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Death Penalty

Sep 8, 2015

Have mercy: State loses argument over jury instruction in death penalty cases

Spartanburg Circuit Judge Derham Cole now has the dubious distinction of being the first and last judge in South Carolina to dissuade jurors from considering mercy when deciding whether murderers should be sentenced to death. He had told jurors that they “may recommend a sentence of life imprisonment for any reason … other than as […]

Aug 14, 2015

Connecticut court strikes down state death penalty

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut’s highest court has struck down the state’s death penalty, sparing the lives of 11 killers on death row in a ruling that adds momentum to a nationwide movement to abolish executions. A 2012 state law repealed the death penalty for future crimes while preserving it for those already condemned to die, but the court ruled Thursday tha[...]

Jul 8, 2015

Criminal Practice — Death Penalty Upheld for Low-IQ Inmate

Prieto v. Zook, Warden (Lawyers Weekly No. 001-121-15, 18 pp.) (Motz, J.) No. 14-4, June 30, 2014; USDC at Richmond, Va. (Hudson, J.) 4th Cir. Holding: The 4th Circuit rejects a Virginia death-row inmate’s habeas claim that the Eighth Amendment prohibition on execution of intellectually disabled persons under Atkins v. Virginia and Hall v. Florida […]

Apr 16, 2015

Prosecutor: Death penalty doesn’t apply in police shooting

CHARLESTON (AP) — A prosecutor says it doesn’t look as if the death penalty can be sought in the case of a black South Carolina man who was fatally shot as he ran from a white police officer. Former North Charleston officer Michael Slager is charged with murder in the death of Walter Scott. The […]

Mar 18, 2015

Execution-drug seller bill introduced in SC House

COLUMBIA (AP) — Another bill that would shield the identities of pharmaceutical companies that supply execution drugs to South Carolina is being considered by the state Legislature. The House measure introduced Tuesday is a companion to a version already advancing in the Senate. The legislation would add drug companies to the state’s execution team and […]

Jan 23, 2015

A question of mercy

A Spartanburg trial judge’s unusual jury instruction concerning mercy during the sentencing phase of capital murder trials has prompted three appeals that are pending before the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Aug 13, 2014

Criminal Practice – No Rehearing in Death-Penalty Confrontation Clause Case

U.S. v. Umaña (Lawyers Weekly No. 001-160-14, 13 pp.) No. 10-6, Aug. 12, 2014; On Petition for Rehearing En Banc. 4th Cir. Holding: In a published order, the 4th Circuits denies rehearing en banc of its first-impression holding that the Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses does not apply during the sentence-selection phase of a capital murder trial, and […]

Jul 10, 2014

Criminal Practice – Court Must Review Juror Talk with Pastor

Barnes v. Joyner (Lawyers Weekly No. 14-01-0428, 87 pp.) (Thacker, J.) No. 13-5, May 5, 2014; USDC at Greensboro, N.C. (Schroeder, J.) 4th Cir. Holding: In this death penalty case from North Carolina, the 4th Circuit orders a district court to hold an evidentiary hearing on whether the state court’s failure to investigate an allegation […]

May 30, 2014

Texas’ top prosecutor: Drug source can be secret

DALLAS (AP) — Texas can keep secret the name of its supplier for its execution drugs, the state attorney general determined after law enforcement argued that suppliers face serious danger. In the decision, Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Office cited a “threat assessment” signed by Texas Department of Public Safety director Steven McCraw that says pharmacies […]

May 2, 2014

Drugs in botched Oklahoma execution leaked from IV

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Some of the three drugs used in a botched Oklahoma execution this week didn’t enter the inmate’s system because the vein they were injected into collapsed, and that failure wasn’t noticed for 21 minutes, the state’s prison chief said, urging changes to the state’s execution procedure. Medical officials tried for nearly […]

Apr 30, 2014

Man dies of heart attack after botched execution

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma prison officials halted an inmate’s execution after a new drug combination left the man writhing and clenching his teeth on the gurney. He later died of a heart attack. Clayton Lockett, 38, was declared unconscious 10 minutes after the first of three drugs in the state’s new lethal injection combination […]

Feb 13, 2014

Judge blocks sale of execution drug

A federal judge has temporarily blocked an Oklahoma pharmacy from providing an execution drug to the Missouri Department of Corrections for an upcoming lethal injection.

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