Entries tagged with “Prosecutorial misconduct

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Oct 20, 2020

Keep Your Head Up and Don’t Give Up’ — Exoneree Curtis Flowers Gives an Illuminating First Interview to the In the Dark Podcast

In his first inter­view since his September 24, 2020 exon­er­a­tion, for­mer Mississippi death-row pris­on­er Curtis Flowers (pic­tured) spoke with In the Dark pod­cast host and lead reporter Madeleine Baran about his 24-year jour­ney to free­dom after hav­ing being framed, tried six times, sent to death row and final­ly freed for a mur­der every­one involved knew full well he had nev­er committed.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Apr 10, 2018

After 22 Years, District Attorney’s Office to Examine Possible Innocence of Philadelphia Death-Row Prisoner

Twenty-two years after Walter Ogrod (pic­tured) was sen­tenced to death for a mur­der he insists he did not com­mit, a new Philadelphia District Attorney’s admin­is­tra­tion has dropped the office’s long-time oppo­si­tion to Ogrod’s request for DNA test­ing and has referred the case for review by a revi­tal­ized Conviction Integrity Unit.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Mar 23, 2020

Alabama Judge Denies New Trial for Toforest Johnson

A Birmingham judge has denied a new tri­al to Alabama death-row pris­on­er Toforest Johnson (pic­tured, cen­ter), say­ing he had not proven his claim that his con­vic­tion and death sen­tence for the killing of a sheriff’s deputy in 1995 were the prod­uct of pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al misconduct.

Policy Issues

Representation

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Sep 19, 2019

American Bar Association Death Penalty Representation Project Has Removed 100 Prisoners from Death Row

In February 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit over­turned the con­vic­tion and death sen­tence of Tennessee death-row pris­on­er Andrew Lee Thomas, Jr., rul­ing that Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich had uncon­sti­tu­tion­al­ly with­held evi­dence that a key pros­e­cu­tion wit­ness had been paid for her coop­er­a­tion in the case and then delib­er­ate­ly elicit­ed per­jured tes­ti­mo­ny from the wit­ness that she had not received one red cent” for her coop­er­a­tion. Last month, pro bono lawyers from Winston & Strawn reached a plea deal for Thomas with Memphis prosecutors…

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Upcoming Executions

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May 15, 2020

As Blood Spatter Evidence Causes Jurors to Question His Guilt, Missouri Prepares to Execute Walter Barton

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has vacat­ed a stay of exe­cu­tion for Missouri death-row pris­on­er Walter Barton (pic­tured) who is sched­uled to be exe­cut­ed on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. The court’s unsigned opin­ion, issued on Sunday, May 17, lift­ed a stay of exe­cu­tion that had been issued May 15 by a fed­er­al dis­trict court judge. The dis­trict court said a stay was nec­es­sary to afford it time to address a peti­tion Barton had filed that chal­lenged his con­vic­tion and death sen­tence based upon new foren­sic evidence…

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Clemency

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Jun 23, 2021

As More Evidence of Innocence Emerges, 34 Oklahoma Legislators Call on Governor for Investigation of Death-Row Prisoner Richard Glossip’s Conviction

Following addi­tion­al rev­e­la­tions that Richard Glossip (pic­tured) may be inno­cent of the mur­der that sent him to Oklahomas death row in 1998, a bipar­ti­san group of 34 state leg­is­la­tors are call­ing upon Governor Kevin Stitt and the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board to con­duct an inde­pen­dent inves­ti­ga­tion into Glossip’s case.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Jan 30, 2023

Attorneys for Kevin Cooper Respond to Special Counsel Report

Kevin Cooper (pic­tured) is a death-row pris­on­er in California who was con­vict­ed of mur­der­ing four peo­ple in 1985. He has main­tained his inno­cence of the offense. On January 13, 2023, a spe­cial coun­sel appoint­ed by Governor Gavin Newsom to con­duct an inde­pen­dent inves­ti­ga­tion of Cooper’s case released a report dis­miss­ing his claims of inno­cence, stat­ing, The evi­dence of Cooper’s guilt is exten­sive and conclusive.”

Policy Issues

Prosecutorial Accountability

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Representation

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Aug 09, 2020

Capital Case Roundup — Death Penalty Court Decisions the Week of August 32020

NEWS (8/​6/​20) — Connecticut: The Connecticut Supreme Court grant­ed a new tri­al to for­mer death-row pris­on­er Lazale Ashby. The court ruled that the pros­e­cu­tion had vio­lat­ed Ashby’s Sixth Amendment right to coun­sel by using a jail­house infor­mant … to delib­er­ate­ly elic­it cer­tain incrim­i­nat­ing state­ments from the defen­dant.” The court said that the infor­mant, who had a past his­to­ry of pro­vid­ing assis­tance to pros­e­cu­tors, had been act­ing as an agent of the state when he extract­ed incrim­i­nat­ing infor­ma­tion from Ashby out­side the pres­ence of coun­sel. As a con­se­quence, the court found,…

Policy Issues

Representation

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Jun 28, 2021

Capital Case Roundup — Death Penalty Court Decisions the Week of June 212021

NEWS (6/​25/​21) — Alabama: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has affirmed an Alabama fed­er­al dis­trict court deci­sion dis­miss­ing James Barber’s habeas cor­pus chal­lenge to his con­vic­tion and death sen­tence. In an unsigned, unpub­lished opin­ion, the appeals court denied Barber’s claim that his lawyers pro­vid­ed inef­fec­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the penal­ty phase of his cap­i­tal tri­al by fail­ing to inves­ti­gate and present mit­i­gat­ing evi­dence to the jury.

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Intellectual Disability

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Representation

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Federal Death Penalty

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May 18, 2020

Capital Case Roundup — Death Penalty Court Decisions the Week of May 182020

NEWS (5/​22/​2020) — Washington, D.C.: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has stayed the issuance of its man­date in the fed­er­al exe­cu­tion-pro­to­col law­suit until June 8, 2020, to allow the fed­er­al death-row pris­on­ers to seek review in the U.S. Supreme Court. On November 21, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a pre­lim­i­nary injunc­tion bar­ring the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment from imple­ment­ing the chal­lenged pro­to­col. A split pan­el of the appeals court lift­ed the injunc­tion on April 7. The order assures that federal…

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Intellectual Disability

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Representation

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Sentencing Alternatives

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Jun 07, 2021

Capital Case Roundup — Death Penalty Court Decisions the Week of May 312021

NEWS (6/​4/​21) — Arizona: The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2016 deci­sion in Lynch v. Arizona, which struck down the state’s uncon­sti­tu­tion­al refusal to instruct cap­i­tal-sen­tenc­ing juries that defen­dants who are sen­tenced to life are not eli­gi­ble for parole, does not pro­vide grounds for a death-row pris­on­er to seek new state-court review of that issue.

