role of experts …


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.


Getting To Death: Race And The Paths Of Capital Cases After Furman, Jeffrey A. Fagan, Garth Davies, Ray Paternoster Jan 2022

Getting To Death: Race And The Paths Of Capital Cases After Furman, Jeffrey A. Fagan, Garth Davies, Ray Paternoster

Faculty Scholarship

Decades of research on the administration of the death penalty have recognized the persistent arbitrariness in its implementation and the racial inequality in the selection of defendants and cases for capital punishment. This Article provides new insights into the combined effects of these two constitutional challenges. We show how these features of post-Furman capital punishment operate at each stage of adjudication, from charging death-eligible cases to plea negotiations to the selection of eligible cases for execution and ultimately to the execution itself, and how their effects combine to sustain the constitutional violations first identified 50 years ago in Furman …


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.


"Man Is Opposed To Fair Play": An Empirical Analysis Of How The Fifth Circuit Has Failed To Take Seriously Atkins V. Virginia, Michael L. Perlin, Talia Roitberg Harmon, Sarah Wetzel Jan 2021

"Man Is Opposed To Fair Play": An Empirical Analysis Of How The Fifth Circuit Has Failed To Take Seriously Atkins V. Virginia, Michael L. Perlin, Talia Roitberg Harmon, Sarah Wetzel

Articles & Chapters

In 2002, for the first time, in Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002), the United States Supreme Court found that it violated the Eighth Amendment to subject persons with intellectual disabilities to the death penalty. Since that time, it has returned to this question multiple times, clarifying that inquiries into a defendant’s intellectual disability (for purposes of determining whether he is potentially subject to the death penalty) cannot be limited to a bare numerical “reading” of an IQ score, and that state rules based on superseded medical standards created an unacceptable risk that a person with intellectual disabilities could …


Getting To Know You: An Expanded Approach To Capital Jury Selection, Samuel P. Newton Jan 2021

Getting To Know You: An Expanded Approach To Capital Jury Selection, Samuel P. Newton

Articles

The Colorado Method of capital jury selection is a widely embraced strategy defense attorneys use to select jurors during voir dire, in which attorneys rank each juror exclusively on the likelihood that the juror will vote for death. The method could benefit from some expansion. Not all defense lawyers have access to Colorado-Method-based training. In innocence cases, defense lawyers should soften discussions of punishment prior to guilt since this tactic predisposes juries to vote for death. Nor do jurors' views or positions on the death penalty guarantee their eventual votes. While capital juries are already inclined to give death sentences …


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 …


A World Of Steel-Eyed Death: An Empirical Evaluation Of The Failure Of The Strickland Standard To Ensure Adequate Counsel To Defendants With Mental Disabilities Facing The Death Penalty, Michael L. Perlin, Talia Roitberg Harmon, Sarah Chatt Jan 2019

A World Of Steel-Eyed Death: An Empirical Evaluation Of The Failure Of The Strickland Standard To Ensure Adequate Counsel To Defendants With Mental Disabilities Facing The Death Penalty, Michael L. Perlin, Talia Roitberg Harmon, Sarah Chatt

Articles & Chapters

Anyone who has been involved with death penalty litigation in the past four decades knows that one of the most scandalous aspects of that process—in many ways, the most scandalous—is the inadequacy of counsel so often provided to defendants facing execution. By now, virtually anyone with even a passing interest is well versed in the cases and stories about sleeping lawyers, missed deadlines, alcoholic and disoriented lawyers, and, more globally, lawyers who simply failed to vigorously defend their clients. This is not news.

And, in the same vein, anyone who has been so involved with this area of law and …


Taking Psychological Torture Seriously: The Torturous Nature Of Credible Death Threats And The Collateral Consequences For Capital Punishment, John Bessler Jan 2019

Taking Psychological Torture Seriously: The Torturous Nature Of Credible Death Threats And The Collateral Consequences For Capital Punishment, John Bessler

All Faculty Scholarship

This article explores how the death penalty and the indefinite nature of death row in the United States creates a constant threat of death, which can violate the United Nations Convention Against Torture’s prohibitions on death threats.


Virtual Life Sentences: An Exploratory Study, Jessica S. Henry, Christopher Salvatore, Bai-Eyse Pugh Apr 2018

Virtual Life Sentences: An Exploratory Study, Jessica S. Henry, Christopher Salvatore, Bai-Eyse Pugh

Department of Justice Studies Faculty Scholarship and Creative Works

Virtual life sentences are sentences with a term of years that exceed an individual’s natural life expectancy. This exploratory study is one of the first to collect data that establish the existence, prevalence, and scope of virtual life sentences in state prisons in the United States. Initial data reveal that more than 31,000 people in 26 states are serving virtual life sentences for violent and nonviolent offenses, and suggest racial disparities in the distribution of these sentences. This study also presents potential policy implications and suggestions for future research.


