DPIC commemorates Black History Month 2017.Each weekday during the month, DPIC will post a new infographic on race and the death penalty on our Facebook and Twitter pages. You can see the entire 2017 Black History Monthy Infographic Series here as it unfolds.
NEW DISCUSSIONS WITH DPIC PODCAST: Innocence and Prosecutorial Misconduct, with Delaware death-row exoneree Isaiah McCoy and his lawyers Michael Wiseman and Herbert Mondros.
NEWS (2/21): The U.S. Supreme Court has issued rulings declining to review a number of pending death penalty cases. These included decisions, over the dissents of Justices Sotomayor and Breyer, not to review Arthur v. Dunn, No. 16–602, and Johnson v. Kelley, No. 16-6496, which challenged lethal injection practices in Alabama and Arkansas, respectively. The Court also declined to review the cases of South Carolina death-row prisoner Mikal Mahdi and Virginia death-row prisoner William Morva.
NEWS (2/20): The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that prosecutors may seek the death penalty in pending capital trials under the state's unconstitutional death penalty statute, if jurors are instructed that they must unanimously find all facts that make the defendant eligible for the death penalty and that they must be unanimous in recommending death before the trial court can impose the death penalty. The ruling came in the cases of Patrick Albert Evans and Juan Rosario.
LEGISLATIVE ACTIVITY IN THE STATES. There was extensive death penalty legislative activity in the states as legislatures considered bills introduced at the beginning of their 2017 legislative sessions. Here are some highlights. For more details see DPIC's webpage on Recent Legislative Activity.
NEWS (2/16): By a vote of 10-2, the Alabama House Judiciary Committee favorably reported from committee HB 32, which would abolish judicial override of jury recommendations for life and require a unanimous jury recommendation for death before a trial judge could impose the death penalty. On February 8, the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee approved SB 16, which would eliminate judicial override.
NEWS (2/16): By a unanimous 14-0 vote, the Criminal Justice Subcommittee of the Florida House Judiciary Committee recommended passage of HB 527, which would require a unanimous jury recommendation for death before a trial judge could impose the death penalty. The bill is scheduled for consideration by the full committee on February 21. A similar bill, SB 280, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 6 by a vote of 6-0 and is scheduled for consideration by the Senate Rules Committee on February 22.
NEWS (2/16): The Oklahoma House of Representatives voted 74-22 to pass HB 1679, which would establish the following hierarchy of execution methods: 1. lethal injection; 2. nitrogen hypoxia; 3. firing squad; 4. any other method not prohibited by the U.S. Constitution.
NEWS (2/15): After holding hearings on SB 17-095, which would repeal the death penalty for offenses committed after July 1, 2017, the Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee voted 3-2 to defeat the bill. The vote effectively ends death penalty repeal efforts in the state for the current legislative session.
NEWS (2/13): The South Dakota House State Affairs Committee rejected by a vote of 8-4 HB 1099, which would have prohibited imposing the death penalty "upon any person with a severe mental illness with significantly impaired capacity at the time the offense was committed."
NEWS (2/15): Prosecutors in Cook County (Chicago), Illinois have dropped all charges against four men wrongly convicted in a 1995 double murder. They had capitally prosecuted one of the four, Charles Johnson, who was sentenced to life in prison after the jury spared him the death penalty.
NEWS (2/13): The Florida Attorney General's Office has asked the United States Supreme Court to review the decision of the Florida Supreme Court in Hurst v. State declaring that the state's practice of permitting judges to impose death sentences after one or more sentencing jurors had voted for life was unconstitutional. The state's petition for writ of certiorari must overcome a threshold question of whether it is reviewable by the federal courts at all, given that the state court also based its ruling on independent state constitutional grounds.
NEWS (2/10): The Montana House Judiciary Committee voted 10-9 to table a bill to repeal the state's death penalty. The bill effectively ends repeal efforts in the state for the current legislative session.
NEWS (2/10): Ohio has issued new execution dates delaying the scheduled executions of eight death-row prisoners as it continues to appeal a federal magistrate judge's ruling declaring the state's lethal injection process unconstitutional. See Upcoming Executions.
NEWS (2/9): In separate lawsuits brought by former death-row prisoners Craig Williams and Shawn Walker, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has ruled that Pennsylvania may not house capital defendants whose death sentences have been overturned and who are awaiting retrial or resentencing as though they are still death row prisoners subject to automatic solitary confinement.
NEWS (2/9): The Florida Supreme Court has decided three more death penalty cases raising questions concerning the applicability of the court's determination that the state's death sentencing practices are unconstitutional, overturning one death sentences and affirming two others. The court granted a new sentencing hearing to Rasheem Dubose, who had been sentenced to death despite the votes of 4 jurors that he be sentenced to life. The court affirmed the death sentence imposed on Enoch Hall, whose jury had unanimously recommended death, and Brett Bogle, who had two non-unanimous jury recommendations for death, but whose appeal, the court said, became final too soon.
DPIC 2016 Year End Report
DPIC Podcast Series: We have begun a new set of podcasts on the death penalty in each state, each with interesting historical facts. The following are now available: Michigan, Wisconsin, Maine, Minnesota, North Dakota, Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Vermont, Massachusetts, District of Columbia, Rhode Island, and New Jersey. Check out our podcasts now! Also listen to DPIC's podcasts on death penalty issues.