Jan 24, 2022

Capital Case Roundup — Florida Supreme Court Grants New Trials in Two Death Penalty Cases

On January 13, 2022, the Florida Supreme Court grant­ed new tri­als to two Florida death-row pris­on­ers. The court over­turned Joe Simpsons 2007 con­vic­tion and death sen­tence because of pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al mis­con­duct. It also over­turned Peter Avsenews 2018 con­vic­tion and death sen­tence because of the improp­er pre­sen­ta­tion of remote­ly-record­ed testimony.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Intellectual Disability

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Race

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Jan 18, 2019

Citing Evidence of Innocence, Race Discrimination, Georgia Court Grants New Trial to Former Death-Row Prisoner

A Georgia judge has grant­ed a new tri­al to Johnny Lee Gates (pic­tured recent­ly, right, and at the time of tri­al, left) based on new evi­dence that excludes him as the source of DNA on imple­ments used by the killer dur­ing the 1976 rape and mur­der for which Gates was sen­tenced to death. DNA test­ing dis­closed that Gates’s DNA was not found on a neck­tie and the bathrobe belt the pros­e­cu­tion said were used by the killer to bind Kathrina Wright, the 19-year-old wife of a sol­dier sta­tioned at Fort…

Policy Issues

Race

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Nov 11, 2021

Citing Race Discrimination, Nashville Judge Reverses Conviction of Tennessee Death-Row Prisoner Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman, Approves Plea Deal for Life Sentence

A Nashville judge has for a sec­ond time approved a plea deal that would remove Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman from Tennessees death row and resen­tence him to life with­out pos­si­bil­i­ty of parole. On November 9, 2021, Davidson County Criminal Court Judge Monte Watkins entered an order over­turn­ing Abdur’Rahman’s 1987 con­vic­tion based on for­mer Davidson County Assistant District Attorney General John Zimmerman’s uncon­sti­tu­tion­al use of dis­cre­tionary strikes to remove African Americans from the jury. The court then accept­ed a nego­ti­at­ed plea agree­ment between local pros­e­cu­tors and the defense that with­drew the death penalty…

Policy Issues

Prosecutorial Accountability

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Race

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Nov 19, 2019

Civil Rights Groups File Class Action Lawsuit Against Mississippi Prosecutor Over Systemic Racial Discrimination in Jury Selection

Two civ­il rights orga­ni­za­tions have filed a class action law­suit against Mississippi pros­e­cu­tor Doug Evans (pic­tured) seek­ing an end to what they describe as a pol­i­cy, cus­tom, and usage of racial­ly dis­crim­i­na­to­ry jury selec­tion.” The law­suit, filed by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the MacArthur Justice Center on November 18, 2019 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi on behalf of black prospec­tive jurors in Mississippi’s Fifth Circuit Court District, asks the fed­er­al court to issue an injunc­tion against Evans to bar his office from…

Policy Issues

Prosecutorial Accountability

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Race

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Aug 21, 2020

Commentary: Tennessee’s Commitment to Racial Justice Tested as Attorney General Continues to Push for Execution in Case Rife with Racial Bias

Declaring that “[r]acism still exists and has no place in soci­ety,” the Tennessee Supreme Court on June 25, 2020 direct­ed its Access to Justice Commission (AJC) to cre­ate a new ini­tia­tive to iden­ti­fy and elim­i­nate bar­ri­ers to racial and eth­nic fair­ness and jus­tice.” The court’s pro­nounce­ment, at the height of the racial jus­tice protests that swept the nation fol­low­ing the mur­der of George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police offi­cer, was meant to sig­nal its con­cern about racial bias in the legal system.

Policy Issues

Prosecutorial Accountability

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Clemency

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Upcoming Executions

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May 21, 2021

Court Halts Execution of Terminally Ill Idaho Death-Row Prisoner

An Idaho tri­al court has stayed the sched­uled June 2, 2021 exe­cu­tion of Gerald Pizzuto, Jr. (pic­tured), halt­ing state pros­e­cu­tors’ efforts to put the hos­pice-bound ter­mi­nal­ly ill pris­on­er to death before his stage‑4 can­cer can take his life and state offi­cials can con­sid­er his peti­tion for clemency.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Race

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Sep 08, 2020

Curtis Flowers Exonerated in Mississippi After Attorney General Drops All Charges

After six tri­als marred by pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al mis­con­duct and racial prej­u­dice, draw­ing a scathing rebuke from the U.S. Supreme Court, for­mer Mississippi death-row pris­on­er Curtis Flowers (pic­tured with the ankle mon­i­tor that had kept him under house arrest) has been exonerated.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Race

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Sep 13, 2021

Death-Row Exoneree Curtis Flowers Sues Mississippi Prosecutor Who Prosecuted Him Six Times

Former Mississippi death-row pris­on­er Curtis Flowers (pic­tured), who was exon­er­at­ed in 2020, is suing the offi­cials whose mis­con­duct led to his arrest and repeat­ed wrong­ful con­vic­tion. Flowers was tried six times and spent 23 years wrong­ful­ly incar­cer­at­ed for a quadru­ple mur­der in a white-owned fur­ni­ture store in Winona, Mississippi. In a com­plaint filed September 3, 2021 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, Flowers alleges that his tri­al pros­e­cu­tor, an inves­ti­ga­tor in the prosecutor’s office, and two police offi­cers involved in the inves­ti­ga­tion engaged in per­va­sive misconduct…

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Sep 28, 2021

Death-Row Exonerees in Ohio, Oklahoma Receive Million Dollar Payments for Their Wrongful Convictions

Two men exon­er­at­ed from death row, one in Ohio and one in Oklahoma, have received mil­lion ‑dol­lar pay­outs for their wrong­ful con­vic­tions and death sen­tences. Both were tried and con­vict­ed in coun­ties with long his­to­ries of pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al mis­con­duct and high rates of wrong­ful cap­i­tal con­vic­tions. The com­pen­sa­tion comes more than a decade after each was released from incarceration.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Mar 01, 2024

Death-Sentenced Philadelphia Prisoner Daniel Gwynn Exonerated After Nearly 30 Years

On February 27, 2024, Common Pleas Court Judge Barbara A. McDermott approved a motion from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office to dis­miss first-degree mur­der, arson, and aggra­vat­ed assault charges against 54-year-old death-sen­tenced pris­on­er Daniel Gwynn. Mr. Gwynn is the 197th per­son exon­er­at­ed after being sen­tenced to death since 1973, accord­ing to DPIC’s Innocence Database. Today is most­ly for us a day of tremen­dous relief and sad­ness, a guy like him, an inno­cent soul spent that amount of time wait­ing for his exe­cu­tion lan­guish­ing in jail,” said Mr. Gwynn’s defense attorney…

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Race

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Upcoming Executions

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Jul 24, 2020

Defense Seeks DNA Testing for Pervis Payne, Alleging Racism, Hidden Evidence, and Intellectual Disability Led to Wrongful Conviction

The Innocence Project and fed­er­al defend­ers have filed a motion in a Shelby County, Tennessee tri­al court seek­ing DNA test­ing of phys­i­cal evi­dence hid­den by pros­e­cu­tors for 30 years that they believe will exon­er­ate death-row pris­on­er Pervis Payne (pic­tured). Payne, who is sched­uled to be exe­cut­ed on December 3, 2020, has stead­fast­ly denied com­mit­ting the crime. The lawyers argue that his con­vic­tion and death sen­tence are the com­bined prod­uct of racial bias by a prosecutor’s office with an exten­sive his­to­ry of mis­con­duct and Payne’s intel­lec­tu­al disability.