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 Death Penalty As Incapacitation, Marah S. Mcleod Jan 2018

The Death Penalty As Incapacitation, Marah S. Mcleod

Journal Articles

Courts and commentators give scant attention to the incapacitation rationale for capital punishment, focusing instead on retribution and deterrence. The idea that execution may be justified to prevent further violence by dangerous prisoners is often ignored in death penalty commentary. The view on the ground could not be more different. Hundreds of executions have been premised on the need to protect society from dangerous offenders. Two states require a finding of future dangerousness for any death sentence, and over a dozen others treat it as an aggravating factor that turns murder into a capital crime.

How can courts and commentators …


Remedial Reading: Evaluating Federal Courts’ Application Of The Prejudice Standard In Capital Sentences From “Weighing” And “Non-Weighing” States, Sarah Gerwig-Moore Jan 2018

Remedial Reading: Evaluating Federal Courts’ Application Of The Prejudice Standard In Capital Sentences From “Weighing” And “Non-Weighing” States, Sarah Gerwig-Moore

Articles

On March 31, 2016, the State of Georgia executed my client, Joshua Bishop. Until the time of his execution, several successive legal teams challenged his conviction and sentence through the usual channels: direct appeal, state habeas corpus proceedings, and federal habeas corpus proceedings. The last hearing on the merits of his case was before a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which accepts appeals from death penalty cases out of Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. In a lengthy opinion describing the many mitigating circumstances present in Mr. Bishop’s case, the Eleventh Circuit denied relief. This …


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 …


If It Walks Like Systematic Exclusion And Quacks Like Systematic Exclusion: Follow-Up On Removal Of Women And African-Americans In Jury Selection In South Carolina Capital Cases, 1997-2014, Ann M. Eisenberg, Amelia Courtney Hritz, Caisa Elizabeth Royer, John H. Blume Apr 2017

If It Walks Like Systematic Exclusion And Quacks Like Systematic Exclusion: Follow-Up On Removal Of Women And African-Americans In Jury Selection In South Carolina Capital Cases, 1997-2014, Ann M. Eisenberg, Amelia Courtney Hritz, Caisa Elizabeth Royer, John H. Blume

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

This Article builds on an earlier study analyzing bases and rates of removal of women and African-American jurors in a set of South Carolina capital cases decided between 1997 and 2012. We examine and assess additional data from new perspectives in order to establish a more robust, statistically strengthened response to the original research question: whether, and if so, why, prospective women and African-American jurors were disproportionately removed in different stages of jury selection in a set of South Carolina capital cases.

The study and the article it builds on add to decades of empirical research exploring the impacts (or …


When Empathy Bites Back: Cautionary Tales From Neuroscience For Capital Sentencing, Sheri Lynn Johnson, Amelia Courtney Hritz, Caisa Elizabeth Royer, John H. Blume Nov 2016

When Empathy Bites Back: Cautionary Tales From Neuroscience For Capital Sentencing, Sheri Lynn Johnson, Amelia Courtney Hritz, Caisa Elizabeth Royer, John H. Blume

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The neuroscience of empathy provides one more reason to believe that the decision to sentence another human being to death is inevitably an arbitrary one, and one that cannot be divorced from either race or caprice. While we can tinker with aspects of capital trials that exacerbate caprice and discrimination stemming from empathy, we cannot alter basic neural responses to the pain of others and therefore cannot rationalize (in either sense of the word) empathic responses.


Justice Scalia’S Originalism And Formalism: The Rule Of Criminal Law As A Law Of Rules, Stephanos Bibas Aug 2016

Justice Scalia’S Originalism And Formalism: The Rule Of Criminal Law As A Law Of Rules, Stephanos Bibas

All Faculty Scholarship

Far too many reporters and pundits collapse law into politics, assuming that the left–right divide between Democratic and Republican appointees neatly explains politically liberal versus politically conservative outcomes at the Supreme Court. The late Justice Antonin Scalia defied such caricatures. His consistent judicial philosophy made him the leading exponent of originalism, textualism, and formalism in American law, and over the course of his three decades on the Court, he changed the terms of judicial debate. Now, as a result, supporters and critics alike start with the plain meaning of the statutory or constitutional text rather than loose appeals to legislative …


Humane Proposals For Swift And Painless Death, Bryce Buchmann Mar 2016

Humane Proposals For Swift And Painless Death, Bryce Buchmann

Law Student Publications

This comment will provide reasons why lethal injection is not the appropriate method of execution in the United States, discuss factors that should be considered in selecting a method of execution and conclude that several alternative methods of punishment are preferable to lethal injection. Part I of this comment will detail the history of lethal injection in the United States and the issues associated with the practice. Part II examines how the government determines which method of execution is appropriate. Finally, Part III provides proposals for more humane punishment and concludes the comment.


