NEWS (10/1/20) — Washington, D.C.: The federal government has scheduled an eighth execution for 2020, setting a November 19 execution date for Orlando Hall. Hall’s case would be the first federal execution in more than a half-century for the killing of an African-American victim and the second consecutive execution of an African-American prisoner after the executions of five white prisoners and the sole Native American on federal death row.

There are currently 55 prisoners on the federal death row, nearly two-thirds of whom are prisoners of color. 45% of federal death-row prisoners are Black.

Hall was sentenced to death by an all-white Texas federal jury for the drug-related 1994 kidnapping, rape, and murder of a 16-year-old girl. Five people were charged in the murder, and a co-defendant, Bruce Webster, was also sentenced to death. Webster’s death sentence was overturned in June 2019, finding that he is intellectually disabled. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed that ruling on September 22. Hall’s current lawyers allege that the Texas federal courts appointed ineffective lawyers to represent him at trial, who during jury selection “enlisted the help of a former state prosecutor known for keeping Black citizens from serving on criminal juries.” They further allege that trial counsel conducted no meaningful investigation into mitigating circumstances in his case and failed to present evidence of extreme poverty and severe trauma Hall endured growing up.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ruled on April 22, 2020 that the United States had violated Hall’s human rights by denying him access to an effective remedy on his claim of racial discrimination and his rights to a fair trial and due process of law.


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Sources

David Holtzman, All charges dis­missed in mur­der case, The Central Virginian, October 1, 2020; Frank Green, Battle over court­room por­trait of Robert E. Lee renewed in Louisa County, The Free Lance-Star, September 32020.