Entries tagged with “Law of Parties

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Feb 01, 2019

42 Years After Death Sentence, Federal Appeals Court Says Charles Ray Finch Actually Innocent’

A fed­er­al appeals court has found 80-year-old Charles Ray Finch (pic­tured) actu­al­ly inno­cent” of the mur­der for which he was con­vict­ed and sen­tenced to death in North Carolina 42 years ago. The pro­nounce­ment came in a unan­i­mous rul­ing issued by a three-judge pan­el of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on January 25, 2019. In that deci­sion, Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory wrote that Finch has over­come the exact­ing stan­dard for actu­al inno­cence through suf­fi­cient­ly alleg­ing and pro­vid­ing new evi­dence of a con­sti­tu­tion­al vio­la­tion and through demonstrating…

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Jul 26, 2019

ACLU Article Explores the Use of the Death Penalty Against Those Who Have Not Killed

The U.S. Supreme Court has said the death penal­ty must be reserved for the worst of the worst mur­ders and be imposed only on the worst of the worst offend­ers. But what of an accom­plice to a felony in which some­one was killed but the accom­plice nei­ther com­mit­ted the killing nor intend­ed that a killing would take place? Those co-defen­dants are not even the worst of the worst par­tic­i­pants in the offense for which they are charged. Yet, as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) report­ed on July 112019,…

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Representation

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Upcoming Executions

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Jun 05, 2020

As Federal Litigation Continues, Ruben Gutierrez Seeks Stay of Execution, Citing Concerns About Pandemic

Texas death-row pris­on­er Ruben Gutierrez (pic­tured) has asked the Texas state courts to stay his exe­cu­tion because of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic as fed­er­al lit­i­ga­tion con­tin­ues on his efforts to obtain DNA test­ing and to require Texas to per­mit him to have a chap­lain present in the exe­cu­tion cham­ber if his exe­cu­tion proceeds.

Facts & Research

Religion

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Upcoming Executions

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Sep 09, 2019

Coalition of Jewish Organizations Seeks New Trial for Jewish Death-Row Prisoner in Texas Tried by Anti-Semitic Judge

A coali­tion of nation­al and local Jewish orga­ni­za­tions and lawyers have asked the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to stop the sched­uled October 10, 2019 exe­cu­tion of a Jewish death-row pris­on­er to review his claim that the judge before whom he was tried was racist and anti-Semitic. Randy Halprin (pic­tured) was con­vict­ed and sen­tenced to death in a tri­al presided over by Dallas County Judge Vickers Cunningham, who referred to Halprin as a f***ing Jew” and a G*dd**n k**e” and called Halprin’s Latino co-defen­dants wetb***s.” On September 5, 2019, the…

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Clemency

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New Voices

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Aug 19, 2016

Diverse Range of Voices Call for Sparing Jeff Wood, Who Never Killed Anyone, from Execution in Texas

As his August 24 exe­cu­tion date approach­es, Jeffrey Woods case has gar­nered mount­ing atten­tion from groups and indi­vid­u­als call­ing on the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Gov. Greg Abbott to com­mute Wood’s sen­tence. These diverse voic­es include a con­ser­v­a­tive Texas state rep­re­sen­ta­tive, a group of evan­gel­i­cal lead­ers, and the edi­to­r­i­al boards of the New York Times, the Washington Post, and sev­er­al Texas news­pa­pers, among others.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Mental Illness

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Executions Overview

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Aug 30, 2019

DPIC Analysis: 13 Texas Death Warrants Raise Troubling Questions About U.S. Execution Practices

In a year in which few states have car­ried out any exe­cu­tions, the aggres­sive exe­cu­tion prac­tices of a sin­gle state — Texas — stand in sharp con­trast. The Lone Star State has sched­uled thir­teen exe­cu­tions for the last five months of 2019, more than the rest of the coun­try com­bined. And a DPIC review of the cir­cum­stances in which the war­rants were issued rais­es trou­bling ques­tions as to whether the state is exe­cut­ing the most moral­ly cul­pa­ble indi­vid­u­als for the worst of the worst crimes or the most vul­ner­a­ble prisoners…

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Aug 20, 2007

EDITORIAL: Paper Says Texas Man Sentenced Under Law of Parties” Should Not Be Executed

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram is urg­ing the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Texas Governor Rick Perry to spare the life of Kenneth Foster (pic­tured), whose exe­cu­tion is sched­uled for August 30. Foster was sen­tenced to death under the Texas Law of Parties that per­mits a per­son involved in a crime to be held account­able for the actions com­mit­ted by some­one else. In this case, Texas main­tains that Foster deserves the death penal­ty because he should have antic­i­pat­ed that a pas­sen­ger in his vehi­cle, Mauriceo Brown, would exit the…