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Representation

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Jul 29, 2015

Delaware Prosecutor Suspended for Misconduct in Capital Trial

The Supreme Court of Delaware vot­ed unan­i­mous­ly on July 27 to sus­pend for­mer Deputy Attorney General R. David Favata as a result of his mis­con­duct dur­ing a recent cap­i­tal tri­al. With a sin­gle dis­sent as to the length of the sus­pen­sion, the Court banned Favata from the prac­tice of law for six months and one day for inten­tion­al mis­con­duct dur­ing the cap­i­tal tri­al of Isaiah McCoy.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Jan 18, 2024

Discussions with DPIC Podcast: Life After Death Row with Anthony Graves

In this month’s episode of Discussions with DPIC, Managing Director Anne Holsinger speaks with for­mer death-sen­tenced pris­on­er Anthony Graves. Exonerated from Texas’ death row in 2010, Mr. Graves has since become an advo­cate for crim­i­nal jus­tice reform, cre­at­ing the Anthony Graves Foundation, work­ing with the ACLU and Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, and tes­ti­fy­ing before the U.S. Senate on prison con­di­tions. Mr. Graves has also authored an auto­bi­og­ra­phy titled Infinite Hope: How Wrongful Conviction, Solitary Confinement and 12 Years on Death Row Failed to Kill My Soul.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Jul 29, 2021

DNA Exonerates Georgia Man Who Had Waived His Appeals to Avoid Wrongful Execution

When Dennis Perry stood with his defense team on the steps of the Brunswick, Georgia cour­t­house (pic­tured) after a tri­al judge dis­missed all charges against him, he was a free man, exon­er­at­ed of the racial­ly moti­vat­ed mur­ders of a dea­con and his wife in a local Black church in 1985. His case was one of at least four death-penal­ty pros­e­cu­tions involv­ing mis­con­duct by Brunswick Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney John B. Johnson III. And it was the lat­est of more than 30 exon­er­a­tions across the coun­try since January 2019 in…

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Jun 30, 2022

DPIC Analysis Finds Prosecutorial Misconduct Implicated in More than 550 Death Penalty Reversals or Exonerations

An analy­sis by the Death Penalty Information Center has dis­cov­ered ram­pant pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al mis­con­duct in death penal­ty pros­e­cu­tions. DPIC’s ongo­ing review of death sen­tences imposed and over­turned after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down exist­ing death penal­ty statutes in 1972 has iden­ti­fied more than 550 pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al mis­con­duct rever­sals and exon­er­a­tions in cap­i­tal cas­es (click to enlarge image). That amounts to more than 5.6% of all death sen­tences imposed in the United States in the past half-century.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Aug 06, 2021

DPIC Analysis: 13 Exonerated in 2020 From Convictions Obtained by Wrongful Threat or Pursuit of the Death Penalty

A Death Penalty Information Center analy­sis of data from the National Registry of Exonerations has found that law enforce­ment use or threat of cap­i­tal pros­e­cu­tion against sus­pects or wit­ness­es con­tributed to the wrong­ful con­vic­tions of 10% of the peo­ple exon­er­at­ed in the United States and more than one-fifth of all mur­der exon­er­a­tions in 2020.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Race

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Aug 26, 2022

DPIC Analysis: At Least a Dozen Exonerations in 2021 Involved the Wrongful Threat or Pursuit of the Death Penalty

A Death Penalty Information Center review of data from the National Registry of Exonerations has found that the pur­suit or threat­ened use of the death penal­ty by police or pros­e­cu­tors in nine dif­fer­ent states led to the wrong­ful mur­der con­vic­tions of at least twelve inno­cent peo­ple who were exon­er­at­ed in 2021.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Oct 23, 2020

DPIC Analysis: Use or Threat of Death Penalty Implicated in 19 Exoneration Cases in 2019

Prosecutors or police used or threat­ened to use the death penal­ty as a coer­cive tool that led to or extend­ed the wrong­ful con­vic­tions of at least nine­teen peo­ple who were exon­er­at­ed in 2019, a Death Penalty Information Center analy­sis of data from the National Registry of Exonerations has revealed. Nearly 95% of those cas­es also involved some oth­er form of major mis­con­duct, the DPIC analy­sis found.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Sep 10, 2020

Eight Years After Exoneration, Court Declares Joe D’Ambrosio Wrongfully Imprisoned’

Eight years after his exon­er­a­tion from death row, an Ohio tri­al court judge has declared that Joe D’Ambrosio (pic­tured) was wrong­ful­ly impris­oned.” The August 31, 2020 rul­ing by Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael Russo moves D’Ambrosio one step clos­er to receiv­ing com­pen­sa­tion for the more than two decades he spent on death row as a result of pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al misconduct.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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May 16, 2022

Federal Appeals Court Rules that Louisiana Prosecutor and Police Officer Who Fabricated Evidence are Not Immune from Civil Rights Lawsuit by Former Death-Row Prisoner

A pros­e­cu­tor and police offi­cer who fab­ri­cat­ed evi­dence to wrong­ful­ly con­vict a for­mer Louisiana death-row pris­on­er are not enti­tled to immu­ni­ty in a law­suit alleg­ing they know­ing­ly and delib­er­ate­ly fab­ri­cat­ed” that tes­ti­mo­ny, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Intellectual Disability

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Oct 25, 2017

Federal Court Rules to Protect the Interest of Incompetent North Carolina Death-Row Exoneree

A fed­er­al judge has void­ed a con­tract that had pro­vid­ed Orlando-based attor­ney Patrick Megaro hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars of com­pen­sa­tion at the expense of Henry McCollum (pic­tured left, with his broth­er Leon Brown), an intel­lec­tu­al­ly dis­abled for­mer death-row pris­on­er who was exon­er­at­ed in 2014 after DNA test­ing by the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission showed that he had not com­mit­ted the bru­tal rape and mur­der of a young girl for which he had been wrong­ly con­vict­ed and con­demned. McCollum and Brown — who both have IQs mea­sured in the 50s and…

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Representation

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Dec 29, 2016

First-Degree Murder Charges Dropped Against Two Former Pennsylvania Death Row Prisoners With Innocence Claims

