What's New

NEW VOICES: Andrew Cuomo Calls for Reexamination of NY's Death Penalty

Posted: December 15, 2004
Andrew Cuomo (pictured), who served as U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 1997 to 2001, recently urged New York lawmakers to put an end to the death penalty. The state is holding hearings on capital punishment in the wake of a N.Y. Court of Appeals decision finding the statute unconstitutional earlier this year. In his op-ed in The New York Times, Cuomo noted:

The Democrats, who control the Assembly, should make it clear that they will not pass a new death penalty law. This will take courage, but it


Posted: December 14, 2004
Read the Press Release. Copies may be obtained by contacting DPIC. The report will be posted on our Web site in the near future.

Supreme Court Clarifies the Application of Ineffective Assistance Of Counsel Standards

Posted: December 14, 2004
On December 13, 2004, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that the effectiveness of defense counsel's performance must be judged by standards previously set out by the Court in Strickland v. Washington. In Florida v. Nixon, Joe Nixon's attorney told the jury his client was guilty without his client's express consent. After the jury sentenced Nixon to death, the Florida Supreme Court overturned Nixon's conviction, holding that counsel's concession of guilt automatically fell below an objective standard of reasonable performance, necessitating a new

Supreme Court to Consider Impact of International Ruling in Death Penalty Cases

Posted: December 13, 2004
On December 10, 2004 (Human Rights Day), the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of Jose Medellin to determine what effect the United States should give to a recent ruling by the International Court of Justice at the Hague, the United Nations’ highest court. In the case of Medellin and 50 other Mexican nationals on death row, the World Court ruled that the U.S. failed to inform Mexico of their arrests, in violation of the 1963 Vienna

NEW RESOURCE: Center on Wrongful Convictions Examines "The Snitch System"

Posted: December 10, 2004

The Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law has released a new report entitled, The Snitch System: How Snitch Testimony Sent Randy Steidl and Other Innocent Americans to Death Row. The report highlights 51 cases of Americans who were wrongfully convicted and given death sentences based on the testimony of witnesses with incentives to lie. According to the Center, snitch testimony is the primary cause for approximately 45% of all wrongful capital convictions, making it the leading problem resulting in innocent people being sent to death row.


Chicago Tribune Investigation Concludes Texas May Have Executed Innocent Man

Posted: December 9, 2004
After examining evidence from the capital prosecution of Cameron Willingham (pictured), four national arson experts have concluded that the original investigation of Willingham's case was flawed and it is possible the fire was accidental. The independent investigation, reported by the Chicago Tribune, found that prosecutors and arson investigators used arson theories that have since been repudiated by scientific advances. Willingham was executed earlier this year in Texas despite his consistent claims of innocence. He was convicted of murdering his three

Texas Cases Draw Supreme Court Scrutiny

Posted: December 8, 2004
Three Texas death row appeals considered during the past year by the U.S. Supreme Court have resulted in sharp reversals, perhaps indicating an increasing impatience with two of the courts that handle death penalty cases from Texas: the Court of Criminal Appeals, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. In one of the Supreme Court opinions, the Court concluded that the Fifth Circuit was only "paying lip service to principles" of appellate law in issuing rulings with "no foundation in the decisions of this court," and in another opinion it found

NEW VOICES: New Jersey Governor Calls for Death Penalty Moratorium

Posted: December 7, 2004
New Jersey Governor Richard Codey (pictured) proposed a moratorium on executions until a study commission could determine whether the state's death penalty system is fair and cost effective. The governor announced his moratorium proposal as the legislature began considering a bill to initiate the study. "The governor does not think it makes sense to do a study without a moratorium. So he does support a moratorium right now, and he supports it for 18 months to two years," Codey's spokeswoman, Kelley Heck, stated. Codey, who is also President of the New Jersey Senate, called for the halt to

Last Six Executions for 2004 Given Stays

Posted: December 2, 2004
The last six executions scheduled for 2004 have all been granted stays by various courts and governors. Executions slated in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Texas, Maryland and North Carolina were halted for review of claims regarding possible innocence, mental disabilities, execution procedures, and other issues. The last execution occurred on November 17 in Texas. No other state has an execution scheduled for 2004. See Executions.

NEW RESOURCE: DPIC's Summary of the Innocence Protection Act of 2004

Posted: December 2, 2004
DPIC has prepared a summary of the Innocence Protection Act of 2004, which became law on October 30, 2004 as part of the Justice for All Act. The law provides rules and procedures for federal inmates applying for DNA testing, creates the Kirk Bloodsworth Post-Conviction DNA Testing Grant Program for state inmates applying for testing, and authorizes $25 million over five years to help states pay the cost of post-conviction DNA testing. Read DPIC's