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Apr 05, 2021

Federal Court Approves DNA Testing for Man Who Was Spared Execution by Texas’s Refusal to Allow Religious Adviser in Execution Chamber

A fed­er­al dis­trict court has ruled that Texas uncon­sti­tu­tion­al­ly denied DNA test­ing to a death-row pris­on­er who is alive today only because of a last-minute stay of exe­cu­tion grant­ed because the state refused to allow his reli­gious advis­er to accom­pa­ny him in the exe­cu­tion cham­ber. In a 26-page rul­ing issued on March 23, 2021, Judge Hilda Tagle of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas paved the way for Ruben Gutierrez (pic­tured) to obtain DNA test­ing that he argues will prove his inno­cence of the death penalty.…

Policy Issues

Mental Illness

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Crimes Punishable by Death

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Aug 22, 2008

Federal Judge Sharply Criticizes Texas System in Ordering Stay of Execution

Jeff Wood’s exe­cu­tion was stayed with only hours remain­ing by U.S. District Court Judge Orlando Garcia of San Antonio. The judge chas­tised the Texas courts for their refusal last week to hire men­tal health experts to deter­mine whether Wood (pic­tured) was insane or appoint a lawyer to rep­re­sent him for a com­pe­ten­cy hear­ing. The state courts had ruled that Wood had to show he was insane before they would appoint a lawyer and a psy­chol­o­gist to help prove he was insane. Judge Garcia’s opin­ion said such a sys­tem is absurd,…

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Crimes Punishable by Death

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Feb 15, 2019

He’s on California’s Death Row, But Demetrius Howard Never Killed Anyone

A February 4, 2019 arti­cle in the crim­i­nal jus­tice newslet­ter, The Appeal, fea­tures the case of Demetrius Howard, a California pris­on­er sen­tenced to death for a crime in which he didn’t kill any­one. Howard was sen­tenced to death in 1995 for his par­tic­i­pa­tion in a rob­bery in which anoth­er man, Mitchell Funches, shot and killed Sherry Collins. Howard was nev­er accused of fir­ing a shot and he has con­sis­tent­ly main­tained that he nei­ther expect­ed nor intend­ed that any­one would be killed. But under California’s felony mur­der law, he was eligible…

Facts & Research

Crimes Punishable by Death

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Sep 14, 2016

Jeffrey Wood and the Texas Law of Parties

Today, DPIC launch­es a new pod­cast series, Discussions With DPIC,” which will fea­ture month­ly, unscript­ed con­ver­sa­tions with death penal­ty experts on a wide vari­ety of top­ics. The inau­gur­al episode fea­tures a con­ver­sa­tion between Texas Defender Services staff attor­ney Kate Black and DPIC host Anne Holsinger, who dis­cuss the case of Jeffrey Wood and Texas’ unusu­al legal doc­trine known as the law of par­ties.” Wood’s case gar­nered nation­al media atten­tion because he was sen­tenced to death despite hav­ing nei­ther killed any­one nor even intend­ed that a killing take place. His execution,…

Facts & Research

Crimes Punishable by Death

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United States Supreme Court

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Nov 10, 2011

LAW REVIEWS: Executing Those Who Do Not Kill”

A new arti­cle to be pub­lished in the American Criminal Law Review explores the con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of the death penal­ty for those con­vict­ed of felony mur­der, i.e., those who par­tic­i­pat­ed in a seri­ous crime in which a death occurred, but were not direct­ly respon­si­ble for the death. The arti­cle is by Joseph Trigilio and Tracy Casadio, both Deputy Federal Public Defenders in California and is titled Executing Those Who Do Not Kill.” The authors argue that the U.S. Supreme Courts deci­sion in Tison v. Arizona (1987) should be over­turned. Tison allows…

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Crimes Punishable by Death

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Sep 14, 2016

New Podcast: Jeffery Wood and the Texas Law of Parties, With Expert Guest Kate Black

Today, DPIC launch­es a new pod­cast series, Discussions With DPIC,” which will fea­ture month­ly, unscript­ed con­ver­sa­tions with death penal­ty experts on a wide vari­ety of top­ics. The inau­gur­al episode fea­tures a con­ver­sa­tion between Texas Defender Services staff attor­ney Kate Black (pic­tured) and DPIC host Anne Holsinger, who dis­cuss the case of Jeffery Wood and Texas’ unusu­al legal doc­trine known as the law of parties.”

