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BREAKING NEWS (9/30): The Alabama Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the state's death penalty statute against a challenge that its judicial sentencing provisions violate the Sixth Amendment right to a jury determination of all facts necessary to impose the death penalty. The ruling came in the case of Jerry Bohannon v. State.
NEWS (9/23): The United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit voted 6-3 to overturn the conviction of Indiana death row prisoner Wayne Kubsch for a triple murder that occurred in 1988. The court ruled that prosecutors had unconstitutionally withheld an exculpatory videotaped police witness interview, which, if proven to be factually accurate, would demonstrate Kubsch's innocence.
NEWS (9/22): The Nevada Supreme Court has reversed a trial court's order dismissing a post-conviction appeal brought by death row prisoner Charles Robins. The court ruled that Robins had made a sufficient factual showing of his innocence to entitle him to an evidentiary hearing on his claim that prosecutors had threatened to take a witness's children away from her unless she testified against Robins and had told the witness what to say when she testified. Robins had presented medical evidence that the child he is accused of killing had actually died of scurvy and that x-rays of her broken leg showed break and healing patterns typical of cases of vitamin deficiencies associated with scurvy.
NEWS (9/21): September 21 marked the fifth anniversary of the execution of Troy Davis by the State of Georgia. Davis is one of at least 13 executed men who may have been innocent.
DPIC NEWS (9/16): In a ceremony at the Rayburn House Office Building honoring the service of African-American veterans and organizations whose work has provided services to veterans, DPIC was presented with a Congressional Black Caucus Veterans Braintrust Award. DPIC was honored for our report, Battle Scars: Military Veterans and the Death Penalty, which brought attention to the plight of military veterans with combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder who are on death rows across the United States.
NEWS (9/14): The Alabama Supreme Court has issued two death warrants, one scheduling the execution of Tommy Arthur for 11/3 and a second setting a 12/8 execution date for Ronald Bert Smith Jr. See Upcoming Executions.
NEWS (9/13): Former Delaware death-row prisoner Jermaine Wright, who was granted a new trial as a result of prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective representation, entered a no-contest plea to lesser charges and was set free by a Delaware state court. Wright's case presents a substantial claim of innocence.
NEWS (9/13): The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has upheld a lower federal court ruling denying a challenge to Texas's lethal injection procedures that had been brought by some of the state's death row prisoners. See Lethal Injection.
NEWS (9/9): Following a request from state officials and Missouri's anonymous execution drug supplier, the United States Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit has issued a stay of its prior order requiring the state to disclose the identity of the supplier, pending the court's reconsideration of the issue. The order to disclose information on how the state obtained pentobarbitol to carry out executions was issued in response to the state's efforts to quash a subpoena in a federal lawsuit brought by Mississippi death-row prisoners attempting to demonstrate that alternatives are available to the multi-drug protocol Mississippi specifies for use in its executions. See Lethal Injection.
NEWS (9/8): The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that Freddie Lee Hall has proven that he has Intellectual Disability (formerly known as mental retardation) and is not subject to the death penalty. The state court withdrew its prior ruling in the case and reconsidered Hall's claim in light of the 2014 U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Hall v. Florida that the state had unconstitutionally employed a fixed IQ cutoff score to reject Hall's claim that he had Intellectual Disability. See Intellectual Disability.
NEWS (9/2): By a vote of 5-4, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has granted a stay of execution to Robert Jennings pending further order of this Court.” Jennings was scheduled to be executed on September 14. It is the eighth consecutive Texas death warrant to have been stayed, withdrawn, or rescheduled. See Stays of Execution.
NEWS (9/2): The Kansas City-based United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has ruled that Missouri must provide Mississippi death-row prisoners with information relating to how it obtained pentobarbitol to carry out executions. The Mississippi prisoners sought the information as part of their challenge to their state's execution protocol. In that suit, they are required to prove that alternatives are available to the drugs Mississippi specifies for use in executions. See Lethal Injection.
NEWS (8/26): The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has granted a stay of execution to Ronaldo Ruiz pending further order by this Court." Ruiz was scheduled to be executed 8/31. More Texas executions have now been stayed or rescheduled in 2016 than have been carried out. See Stays of Execution.
NEWS (8/22): The California Supreme Court has overturned the death sentence imposed on Gary Grimes for a 1995 murder after the trial court had improperly prevented the defense from presenting a statement from the actual killer that he had acted alone. The court denied Grimes' claim that the statement also entitled him to a new trial.
BREAKING NEWS (8/19): The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has granted a stay of execution to Jeffery Wood to permit him to litigate his claims that his death sentence was the product of false scientific evidence and the prosecution's presentation of false psychiatric testimony asserting that he was certain to commit future acts of violence violated his right to due process. Wood had been scheduled to be executed on August 24.
NEWS (8/15): The Delaware Attorney General's office has announced that it will not appeal the state supreme court's decision in State v. Rauf declaring Delaware's capital sentencing scheme unconstitutional. State prosecutors say they will fight the retroactive application of the decision to the thirteen death row prisoners currently facing execution.
NEWS (8/15): The California Supreme Court voted unanimously to overturn the death sentence imposed on Sergio Dujuan Nelson for a 1993 murder, ruling that the trial judge had improperly permitted the the jurors to be questioned about their deliberations and removed one of the holdouts from the jury. It was the second time in a week that the court had overturned a death penalty verdict as a result of a judge improperly removing a juror who appeared to be favoring the defense. On 8/11 the court granted a new trial to Craigen Armstrong when the trial judge improperly removed a juror who had appeared to have reached the conclusion that Armstrong was not guilty, saying that the juror was refusing to deliberate.
NEW RESOURCES (8/9): DPIC has updated our state-by-state information pages to include links to a search of our innocence database for each of the 26 states that have had a death row exoneration since 1973.
NEW RESOURCES (8/5): DPIC has updated our state-by-state information pages to include graphics of each death penalty state's annual death sentences from 1977-2015. The graphics, which previously included data on sentencing between 1994-2012, have been expanded to include death sentences imposed from 1977-1993 and updated to include death sentences imposed in 2013-2015.
DPIC 2015 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.