On December 22, 2016, Pennsylvania pros­e­cu­tors dropped first-degree mur­der charges against two for­mer Pennsylvania death row pris­on­ers who have assert­ed their inno­cence for decades. In court­rooms 100 miles apart, Tyrone Moore and James Dennis entered no-con­test pleas to charges of third-degree mur­der, avoid­ing retri­als on the charges that had ini­tial­ly sent the men to death row and paving the way for their release.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Foreign Nationals

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Jan 02, 2018

Former Death-Row Prisoner Exonerated in Illinois, Seized by ICE

Former Illinois death-row pris­on­er Gabriel Solache (pic­tured), a Mexican nation­al whose death sen­tence was one of 157 com­mut­ed by Governor George Ryan in January 2003, was exon­er­at­ed on December 21, 2017 after twen­ty years of wrong­ful impris­on­ment, but imme­di­ate­ly seized by agents of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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May 14, 2020

Former Prosecutor, Now on Arkansas Supreme Court, Cited for Bad Faith’ Destruction of Exculpatory Evidence in Death Penalty Case

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has found that a for­mer pros­e­cu­tor now serv­ing as a jus­tice on the Arkansas Supreme Court delib­er­ate­ly destroyed excul­pa­to­ry evi­dence in a case in which he had sought the death penal­ty. On April 29, 2020, a unan­i­mous three-judge pan­el of the fed­er­al appeals court affirmed the rul­ings of a fed­er­al dis­trict court over­turn­ing the con­vic­tions of life-sen­tenced pris­on­ers Tina Jimerson and John Brown, Jr. because of the bad faith” mis­con­duct of then-deputy pros­e­cu­tor Robin Wynne (pic­tured, left). Wynne has served on…

Policy Issues

Prosecutorial Accountability

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Victims' Families

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Aug 22, 2022

Fort Worth D.A. Urges Reversal of Death Sentence, Saying Trial Prosecutor Blatantly Lied’ to Jury that Victim’s Family Wanted Death Penalty

The Tarrant County District Attorney’s office has asked the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (TCCA) to vacate Paul Storeys death sen­tence, say­ing that his tri­al pros­e­cu­tor bla­tant­ly lied” to his jury that the victim’s fam­i­ly want­ed the death penal­ty and sub­se­quent­ly com­mit­ted per­jury in state post-con­vic­tion pro­ceed­ings to cov­er up that lie.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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New Voices

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Aug 15, 2018

Fox Commentator: Oklahoma Frontier Justice” Has Produced Wretched Record” of Wrongful Capital Convictions

Calling Oklahoma the noto­ri­ous home of Hang Em High’ exe­cu­tions,” con­ser­v­a­tive com­men­ta­tor and Fox News con­trib­u­tor Michelle Malkin (pic­tured) has urged the state to adopt sytemic reforms to address its wretched record on wrong­ful convictions.”

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Intellectual Disability

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Race

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Mar 16, 2020

Georgia Supreme Court Votes 9 – 0 for New Trial for Former Death-Row Prisoner Johnny Gates

More than forty years after he was con­vict­ed and sen­tenced to death by an all-white Columbus, Georgia jury for the rape and mur­der of a 19-year-old white woman, Johnny Lee Gates (pic­tured) will be get­ting a new tri­al. On March 13, 2020, the Georgia Supreme Court unan­i­mous­ly held that DNA con­tained on phys­i­cal evi­dence that police and pros­e­cu­tors had with­held for decades raised sig­nif­i­cant doubt” as to Gates’ guilt.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Intellectual Disability

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Race

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May 06, 2020

In Case Permeated with Race Bias, Tennessee Plans to Execute Possibly Innocent and Intellectually Disabled Black Man in Murder of White Woman

Pervis Payne (pic­tured) was young, black, and, he says, in the wrong place at the wrong time. The son of a min­is­ter, he is on death row in Tennessee, con­vict­ed of the hor­rif­ic mur­ders of a white woman and her two-year-old daugh­ter and the stab­bing of her three-year-old son in 1987. His case, pro­filed by Steven Hale in The Appeal on April 29, 2020, fea­tures evi­dence of inno­cence, intel­lec­tu­al dis­abil­i­ty, pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al mis­con­duct, and racial stereo­typ­ing. Payne is sched­uled to be exe­cut­ed on December 32020.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Women

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Mar 19, 2015

INNOCENCE: Debra Milke Exonerated from Arizona Death Row

UPDATE: On March 23, 2015, Judge Rosa Mroz offi­cial­ly dis­missed the charges against Milke. Milke has been added to DPIC’s exon­er­a­tion list. See Milke’s state­ment on her exon­er­a­tion. PREVIOUSLY: On March 17, the Arizona Supreme Court denied a request by pros­e­cu­tors that it review a low­er court’s order that dis­missed the charges against Debra Milke as a result of egre­gious” police and pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al mis­con­duct and bar­ring her retri­al. The court’s deci­sion effec­tive­ly ends pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al efforts to rein­state mur­der charges against Milke.

Policy Issues

Prosecutorial Accountability

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Jul 31, 2020

Investigation Exposes History of Misconduct by Leading South Georgia Homicide Prosecutor in Death Penalty Cases

A promi­nent South Georgia pros­e­cu­tor, laud­ed for his suc­cess in cap­i­tal pros­e­cu­tions, has a his­to­ry of mis­con­duct in those cas­es, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution inves­tiga­tive report has dis­closed. Longtime Brunswick Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney John B. Johnson III, who joined the five-coun­ty prosecutor’s office in 1977, has a dark lega­cy of prob­lem cas­es,” the paper reports, includ­ing repeat­ed­ly with­hold­ing evi­dence from the defense in death penal­ty cases.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Oct 05, 2017

John Thompson, Death-Row Exoneree and Social Justice Activist, Has Died

Death-row exoneree John Thompson (pic­tured), described by Innocence Project New Orleans direc­tor Emily Maw, as an amaz­ing force in the world” and a nation­al leg­end,” died October 3 at a New Orleans-area hos­pi­tal after suf­fer­ing a heart attack.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Sep 17, 2018

Jurors in Henry McCollum Case Reflect on How They Sentenced an Innocent Man to Death

Four years after intel­lec­tu­al­ly dis­abled broth­ers Henry McCollum and Leon Brown were exon­er­at­ed of the 1983 rape and mur­der of an 11-year-old girl in North Carolina, jurors in McCollum’s case met with mem­bers of his defense team and reflect­ed on how they sen­tenced an inno­cent man to death. In a September 6 op-ed in the Raleigh News & Observer, Kristin Collins — Associate Director of Public Information for North Carolina’s Center for Death Penalty Litigation and a for­mer News & Observer reporter — writes that the jurors’ respons­es var­ied from relief, to shame, to…