Aug 19, 2008

NEW RESOURCES: Live Radio Show Covers Issues in Texas Executions

A new radio pro­gram, Execution Watch, is pro­vid­ing live cov­er­age and com­men­tary on days that Texas exe­cutes a death row inmate. Each show will air live start­ing at 6 pm Central Daylight Time at http://​www​.kpft​.org or http://​exe​cu​tion​watch​.org with a wide vari­ety of spe­cial guests and host Ray Hill. The pro­gram­ming is avail­able through the Internet. On its upcom­ing broad­cast, the show will cov­er issues relat­ed to the case of Jeffrey Wood, who is sched­uled to be exe­cut­ed on Aug. 21. Wood was con­vict­ed and sen­tenced to death under Texas’ law…

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Innocence

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May 13, 2020

Texas Appeals Court Declines to Apply Junk-Science Law to Review Death Sentence Based Upon Hypnotically Assisted Identification Testimony

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (TCCA) has upheld the rul­ing of a Dallas tri­al court that denied a new tri­al to death-row pris­on­er Charles Flores (pic­tured), whose con­vic­tion and death sen­tence were the prod­uct of hyp­not­i­cal­ly assist­ed tes­ti­mo­ny. The TCCA said its deci­sion was “[b]ased upon the tri­al court’s find­ings and con­clu­sions,” which the appeals court acknowl­edged had sim­ply adopt­ed the State’s pro­posed find­ings of fact and con­clu­sions of law.”

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Dec 04, 2018

Texas Case Raises Questions of Fairness of Executing Accomplices

Texas plans to exe­cute Joseph Garcia on December 4, 2018, for the mur­der of a police offi­cer dur­ing a rob­bery in which Garcia nei­ther killed any­one nor intend­ed or expect­ed that a killing would take place. His case renews ques­tions about a Texas law called the law of par­ties” that allows defen­dants to be sen­tenced to death based upon the actions and intent of oth­ers, if the defen­dant played even a small role in a crime that result­ed in someone’s death.

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Clemency

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Dec 08, 2017

Texas District Attorney Asks State to Spare Life of Man She Prosecuted Under Controversial Law of Parties”

The Texas pros­e­cu­tor who sought and obtained the death penal­ty almost 20 years ago against Jeffery Wood (pic­tured), a man who nev­er killed any­one, has now asked that his sen­tence be reduced to life in prison. In a let­ter to the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole, sent in August and obtained December 7 by the Texas Tribune, Kerr County District Attorney Lucy Wilke asked the board to rec­om­mend that Governor Greg Abbott grant Wood clemen­cy and com­mute his sen­tence to life in prison. In 1998, Wilke — then an assis­tant district…

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Clemency

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Aug 30, 2007

Texas Governor Grants Rare Death Penalty Commutation

Just hours before tonight’s (August 30) sched­uled exe­cu­tion of Kenneth Foster, Governor Rick Perry (pic­tured) has accept­ed a Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles rec­om­men­da­tion to stop Foster’s exe­cu­tion and com­mute his sen­tence to life. Perry was not oblig­at­ed to accept the high­ly unusu­al 6 – 1 rec­om­men­da­tion from the board whose mem­bers he appoints. The com­mu­ta­tion is the first of its kind in his eight years in office. The board deci­sion was announced about sev­en hours before Foster was sched­uled to die. Perry’s announce­ment came about an hour lat­er. After carefully…

Facts & Research

Crimes Punishable by Death

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Recent Legislative Activity

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May 07, 2021

Texas House of Representatives Passes Bill to Limit Death-Penalty Eligibility for Defendants Who Do Not Kill

In an over­whelm­ing bipar­ti­san vote, the Texas House of Representatives has passed a bill that ends death-penal­ty lia­bil­i­ty under the state’s con­tro­ver­sial law of par­ties” for felony accom­plices who nei­ther kill nor intend­ed that a killing take place and were minor par­tic­i­pants in the con­duct that led to the death of the vic­tim. Currently, Texas law makes any par­tic­i­pant in a felony crim­i­nal­ly liable for the acts of every­one else involved in the crime, irre­spec­tive of how small a role he played in the offense or whether he knew or…

Facts & Research

Religion

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Nov 11, 2019

Texas Prisoner Receives Second Stay of Execution Over Religious Discrimination Issue

