What's New

NEW RESOURCE: Law Review Examines Race and the Death Penalty

Posted: August 19, 2004
The Summer 2004 DePaul Law Review contains presentations and articles from the University's two-day "Race to Execution" Symposium, an event that featured remarks and presentations from some of the nation's most renowned death penalty experts. This law review examines the role that race has historically had and continues to play in our nation's death penalty debate. Among the articles are presentations examining the racial bias in capital sentencing, how implicit racial attitudes of capital litigators impact trials, race and the federal death penalty,

NEW RESOURCE: Law, Psychology, and Death Penalty Litigation

Posted: August 18, 2004
Professor James R. Eisenberg's new book, "Law, Psychology, and Death Penalty Litigation," provides a thorough introduction to the role that forensic psychology plays in capital trials. Using a step-by-step approach that covers the historical and current legal context of capital punishment, Eisenberg describes the various tasks that might confront the forensic psychologist in a death penalty trial, including issues of competency to be executed, mental retardation, risk assessment, and related ethical dilemmas. Eisenberg, an award-winning Professor of Psychology

Editorial Urges New York Legislators to Abandon Death Penalty

Posted: August 17, 2004
A recent Albany Times Union editorial called on state legislators to abandon attempts to reinstate New York's death penalty, which the state's highest court found unconstitutional because the statute's jury instructions could be coercive. The June 24th New York Court of Appeals ruling in People v. Stephen LaValle spurred proposed legislation to remedy the statute. Some legal critics who have examined the new bill say that it may also be unconstitutional. The editorial echoed this sentiment, noting:

"The wonder is that it took the Court of Appeals nine years to strike

NEW RESOURCE: Jurors' Stories of Death

Posted: August 12, 2004
In his new book "Jurors' Stories of Death: How America's Death Penalty Invests in Inequality," author Benjamin Fleury-Steiner draws on real-life accounts of white and black jurors in capital trials to discuss the effect of race on the sentencing process. Through his survey of the jurors' experiences, he reveals that race is often a factor in sentencing and that the U.S. justice system can foster an "us versus them" mentality among jurors serving in capital trials. Fleury-Steiner finds that the the jurors, who frequently view

NEW VOICES: Maryland Families Urge Prosecutor to End Death Penalty Bid

Posted: August 10, 2004
Expressing their desire to end emotionally straining court proceedings, the families of Maryland murder victims Betina "Kristi" Gentry and Cynthia V. Allen recently urged Anne Arundel County's top prosecutor to end his 3rd attempt to get a death sentence for the man accused of killing the two women 10 years ago. "They've been through so much. I can't look them in the eye and say, 'Nah, you have to relive it again.' I can't do that," said State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee after agreeing to seek a sentence of life without parole instead of a capital

NEW VOICES: Massachusetts DA Asks that the Death Penalty Be Avoided

Posted: August 10, 2004
Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley has sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft requesting that the Justice Department not seek the death penalty for a Dorchester drug dealer charged with murdering a rival. Ashcroft has indicated that the 25-year-old defendant, Brima Wurie, could be a candidate for the federal death penalty. Conley believes a federal death penalty case against Wurie would alienate community leaders whose assistance has been a valuable part of efforts to eliminate violence in Boston. "The

Houston Crime Lab Scandal Escalates

Posted: August 10, 2004
The possible exoneration of a man convicted of rape in 1987 has led investigators of the Houston police department crime laboratory to conclude that the lab's reliability crisis may be worse than was first anticipated. This revelation could lead to re-testing of evidence in thousands of additional cases from the past 25 years. Six independent forensic scientists said that a crime laboratory official either lacked the basic knowledge of blood typing or knowingly gave false testimony leading to the conviction of George Rodriguez for rape nearly two decades ago. Rodriguez's case led


Posted: August 9, 2004
Jefferson Parish prosecutors today dismissed all charges against former Louisiana death row inmate Ryan Matthews. He became the nation’s 115th death row inmate to be freed according to the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC). Matthews was sentenced to die in 1999 and spent nearly five years on death row before DNA evidence helped clear him of a murder that occurred just two weeks after his 17th birthday. (The U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether death sentences for 16- or 17-year-olds are constitutional in October.)


ABC's "In the Jury Room" Debuts With Death Penalty Case

Posted: August 9, 2004

ABC-TV begins a new six-part documentary series "In the Jury Room" on Tuesday, August 10 (10 PM Eastern time), with a first-hand look at a death penalty deliberation. Narrated by senior legal correspondent Cynthia McFadden (pictured), the debut captures the deliberations of twelve jurors selected to decide the capital murder case against Ohio defendant Mark Ducic. The program allows the audience to see jurors struggling through the clashes that often accompany death penalty deliberations. "It's fascinating stuff, particularly when the focus latches onto a lone


NEW VOICES: Time to Review the Costs of the Death Penalty

Posted: August 9, 2004
A recent San Jose Mercury News editorial recommended including the death penalty in the California Performance Review prepared for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to reduce public spending. The paper stated that the abandonment of capital punishment would save valuable taxpayer dollars in the state and praised local efforts to support a temporary halt to executions while capital punishment is reviewed. The editorial noted:

Termination of the death penalty would add immeasurably to the $32 billion in savings projected if all of the