Muscle Memory And The Local Concentration Of Capital Punishment, Lee B. Kovarsky Jan 2016

Muscle Memory And The Local Concentration Of Capital Punishment, Lee B. Kovarsky

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


Forty Years Of Death: The Past, Present, And Future Of The Death Penalty In South Carolina (Still Arbitrary After All These Years), John H. Blume, Lindsey S. Vann Jan 2016

Forty Years Of Death: The Past, Present, And Future Of The Death Penalty In South Carolina (Still Arbitrary After All These Years), John H. Blume, Lindsey S. Vann

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Forty years ago, the Supreme Court of the United States deemed constitutional new death penalty laws intended to minimize the arbitrariness which led the Court to invalidate all capital sentencing statutes four years earlier in Furman v. Georgia. Over the last four decades the Court has — time and again — attempted to regulate the “machinery of death.” Looking back over the Court’s work, many observers, including two current Supreme Court justices, have questioned whether the modern death penalty has lived up to expectations set by the Court in the 1970s or if, despite 40 years of labor, the American …


The Twilight Zone: Perspectives From A Man On Death Row, Leah Stiegler Jan 2015

The Twilight Zone: Perspectives From A Man On Death Row, Leah Stiegler

Law Student Publications

This interview was conducted through a series of written correspondences between Gerald Dean Cruz and Leah Stiegler, the Allen Chair Editor for Volume 49 of the University of Richmond Law Review. This exchange was reproduced, in excerpts, for the sole purpose of giving readers a rare glimpse into the perspective of a death row inmate.


A Survey Of The History Of The Death Penalty In The United States, Sheherezade C. Malik, D. Paul Holdsworth Jan 2015

A Survey Of The History Of The Death Penalty In The United States, Sheherezade C. Malik, D. Paul Holdsworth

Law Student Publications

Since the founding of Jamestown Colony in 1607, few topics in American life and culture have generated as much controversy, both in terms of persistence and volatility, as the death penalty. Foreign policy, economic recessions, and social movements come to the forefront of national discussion in their own respective ebbs and flows. Capital punishment, however, has been a staple of the American criminal justice system since the early inhabiting of the continent, and has remained a permanent vehicle through which we can enact retribution on the most heinous criminal offenders in our society, ridding ourselves of the worst among us.


A Shot In The Dark: Why Virginia Should Adopt The Firing Squad As Its Primary Method Of Execution, P. Thomas Distanislao, Iii Jan 2015

A Shot In The Dark: Why Virginia Should Adopt The Firing Squad As Its Primary Method Of Execution, P. Thomas Distanislao, Iii

Law Student Publications

This comment recommends that Virginia cease its use of lethal injection because of its high botch rates and growing impracticability due to drug shortages. Instead, the Commonwealth should use the firing squad as a more effective means of execution, thereby leading the nation in a transition towards a more efficient and reliable method.


Making Sure We Are Getting It Right: Repairing "The Machinery Of Death" By Narrowing Capital Eligibility, Ann E. Reid Jan 2015

Making Sure We Are Getting It Right: Repairing "The Machinery Of Death" By Narrowing Capital Eligibility, Ann E. Reid

Law Student Publications

This comment argues that, starting with the framework of the federal system, there is a way to reconcile modern concerns about the death penalty with society's need for leverage over those criminals who truly are the worst of the worst-those who present grave threats to society even after incarceration. This reconciliation can be achieved by amending the Federal Death Penalty Act to require prosecutors to establish one additional element before they can secure a capital conviction: future dangerousness of the defendant in prison..


Death As A Bargaining Chip: Plea Bargaining And The Future Of Virginia's Death Penalty, John G. Douglass Jan 2015

Death As A Bargaining Chip: Plea Bargaining And The Future Of Virginia's Death Penalty, John G. Douglass

Law Faculty Publications

Virginia now averages less than a single death sentence each year, a far cry from its not-too-distant history as the second most active death penalty state in the nation. The numbers alone tempt us to forecast the death of Virginia's death penalty: a death by disuse. But those numbers leave much of the story untold. The plummeting number of death sentences is only the diminishing tip of a larger, more stable iceberg of capital case litigation. That iceberg is melting very slowly, if at all.


Advocacy As An Exercise In Virtue: Lawyering, Bad Facts, And Furman's High-Stakes Dilemma, Linda H. Edwards Jan 2015

Advocacy As An Exercise In Virtue: Lawyering, Bad Facts, And Furman's High-Stakes Dilemma, Linda H. Edwards

Scholarly Works

Two of the conversations benefitting most from Jack Sammons's scholarship are conversations about legal rhetoric and about virtue ethics. Legal rhetoric is the study of the conventions of legal argument, specifically, the art of identifying and evaluating the best available means of persuasion and implementing those means effectively in light of audience, purpose, and occasion. Virtue ethics approaches moral reflection by asking what sort of person a particular moral choice encourages the actor to become. It focuses on consequences to the moral agent herself rather than directly focusing on consequences to others. The goal is to become a virtuous person, …