A fed­er­al dis­trict court has grant­ed a stay of exe­cu­tion to a Buddhist death-row pris­on­er in Texas over alle­ga­tions that the state is dis­crim­i­na­to­ri­ly deny­ing him access to reli­gious ser­vices that would be avail­able to Christian pris­on­ers on the day of their exe­cu­tion. On November 7, 2019, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas stayed the November 13 exe­cu­tion of Patrick Murphy (pic­tured), mark­ing the sec­ond time in 2019 that his exe­cu­tion has been stayed over alle­ga­tions that Texas’ poli­cies regard­ing reli­gious advi­sors are dis­crim­i­na­to­ry. The…

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Intellectual Disability

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Executions Overview

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Jan 11, 2019

Texas Prisoner Seeks Stay of Execution on Claims of Junk Science, Arbitrary Sentencing

[UPDATE: The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued a stay of exe­cu­tion to Blaine Milam on January 14, 2019] As Texas pre­pares to exe­cute Blaine Milam (pic­tured) on January 15, 2019, Milam’s lawyers say his con­vic­tion and sen­tence rest on dis­cred­it­ed bite-mark tes­ti­mo­ny and have asked for the exe­cu­tion to be halted.

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Aug 04, 2016

Texas Prisoner Who Did Not Kill Anyone Challenges Execution, Use of False Psychiatrist Testimony to Condemn Him to Die

Lawyers for Jeffery Wood (pic­tured), a Texas death row pris­on­er who is sched­uled to be exe­cut­ed August 24 despite undis­put­ed evi­dence that he has nev­er killed any­one, have filed a new peti­tion in state court chal­leng­ing his death sen­tence on mul­ti­ple grounds. They argue that Wood can­not be sub­ject to the death penal­ty because he nei­ther killed nor intend­ed for any­one to be killed and was not even aware the rob­bery in which a code­fen­dant killed a store clerk was going to occur. They also chal­lenge his death sen­tence on…

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Race

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Jul 09, 2019

Texas Sets Execution Date For Jewish Prisoner Who Alleges Judge Was Racist and Anti-Semitic

A Texas coun­ty court has set an exe­cu­tion date for a Jewish death-row pris­on­er despite his pend­ing fed­er­al appeal alleg­ing that the judge who presided over his tri­al and sen­tenc­ing should have been removed from the case because of his big­ot­ed racist and anti-Semitic views. On July 3, 2019, Dallas County Judge Lela Mays set an October 10 exe­cu­tion date for Randy Halprin, while he is active­ly lit­i­gat­ing a claim that for­mer Judge Vickers Cunningham repeat­ed­ly referred to Halprin and his co-defen­dants using racial and reli­gious slurs, in vio­la­tion of…

Facts & Research

Religion

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United States Supreme Court

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Apr 10, 2020

U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Review Texas Judicial Bigotry Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review the case of Jewish death-row pris­on­er Randy Halprin (pic­tured), who was tried and sen­tenced to death in Texas before a judge who made anti-Semitic and racist com­ments about Halprin and his co-defen­dants. The April 6, 2020 deci­sion marked the sec­ond time in less than two months that the Court has declined to review a con­tro­ver­sial Texas death-penal­ty case in the wake of stays of exe­cu­tion that left open the pos­si­bil­i­ty of judi­cial review in the state courts.

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Jul 31, 2007

Upcoming Execution Raises Questions of Whether Texas’ Law Goes Too Far

On August 30, Texas has sched­uled the exe­cu­tion of Kenneth Foster Jr. (pic­tured), despite the fact that all par­ties agree that Foster did not per­son­al­ly kill any­one. Foster was sen­tenced to death under the Texas Law of Parties that per­mits a per­son involved in a crime to be held account­able for the actions com­mit­ted by some­one else. In this case, Texas main­tains that Foster deserves the death penal­ty because he should have antic­i­pat­ed” that a pas­sen­ger in his vehi­cle would exit the car with a weapon and kill some­one. “[Foster]…

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Aug 14, 2008

Upcoming Texas Execution Raises Concerns about Death Penalty for Accomplices

Jeffrey Wood is sched­uled for exe­cu­tion on August 21 for a mur­der com­mit­ted by anoth­er man dur­ing a botched rob­bery at a gas sta­tion. Wood did not fire the gun that killed the vic­tim and was not inside the sta­tion when anoth­er man, Danny Reneau, com­mit­ted the mur­der. At Reneau’s tri­al, the pros­e­cu­tion had argued that Reneau was the per­son chiefly respon­si­ble for the crime and that Wood’s role was sec­ondary. The pros­e­cu­tion in Wood’s case changed their the­o­ry and argued that he was equal­ly liable for the death under…