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International Court Finds U.S. in Violation of Treaty

Posted: April 7, 2004


On March 31, 2004 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) decided in favor of Mexico, finding that the United States violated the rights of most of the 51 Mexican citizens currently on death row across the country. The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, which the U.S. has ratified, declares that foreign citizens shall have the right to speak with diplomatic

Death Penalty Often a Plea Bargaining Tool

Posted: April 7, 2004
An Associated Press analysis of the 334 capital indictments filed in Franklin County, Ohio, found that only 16 (5%) of the cases ended with a death sentence. Of those sentences, two have been reduced to life in prison without parole, one man died on the row, and two men were executed this year. Research shows that of the remaining Franklin County cases, 183 cases (55%) ended in plea agreements, and in 111 cases (33%) juries or three-judge panels convicted the offenders but did not sentence them to death. In 45 of those 111 cases, offenders

Expert Defense and Resources Make Difference Between Life and Death in Philadelphia

Posted: April 7, 2004
About half of Pennsylvania's death row of 240 inmates comes from Philadelphia. Yet in the 11 years that the Defender Association of Philadelphia has been handling capital cases, not one of their clients has been sentenced to death. The Defender Office handles one of every five capital cases in the city. The difference between life and death appears to rest with the quality of representation and often comes down to dollar and cents. “What is going on in Philadelphia is really a model example of what can

NEW RESOURCES: Amnesty International Issues Latest Report on Worldwide Executions

Posted: April 7, 2004
According to Amnesty International’s latest report on executions around the world, China, Iran, the United States, and Vietnam accounted for 84% of the 1,146 known executions carried out in 21 nations in 2003. China carried out at least 726 executions, Iran executed 108 people, the United States carried out 65 executions, and Viet Nam reported 64 executions last year. Among those executed in 2003 were two juvenile offenders, 1 in China and 1 in the United States. The report noted that 77 countries around the world

Kansas Turns to Death Penalty Alternative to Save Money

Posted: April 6, 2004
A bill establishing the sentencing option of life without parole in capital cases has been sent to Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius for signature into law. The state legislature passed the bipartisan measure in an attempt to curb costs associated with the death penalty. A legislative audit released in December 2003 found that the average cost of a death penalty case in Kansas is $1.2 million. An advisory group of judges and attorneys who studied the state’s death penalty law last year concluded that a life-without-parole sentence

California Considers Impact of International Court Ruling Regarding Mexican Foreign Nationals

Posted: April 5, 2004
Following an International Court of Justice decision that the U.S. violated the rights of 51 Mexican foreign nationals on death row and should reconsider their sentences and convictions, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer is seeking to determine how the Court’s ruling will impact the 28 Mexican foreign nationals on California’s death row. Of the 28 men awaiting execution, two are exempt from the ruling because they had dual citizenship or were advised of their rights under the 1963 Vienna Convention of Consular

World Court Rules that U.S. Violated Rights of Mexican Foreign Nationals on Death Row

Posted: March 31, 2004
The International Court of Justice ruled in favor of Mexico and found that the United States violated the rights of almost all of the Mexican foreign nationals on death row in the U.S. The World Court, which is the highest legal organ of the United Nations and is based in The Hague, has ordered that the Mexican cases be reviewed by U.S. courts. The defendants were not informed of their right to talk to consular officials after being arrested, as provided by the Vienna Convention on Consular Rights. “The remedy to make good these violations should

New Study from Texas Defender Service

Posted: March 31, 2004

Read Deadly Speculation - Misleading Texas Capital Juries with False Predictions of Future Dangerousness (PDF), a new report from the Texas Defender Service about the unreliability of future dangerousness predictions in Texas death penalty cases. Such speculative testimony is the key factor

New Study Points to Unreliability of Future Dangerousness Predictions in Texas

Posted: March 31, 2004
A new study conducted by the Texas Defender Service and Professor John Edens of Sam Houston State University found that state predictions of the future dangerousness of capital defendants were grossly inaccurate. The review examined the cases of 155 inmates in which prosecution expert witnesses had predicted the inmate would be a future danger to society and in which the state asked for the death penalty. However, only 8 (5%) of these inmates later engaged in any seriously assaultive behavior resulting in an injury requiring treatment of more than first-aid.

Federal Court Blocks Texas Death Sentence Over Racially Charged Testimony

Posted: March 30, 2004
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit has blocked a Texas District Attorney’s final attempt to restore the death sentence of Victor Hugo Saldano, who was removed from Texas’s death row in 2000 because of the use of racially charged testimony at his trial. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that former Texas Attorney General John Cornyn was right to dismiss Saldano’s death sentence because it was based on state testimony encouraging racial bias. During the penalty phase of Saldano’s 1996 trial, psychologist Walter Quijano told