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Aug 30, 2021

Jurors who Voted to Convict Toforest Johnson Now Support New Trial

Three mem­bers of the jury who vot­ed to con­vict and sen­tence Toforest Johnson (pic­tured, cen­ter) to death in his cap­i­tal tri­al in Birmingham in 1998 are now urg­ing Alabamas courts to grant him a new tri­al. Having learned of sig­nif­i­cant pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al mis­con­duct dur­ing Johnson’s tri­al for the mur­der of a sheriff’s deputy, includ­ing the rev­e­la­tion that a key wit­ness lied to col­lect reward mon­ey, Jay Crane, Matthew Young, and Monique Hicks all say that Johnson’s con­vic­tion should be overturned.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Intellectual Disability

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Race

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Mar 23, 2018

Jury Notes Show Georgia Prosecutors Empaneled White Juries to Try Black Death-Penalty Defendants

New court fil­ings argue that Columbus, Georgia pros­e­cu­tors had a pat­tern and prac­tice of sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly strik­ing black prospec­tive jurors because of their race, dis­crim­i­na­to­ri­ly empan­elling all- or near­ly-all-white juries to try black defen­dants on tri­al for their lives in cap­i­tal mur­der cases.

Policy Issues

Prosecutorial Accountability

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Race

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United States Supreme Court

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Mar 21, 2019

Justices Express Concern About Disturbing History” of Race Bias in Mississippi Death Penalty Case

The U.S. Supreme Court seems poised to grant a new tri­al to Curtis Flowers (pic­tured), an African-American death-row pris­on­er tried six times for the same mur­ders by a white Mississippi pros­e­cu­tor who struck near­ly every black juror from ser­vice in each of the tri­als. During oral argu­ment in Flowers v. Mississippi on March 20, 2019, eight jus­tices expressed con­cern that Flowers had been denied a fair tri­al as a result of race dis­crim­i­na­tion in jury selec­tion in his case. Justice Samuel Alito called the case very trou­bling” and Justice Brett…

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Jul 06, 2020

Kareem Johnson Becomes Nation’s 170th Death-Row Exoneree Since 1973

Former Pennsylvania death-row pris­on­er Kareem Johnson has been exon­er­at­ed, thir­teen years after being wrong­ful­ly con­vict­ed and sen­tenced to death by a Philadelphia jury. On July 1, 2020, the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas com­plet­ed his exon­er­a­tion, for­mal­ly enter­ing an order dis­miss­ing all charges against him in his cap­i­tal case. On May 19, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had barred his repros­e­cu­tion because of pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al mis­con­duct that exhib­it­ed a con­scious and reck­less dis­re­gard for his right to a fair trial .

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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May 31, 2017

Las Vegas Prosecutor Who Obtained Wrongful Capital Conviction Engaged in Pattern of Misconduct

A Las Vegas, Nevada, judge — who, as a pros­e­cu­tor, com­mit­ted mis­con­duct in sev­er­al death-penal­ty tri­als — now faces judi­cial mis­con­duct charges aris­ing out of anoth­er mur­der case in which a defen­dant he pros­e­cut­ed has been grant­ed a hear­ing to prove her innocence.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Oct 23, 2019

Louisiana Man Freed 42 Years After Wrongful Conviction in Death-Penalty Trial

A Louisiana pris­on­er wrong­ful­ly pros­e­cut­ed for cap­i­tal mur­der has agreed to a plea deal that secures his free­dom after spend­ing 42 years in prison for a crime he says he did not com­mit. With the assis­tance of the Innocence Project New Orleans, Elvis Brooks (pic­tured) suc­ceed­ed in over­turn­ing his 1997 con­vic­tion and agreed to plead guilty to less­er charges in exchange for his release on October 152019.

Policy Issues

Prosecutorial Accountability

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United States Supreme Court

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Jun 20, 2018

Louisiana Prisoner Alleges Prosecutor Got Death Verdict By Coercing Witness, Presenting Fabricated Testimony

Michael Wearry, a Louisiana pris­on­er whose con­vic­tion and death sen­tence were over­turned by the U.S Supreme Court in 2016 because pros­e­cu­tors with­held excul­pa­to­ry evi­dence, has filed suit against Livingston Parish District Attorney Scott Perriloux (pic­tured) and for­mer Sheriff’s Deputy Marlon Kearney Foster based upon new evi­dence that they delib­er­ate­ly fab­ri­cat­ed tes­ti­mo­ny against him. Wearry’s com­plaint charges that the Louisiana offi­cials know­ing­ly and delib­er­ate­ly fab­ri­cat­ed” tes­ti­mo­ny from a trou­bled ado­les­cent, Jeffery Ashton and coerced Ashton to false­ly impli­cate Wearry in the homi­cide of Eric Walber.”

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Race

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Nov 17, 2016

Louisiana Supreme Court Orders New Trial for Rodricus Crawford in Controversial Caddo Parish Death Penalty Case

The Louisiana Supreme Court has over­turned the con­vic­tion of Rodricus Crawford (pic­tured) and ordered that he be giv­en a new tri­al in a con­tro­ver­sial death penal­ty case that attract­ed nation­al atten­tion amid evi­dence of race dis­crim­i­na­tion, pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al excess, and actu­al innocence.

Policy Issues

Prosecutorial Accountability

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Military

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Aug 20, 2018

Military Commission Bars Guantánamo Death-Penalty Prosecutors From Using Statements by 9/​11 Detainees

A Guantánamo mil­i­tary com­mis­sion judge has barred pros­e­cu­tors from using state­ments five accused 9/​11 plot­ters made to the FBI after they had been sub­ject­ed to years of tor­ture in CIA black sites. On August 17, 2018, the mil­i­tary judge, Army Colonel James L. Pohl (pic­tured), sup­pressed all use of the state­ments, rul­ing that restric­tions pros­e­cu­tors had placed on the abil­i­ty of defense coun­sel to inter­view wit­ness­es and inves­ti­gate the tor­ture made it impos­si­ble for the defense to mean­ing­ful­ly chal­lenge the state­ments’ vol­un­tari­ness and reliability.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Sep 01, 2020

Mississippi Supreme Court Grants New Trial to Eddie Howard, Sentenced to Death by Junk Bite-Mark Evidence

The Mississippi Supreme Court has grant­ed a new tri­al to death-row pris­on­er Eddie Lee Howard, Jr. (pic­tured), find­ing that the com­bi­na­tion of sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly invalid bite-mark evi­dence used to con­vict him and new DNA evi­dence enti­tled him to a new tri­al in the 1992 mur­der and alleged rape of an 84-year-old white woman.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Mental Illness

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Upcoming Executions

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May 01, 2020

Missouri Supreme Court Denies Stay of May 19 Execution for Brain-Damaged Man Tried Five Times for the Same Murder

In a case long marred by pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al mis­con­duct, the Missouri Supreme Court has denied a stay of exe­cu­tion for Walter Barton (pic­tured), reject­ing his claims of inno­cence and incom­pe­tence to be exe­cut­ed. The court’s rul­ing on April 27, 2020 made no men­tion of Barton’s addi­tion­al request to put off his exe­cu­tion because of pub­lic health dan­gers relat­ing to the coro­n­avirus pandemic.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Aug 16, 2021

NBC’s Dateline’ Investigates the Wrongful Capital Conviction of Death-Row Exoneree Walter Ogrod

NBC’s true crime series, Dateline, fea­tured an episode on August 13, 2021 on the wrong­ful con­vic­tion and even­tu­al exon­er­a­tion of for­mer Philadelphia death-row pris­on­er Walter Ogrod (pic­tured). The episode, enti­tled The Investigation,” is part of an NBC News series called Justice for All” that reports on wrong­ful con­vic­tions and the U.S. crim­i­nal legal system.

