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Texas Juvenile Pardoned After Faulty Lab Work Exposed

Posted: May 26, 2004
Texas Governor Rick Perry has issued a pardon on the basis of innocence to Josiah Sutton, a juvenile offender who had served four years of a 25-year prison term before new DNA tests proved his innocence. The faulty DNA results used to convict Sutton in 1998 were processed by the now thoroughly discredited Houston Police Department crime lab, the same facility that processed DNA and other forensic evidence used in cases that have resulted in death sentences. The lab was shut down in 2003 after questions about the quality and


Posted: May 26, 2004
Maryland prosecutors used the same DNA evidence that freed Kirk Bloodsworth (pictured) from Maryland’s death row to secure a life-in-prison sentence for Kimberly Shay Ruffner, the man who has now confessed to the 1984 murder of Dawn Hamilton. Bloodsworth spent years on death row for the rape and murder of Hamilton before DNA evidence conclusively showed that he could not have committed the crime. In 1993, he became the first death row inmate in the country to be freed on the basis of DNA testing. Despite the fact

Insistence on the Death Penalty May Interfere with Trial for Saddam Hussein

Posted: May 25, 2004
Great Britain may refuse to hand over evidence of Saddam Hussein’s crimes to Iraqi prosecutors or permit government staff to testify against the former dictator because of the nation’s opposition to the death penalty. Despite human rights objections from British officials who helped establish the special tribunal that will try Hussein and other senior members of his regime, Iraqis have insisted that capital punishment remain a sentencing option for some crimes. Coalition forces have suspended the

Supreme Court Unanimously Allows Lethal Injection Procedure Challenge to Continue

Posted: May 24, 2004
The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that an Alabama death row inmate could pursue his claim that the lethal injection procedures in his case constitute cruel and unusual punishment. David Nelson, who was less than three hours away from his scheduled execution last fall when the Supreme Court gave him a temporary reprieve, had filed a claim under section 1983 of the Civil Rights Law stating that his damaged veins would make it impossible to insert an intravenous line without cutting deep into

POSSIBLE INNOCENCE: Former Massachusetts Death Row Inmate Released After 30 Years in Prison

Posted: May 21, 2004
Laurence Adams, who was sentenced to death in Massachusetts in 1974 shortly before the state finally abandoned capital punishment, was released on May 20 after spending three decades of his life in prison. In April 2004, a judge overturned Adams’ conviction when new evidence, including conflicting statements from the state’s star witness and a statement from a witness who said two other people committed the murder, cast doubt on his guilt. Superior Court Judge Robert A. Mulligan said that he vacated the conviction to “avoid a

PUBLIC OPINION: North Carolinians Support Death Penalty Moratorium

Posted: May 20, 2004
An April 2004 poll of North Carolinians revealed that 63% of respondents support a halt to executions while the state’s death penalty is studied, and many respondents have doubts about the accuracy of the death penalty. “Support for the two-year suspension of executions is widespread and cuts across all demographic groups, regions of the state and political party affiliation. This is clearly an issue that resonates with the people of North Carolina,” stated John Doble, founder of Doble Research Associations, the national

San Francisco Voters Back DA's Decision to Not Seek Death Sentence

Posted: May 19, 2004
Both city voters and the Bar Association of San Francisco have voiced support for San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris’ decision to not seek the death penalty in the case against David Hill, who is accused of killing city police officer Isaac Espinoza. A recent poll found that 70% of respondents backed Harris’ decision, while only 22% opposed the choice and 8% remained undecided. The poll also found that 65% of those surveyed gave Harris’ overall performance as District Attorney favorable marks. Harris ran for office as an opponent of

Scott Turow's Reversible Errors Debuts This Weekend

Posted: May 19, 2004

A television mini-series based on the fiction novel Reversible Errors, a best-selling book by award- winning author and capital defense attorney Scott Turow, began on CBS on Sunday May 23, and will conclude Tuesday May 25, 2004. In the film, a corporate lawyer is assigned to draft the final

Texas Board Recommends Clemency on Eve of Execution

Posted: May 18, 2004
On the eve of the Kelsey Patterson's scheduled execution in Texas, the state’s Board of Pardons and Paroles voted 5-1 to recommend that Governor Rick Perry commute Patterson’s death sentence to life in prison. In its rare recommendation for clemency, the Board noted that if Governor Perry refuses to grant clemency, Patterson, a mentally ill man who is scheduled to be executed on Tuesday, May 18th, should receive a 120-day reprieve. The Board’s actions mark the first time in more than two decades that members

Oklahoma Governor Grants Clemency to Mexican Foreign National

Posted: May 14, 2004
Just days before the scheduled execution of Osvaldo Torres, a Mexican foreign national on Oklahoma’s death row, Governor Brad Henry granted a request for clemency in part because of a recent International Court of Justice decision ordering the United States to review the cases of 51 Mexican foreign nationals on death row because they were denied their right to seek consular assistance following their arrest. Henry’s announcement came just hours after the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals decided to stay Torres’ execution and order a