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INTERNATIONAL: Iran Poised to End Juvenile Death Penalty

Posted: October 29, 2004
According to an Iranian justice department spokesperson, the Iranian Parliament is expected to approve legislation that would end the death penalty for offenders under the age of 18. The measure would also prohibit lashings for those under 18. Under pressure from the European Union to reform its human rights record, Iran has had no recorded stonings since late 2002, and the parliament has enacted laws banning torture and the upholding of citizens' rights. (AFP, October 26, 2004). The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard the case of Roper v. Simmons that will

RELIGIOUS VIEWS: Catholic Bishops Oppose Expansion of Federal Death Penalty for Terrorism

Posted: October 29, 2004
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the Catholic Archbishop of Washington and acting as Chairman of the Domestic Policy Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has urged House and Senate conferees working on anti-terrorism legislation to report out a final bill that would not expand the federal death penalty for terrorists. McCarrick wrote a letter to House and Senate leaders crafting their final version of the National Intelligence Reform Act (S. 2845). The House version of that bill contains provisions to

Poll Finds Tepid Support for Death Penalty as State Sets Execution Date

Posted: October 29, 2004
As Maryland Circuit Court Judge Steven I. Platt signed a death warrant scheduling the execution of Heath W. Burch for the week of December 6, a Potomac Inc. poll of state residents revealed that only 53% support capital punishment. Burch has been on death row since 1996 and would be the first person since 1953 to be executed for a crime committed in Prince George's County. Experts predict that his execution would be met with resistance from county residents, 50% of whom oppose capital punishment according to the Potomac Inc. poll. Judge Platt also granted

Justice O'Connor Notes Importance of International Law

Posted: October 28, 2004
During a recent speech at Georgetown Law School, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor emphasized the growing importance of international law in U.S. courts, saying judges would be negligent if they disregarded its importance in a post-September 11th world of heightened tensions. O'Connor said the Supreme Court is taking cases that demand a better understanding of foreign legal systems, noting, "International law is no longer a specialty. ... It is vital if judges are to faithfully discharge their duties. Since September 11, 2001, we're reminded some

NEW VOICES: Texas Judge Calls for Halt to Executions

Posted: October 27, 2004
Judge Tom Price, a 30-year veteran Republican jurist on Texas's highest criminal court, recently stated that those on the state's death row convicted with evidence from the Houston Police Department crime lab should not be executed until questions about its work are resolved. Price called for a limited moratorium on executions, saying, "I think it would be prudent to delay further executions until we have had a chance to have this evidence independently verified. Once a death sentence is carried out, you cannot reverse that." The call came after Price

NEW RESOURCE: New Book Examines Flawed Texas Death Penalty

Posted: October 21, 2004
In "No Justice: No Victory - The Death Penalty in Texas," author Susan Lee Campbell Solar examines capital punishment in Texas through a political lens and with a concentration on cases and anecdotes that illustrate the systemic flaws she uncovered during her research. The book, completed by friends and family of the author after she died unexpectedly, features interviews with attorneys, judges and law professors, as well as with those on death row, their family members, and families of murder victims. She closely examines the cases of Gary Graham and Odell

Chicago Tribune Series Examines How Arson Myths May Lead to Wrongful Convictions

Posted: October 21, 2004
As part of its five-part series on forensic science and wrongful convictions, the Chicago Tribune examined how scientific developments in fire investigations have called into question crucial expert testimony in many cases, including some death penalty prosecutions. As a result of untested theories, shoddy analysis and a resistance to rigorous review, long-time arson investigators are now seeing their conclusions contradicted by colleagues who question the reliability of the folk wisdom that has dictated this profession for decades. What was once

NEW VOICES: California Bar Association Urges Death Penalty Moratorium

Posted: October 21, 2004
A group of 450 attorneys participating in the Conference of Delegates of the California Bar Association has urged a moratorium on the death penalty in California until the state reviews whether capital punishment laws are enforced fairly and uniformly. "If you make a mistake, it's not like you can go back and correct a mistake because the person is dead," said Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Danette Meyers, supporter of the measure and a member of the Bar Association that represents prosecutors, criminal defenders and civil

Many African Nations Abandoning Death Penalty

Posted: October 21, 2004
During the past 15 years, the number of African nations abandoning capital punishment has risen from one to 10, and another 10 nations have abolished the death penalty in practice according to a recent tally by Amnesty International. As this trend toward abolishing the death penalty continues, fewer Africans than ever are being executed by their governments. The anti-capital punishment movement has been especially powerful in West Africa, where the number of countries in the Economic Community of West African States that have either banned executions or halted them has

Chicago Tribune Investigates Forensic Science and Wrongful Convictions

Posted: October 19, 2004
A five-part Chicago Tribune investigation of forensics in the courtroom has revealed that flawed testing analysis, questionable science once considered reliable, and shoddy crime lab practices can often lead to wrongful convictions. Developments in DNA technology have helped shed new light on these problems by revealing the shaky scientific foundations of techniques like fingerprinting, firearm identification, arson investigation, and bite-mark comparison. A review of 200 DNA and death row exonerations nationwide in the last 20 years found that more than a quarter (55