Policy Issues

Prosecutorial Accountability

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Race

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Sentencing Alternatives

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Mar 08, 2022

Nearly Six Years After Supreme Court Granted Him a New Trial, Timothy Foster Resentenced to Life

Timothy Foster, whose con­vic­tion and death sen­tence were over­turned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016 because Georgia pros­e­cu­tors dis­crim­i­na­to­ri­ly struck Black jurors from serv­ing in his case, has been resen­tenced to life in prison with­out the pos­si­bil­i­ty of parole.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Representation

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Sep 06, 2019

Nevada Man Convicted by Prosecutorial Misconduct and Woefully Inadequate’ Defense Counsel Released After 33 Years on Death Row

Thirty-three years after a tri­al a fed­er­al appeals court described as a mix­ture of dis­turb­ing pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al mis­con­duct and woe­ful­ly inad­e­quate assis­tance of coun­sel,” a Las Vegas tri­al court freed Paul Browning (pic­tured) from Nevadas death row. On August 21, 2019, Clark County District Judge Douglas Herndon ­— who in March had dis­missed mur­der and relat­ed charges against Browning ­— ordered state cor­rec­tions offi­cials to release Browning from cus­tody pend­ing the out­come of the prosecution’s appeal of his order dis­miss­ing the charges. Browning’s lawyer, Tim Ford, had ques­tioned Browning’s con­tin­ued detention,…

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Race

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Recent Legislative Activity

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Apr 14, 2021

Nevada State Assembly Passes Bill to Repeal Death Penalty and Resentence Death-Row Prisoners to Life

The Nevada State Assembly has passed a bill that would abol­ish the state’s death penal­ty and resen­tence the pris­on­ers cur­rent­ly on its death row to life with­out parole. It was the first time any death-penal­ty abo­li­tion bill had been report­ed out of com­mit­tee and con­sid­ered by either house of the Nevada legislature.

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Representation

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Jul 07, 2021

NEW BOOK — Marc Bookman’s A Descending Spiral: Exposing the Death Penalty in 12 Essays

The more peo­ple know about how the sys­tem of cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment real­ly works, the less sup­port they will have for that pol­i­cy,” says Marc Bookman, the author of A Descending Spiral: Exposing the Death Penalty in 12 Essays. Bookman’s crit­i­cal­ly acclaimed col­lec­tion of essays — described by Publishers Weekly as a cogent and har­row­ing primer on what’s wrong with cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment” — chan­nels his decades of cap­i­tal lit­i­ga­tion expe­ri­ence into 12 sto­ries that exem­pli­fy the sys­temic fail­ings of the death penal­ty, from racial bias and an inca­pac­i­ty to come to…

Policy Issues

Prosecutorial Accountability

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Race

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United States Supreme Court

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Apr 05, 2018

NEW PODCAST — Racial Discrimination in Death-Penalty Jury Selection: A Conversation with Steve Bright

Race dis­crim­i­na­tion exists at every stage of the death-penal­ty process, says vet­er­an death-penal­ty and civ­il-rights lawyer Stephen B. Bright (pic­tured), but the most per­va­sive dis­crim­i­na­tion that is going on is in jury selec­tion.” In a new Discussions With DPIC pod­cast, Bright — the for­mer President of the Southern Center for Human Rights who has argued jury dis­crim­i­na­tion cas­es three times in the U.S. Supreme Court — calls the ram­pant” racial dis­crim­i­na­tion in jury selec­tion a mat­ter of grave urgency.”

Policy Issues

Mental Illness

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Race

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Representation

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Jul 27, 2021

New Podcast: Capital Defense Lawyer Marc Bookman Discusses His New Book and the Systemic Defects that Have Sent the Death Penalty into A Descending Spiral’

In the July 2021 episode of Discussions with DPIC, DPIC Executive Director Robert Dunham talks with Marc Bookman, the co-founder and Executive Director of the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation (ACCR), about his crit­i­cal­ly acclaimed new book, A Descending Spiral: Exposing the Death Penalty in 12 Essays.

Jun 26, 2003

NEW RESOURCE: Report Reviews Prosecutorial Misconduct

Harmful Error,” a new report released by the The Center for Public Integrity, is the end prod­uct of an exten­sive two-year review of pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al mis­con­duct around the nation. The report notes that while many local pros­e­cu­tors per­form their dif­fi­cult work admirably, inad­ver­tent and inten­tion­al mis­con­duct still per­me­ates some dis­trict attor­neys’ offices. Among oth­er pieces of valu­able infor­ma­tion con­tained in the report, Harmful Error” doc­u­ments cas­es in which pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al mis­con­duct played a role in con­vict­ing inno­cent defen­dants, many of whom were sen­tenced to death.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Mar 18, 2021

New York Judge Finds Queens Prosecutor Lied to Convict Three Men Wrongfully Imprisoned in 1990s Death-Penalty Case

A New York City judge has released three men from prison after 24 years impris­on­ment for mur­der, find­ing that a high-rank­ing pros­e­cu­tor in the Queens County District Attorney’s office delib­er­ate­ly con­cealed excul­pa­to­ry evi­dence while pur­su­ing the death penal­ty against a teenage defendant.

