On October 20, attorneys for Jeffrey Landrigan filed a clemency petition with the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency calling on the Board to recommend the commutation of Landrigan’s death sentence largely because of errors by his trial attorneys. Landrigan’s original attorneys failed to present mitigating evidence at the sentencing hearing, which could have included evidence of brain damage and severe abuse. Judge Cheryl Hendrix, the judge who imposed Landrigan’s death sentence, recently signed a declaration admitting that, if she knew about Landrigan’s background and brain damage, she would not have sentenced him to death. Judge Hendrix wrote, “Had the trial counsel presented any of the mitigating information I have received [since the sentencing trial] – which was available at the time of sentencing – Mr. Landrigan would not have been sentenced to death.” UPDATE: A U.S. District Court Judge has stayed Landrigan’s execution, forbidding the use of sodium thiopental in the lethal injection because the state has not adequately assured the court of the drug’s efficacy. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the stay. (Oct. 26, 2010). FURTHER UPDATE: The U.S. Supreme Court (5-4) lifted the stay of execution and Landrigan was executed late on Oct. 26.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that Landrigan’s trial counsel’s performance was deficient and that he was entitled to a hearing to prove the outcome of his sentencing would have been different if his counsel had been effective. This decision, however, was reversed in a close decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. Landrigan’s clemency petition also states that his death sentence was disproportionate to life sentences imposed in the state where the facts of the crime were much more heinous, and that his case is similar to others in which the Board has granted clemency in the past. Finally, new DNA tests indicate that blood and semen samples found at the crime scene are not a match to Landrigan, casting further doubt about his upcoming execution. The Arizona Board of Executive Clemency is scheduled to consider Landrigan’s petition on October 22. He is scheduled for execution on Tuesday, October 26, 2010.

(“Application for Executive Clemency for Jeffrey Timothy Landrigan,” October 20, 2010). See Arbitrariness, Clemency and Representation.