Death Row

Foreign Nationals

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Federal Death Penalty

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Mar 12, 2020

News Brief — Federal Capital Case Dismissed Because of Prosecution’s 14-Year Delay

NEWS (3/​12/​20): Citing a 14-year delay by fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors in bring­ing the case to tri­al, a fed­er­al dis­trict court in Texas has dis­missed a fed­er­al cap­i­tal mur­der indict­ment against a Salvadoran man charged with killing two Honduran immigrants.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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New Voices

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Jun 05, 2015

North Carolina Governor Formally Pardons Two Death Row Exonerees

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory grant­ed par­dons to Leon Brown (l.) and Henry McCollum (cen­ter, r.), allow­ing the two men to receive com­pen­sa­tion for their wrong­ful con­vic­tions. Brown and McCollum are half-broth­ers who were con­vict­ed of the 1983 mur­der of an 11-year-old girl and sen­tenced to death. McCollum spent 30 years on death row before being exon­er­at­ed by DNA evi­dence in 2014. Brown was released after 30 years in jail, eight of them on death row. At the time of their arrests, Brown was 15 and McCollum 19. Both gave…

Policy Issues

Prosecutorial Accountability

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Representation

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Clemency

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Jul 20, 2018

Ohio Governor Commutes Death Sentence Based on Jurors Concerns About Unfair Sentencing

Ohio Governor John Kasich (pic­tured, left) has com­mut­ed the death sen­tence imposed on Raymond Tibbetts (pic­tured, right) to life with­out parole, in response to a juror’s con­cerns about the unfair­ness of the sen­tenc­ing pro­ceed­ings in the case. It was the sev­enth time Kasich had com­mut­ed a pris­on­er’s death sentence.

Executions

Executions Overview

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Feb 18, 2022

Oklahoma County Becomes Nation’s Third Most Prolific County Executioner as State Puts Intellectually Impaired Teen Offender to Death

When Oklahoma exe­cut­ed Gilbert Postelle on February 17, 2022, it came with a dubi­ous dis­tinc­tion. The intel­lec­tu­al­ly impaired man who was 18 years old at the time of his offense became the 44th per­son pros­e­cut­ed in Oklahoma County to be put to death since exe­cu­tions resumed in the U.S. in 1977. His death made the coun­ty the nation’s third-most pro­lif­ic coun­ty exe­cu­tion­er over the past half-cen­tu­ry, tied with Tarrant and Bexar coun­ties in Texas. (Click to enlarge graphic.)

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Sep 28, 2022

Oklahoma Lawmaker Calls for Investigation of Prosecutor for Deliberately Withholding Evidence of Innocence in Richard Glossip Retrial

An Oklahoma state rep­re­sen­ta­tive has called for an inves­ti­ga­tion into the prac­tices of the Oklahoma County District Attorneys office fol­low­ing addi­tion­al rev­e­la­tions that coun­ty pros­e­cu­tors delib­er­ate­ly with­held excul­pa­to­ry evi­dence and man­u­fac­tured false tes­ti­mo­ny to secure a con­vic­tion and death sen­tence against Richard Glossip in his 2004 retrial.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Jul 22, 2020

Op-Ed by Death-Row Exoneree Derrick Jamison: I was Within 90 Minutes of Execution for a Crime I Didn’t Commit”

Derrick Jamison sur­vived six death war­rants dur­ing his two decades on Ohios death row, com­ing with­in 90 min­utes of being exe­cut­ed. After he was exon­er­at­ed, on the day he walked free, his best friend on death row was exe­cut­ed. His sto­ry, he writes in a July 11, 2020 op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times, illus­trates every­thing that is wrong with the death penal­ty” and why it should be abolished.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Aug 10, 2020

Orleans Parish D.A. Will Not Run for Re-Election, Tenure Tainted By Office Misconduct in Death-Penalty Cases

After 12 years as Orleans Parish, Louisiana District Attorney, Leon Cannizzaro (pic­tured) has announced that he will not seek re-elec­tion and will be retir­ing as D.A. at the end of this term. Cannizzaro’s tenure in office was marked by his aggres­sive defense of pri­or offi­cial mis­con­duct in cap­i­tal cas­es, mis­con­duct by his office while he was District Attorney, and rev­e­la­tions that Orleans Parish pros­e­cu­tors had rou­tine­ly issued fake sub­poe­nas and threat­ened impris­on­ment to coerce vic­tims and wit­ness­es to coop­er­ate with law enforcement.

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Representation

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Oct 20, 2016

OUTLIER COUNTIES: Former Death Penalty Capital Shows Signs of Change

Harris County, Texas, the coun­ty that leads the nation in exe­cu­tions, has served as a bell­wether in recent years of the nation­wide decline of the death penal­ty. Although the 10 new death sen­tences imposed in Harris County since 2010 are more than were imposed in 99.5% of U.S. coun­ties, they are sig­nif­i­cant­ly few­er than the 53 new death sen­tences that were hand­ed down in Harris in 1998 – 2003 and the 16 from 2004 – 2009. The 2016 Kinder Institute sur­vey of Houston res­i­dents showed that just 27% pre­fer the death penal­ty over life…

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Innocence

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Intellectual Disability

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Race

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Sep 23, 2016

OUTLIER COUNTIES: Legacy of Racism Persists in Caddo Parish, Which Had Nation’s Second-Highest Number of Lynchings

The death-sen­tenc­ing rate per homi­cide in Caddo Parish, Louisiana was near­ly 8 times greater between 2006 and 2015 than the rest of the state, mak­ing a parish with only 5% of Louisiana’s pop­u­la­tion respon­si­ble for 38% of the death sen­tences imposed statewide. Caddo cur­rent­ly has more peo­ple on death row than any oth­er parish in the state.

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Race

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Sep 17, 2021

OUTLIER COUNTIES: Ohio Death-Row Prisoner Challenges Sentence Based on Hamilton County Race Discrimination Study

An African-American man sen­tenced to death in Hamilton County, Ohio in 1999 for the mur­der of a white man is seek­ing to over­turn his con­vic­tion and death sen­tence based on evi­dence from a recent­ly pub­lished study that he was more than five times more like­ly to be sen­tenced to death because of his race and the race of the vic­tim in his case.

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Race

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Dec 28, 2016

OUTLIER COUNTIES: Orange County, California Plagued by Misconduct Scandals

Orange County, California imposed nine death sen­tences between 2010 and 2015, more than 99.8% of American coun­ties, and rank­ing it among the 6 most pro­lif­ic death-sen­tenc­ing coun­ties in the coun­try dur­ing that period.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Mar 06, 2020

Philadelphia D.A. Says Death-Row Prisoner Walter Ogrod is Likely Innocent’

After a review of the case by its Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU), the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office has told a state tri­al court that death-row pris­on­er Walter Ogrod (pic­tured) is like­ly inno­cent,” that new­ly dis­cov­ered evi­dence showed that city pros­e­cu­tors had vio­lat­ed his right to due process, and that his con­vic­tion and death sen­tence should be vacated.

Policy Issues

Prosecutorial Accountability

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Jun 29, 2023

Prosecutorial Misconduct and Brady Claims Closely Examined in Forthcoming Article

A forth­com­ing law review arti­cle tack­les big ques­tions about pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al mis­con­duct. The Brady Database focus­es on the prin­ci­ple stat­ed in the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland: that the gov­ern­men­t’s with­hold­ing of evi­dence that is mate­r­i­al to the deter­mi­na­tion of either guilt or pun­ish­ment of a crim­i­nal defen­dant vio­lates the defen­dan­t’s con­sti­tu­tion­al right to due process. While the arti­cle focus­es on Brady claims in crim­i­nal law gen­er­al­ly, these claims are often raised by death-sen­tenced pris­on­ers on appeal, as demon­strat­ed by DPIC’s Prosecutorial Accountability project, which lists more than 200

Jun 20, 2019

Prosecutors Eavesdropped on 120 Confidential Defense Calls in Kentucky Death-Penalty Case

A Kentucky cap­i­tal defen­dant has moved to dis­miss all charges against him or to bar the death penal­ty in his case as a result of evi­dence that pros­e­cu­tors repeat­ed­ly eaves­dropped on priv­i­leged attor­ney-client tele­phone calls over the span of a year. Lawyers for James Mallory (pic­tured) have filed a motion to dis­miss the case for gross pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al mis­con­duct, alleg­ing that pros­e­cu­tors lis­tened to record­ings of 120 prison phone calls between Mallory and mem­bers of his legal team, total­ing more than 24 hours of con­fi­den­tial con­ver­sa­tions. Given that it is clear…

Policy Issues

Sentencing Alternatives

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Apr 23, 2020

Release of Former Virginia Death-Row Prisoner Delayed as Police Protest Grant of Parole

The release of a for­mer Virginia death-row pris­on­er has been delayed after police orga­ni­za­tions demand­ed an inquiry into the Virginia Parole Board deci­sion to grant parole to Vincent Lamont Martin (pic­tured), con­vict­ed of the 1979 mur­der of a Richmond police officer.

Policy Issues

Prosecutorial Accountability

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Jul 17, 2017

Report Finds High Levels of Misconduct in Four Top Death Sentencing Counties

Four coun­ties that rank among the most aggres­sive users of cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment in the United States have pro­longed pat­terns of pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al mis­con­duct, accord­ing to a new report by the Harvard-based Fair Punishment Project. The report, The Recidivists: Four Prosecutors Who Repeatedly Violate the Constitution,” exam­ined state appel­late court deci­sions in California, Louisiana, Missouri, and Tennessee from 2010 – 2015, and found that pros­e­cu­tors in Orange County, CA; Orleans Parish, LA; St. Louis City, MO; and Shelby County, TN—all of which cur­rent­ly face alle­ga­tions of sig­nif­i­cant mis­con­duct — ranked among the most pro­lif­ic per­pe­tra­tors of…

Policy Issues

History of the Death Penalty

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Sentencing Data

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Apr 09, 2021

Report: 83% of Death Sentences Have Not Resulted in Executions Under Ohio’s Lethargic’ Death Penalty

Just one out of every six death sen­tences imposed in Ohio in the past forty years has result­ed in an exe­cu­tion, accord­ing to the Ohio Attorney General’s 2020 Ohio Capital Crimes Annual Report. The report, released by Attorney General Dave Yost on April 1, 2021, crit­i­cized the state’s death-penal­ty sys­tem as increas­ing­ly time-con­sum­ing, cost­ly, and lethargic.”

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Aug 29, 2019

Samuel Bonner freed 37 years after wrong­ful cap­i­tal pros­e­cu­tion in Los Angeles

Thirty-sev­en years after his wrong­ful cap­i­tal pros­e­cu­tion and con­vic­tion for a mur­der he did not com­mit, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge has set Samuel Bonner free. Citing gross pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al mis­con­duct” that he said shocks the con­science,” Judge Daniel J. Lowenthal(pic­tured) on July 11, 2019 ordered Bonner released from California state prison.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Representation

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Apr 12, 2022

Samuel Randolph Exonerated from Pennsylvania Death Row as Prosecutors Withdraw Charges at Retrial

A Harrisburg, Pennsylvania tri­al court has grant­ed the appli­ca­tion of the Dauphin County District Attorney’s office to with­draw all charges against Samuel Randolph, IV, com­plet­ing his exon­er­a­tion of a dou­ble mur­der that sent him to Pennsylvanias death row in 2003.

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Innocence

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Oct 29, 2013

STUDIES: Prosecutorial Misconduct in Death Penalty Cases

In a four-part series on the con­duct of pros­e­cu­tors in cap­i­tal cas­es, The Arizona Republic exam­ined alle­ga­tions by appel­late attor­neys that pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al mis­con­duct occurred in near­ly half of the state’s cap­i­tal cas­es since 2002.

Policy Issues

Prosecutorial Accountability

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Race

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United States Supreme Court

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May 23, 2016

Supreme Court Rules Georgia Prosecutors Struck Death Penalty Jurors Because They Were Black, Grants New Trial

On May 23, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court over­turned the con­vic­tion and death sen­tence of Timothy Foster (pic­tured) because Georgia pros­e­cu­tors improp­er­ly exer­cised their dis­cre­tionary jury strikes on the basis of race to exclude African American jurors. The vote was 7 – 1, with Justice Thomas the lone dis­senter. Foster is now enti­tled to a new trial.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Race

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United States Supreme Court

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Nov 06, 2018

Supreme Court to Review Mississippi Death-Penalty Case in Which Prosecutor Systematically Excluded Black Jurors

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review whether a pros­e­cu­tor with a long his­to­ry of racial­ly dis­crim­i­na­to­ry jury-selec­tion prac­tices uncon­sti­tu­tion­al­ly struck black jurors in the tri­al of Mississippi death-row pris­on­er Curtis Giovanni Flowers (pic­tured). On November 2, 2018, the Court grant­ed cer­tio­rari in the Flowers’s case on the ques­tion of “[w]hether the Mississippi Supreme Court erred in how it applied Batson v. Kentucky,” the land­mark 1986 Supreme Court deci­sion bar­ring the use of dis­cre­tionary strikes to remove jurors on the basis of race.

Policy Issues

Prosecutorial Accountability

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Race

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United States Supreme Court

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Jun 21, 2019

Supreme Court Vacates Conviction in Mississippi Death Penalty Case Finding Race Discrimination in Jury Selection

Finding that a Mississippi pros­e­cu­tor had inten­tion­al­ly struck black jurors in an attempt to empan­el as white a jury as pos­si­ble, the United States Supreme Court has over­turned the con­vic­tion of death-row pris­on­er Curtis Giovanni Flowers. The Court’s 7 – 2 deci­sion on June 21, 2019, found that Mississippi’s Fifth Circuit Court District Attorney Doug Evans had under­tak­en extra­or­di­nary efforts to pre­vent African Americans from serv­ing as jurors in six tri­als in which he has pros­e­cut­ed Flowers for the same racial­ly-charged quadru­ple mur­der in Winona, Mississippi in 1996. Equal jus­tice under law…

Policy Issues

Race

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Upcoming Executions

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Sep 27, 2019

Tennessee Attorney General Asks State Supreme Court to Schedule Nine Executions and Undo Plea Deal that Took a Tenth Prisoner off Death Row

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery (pic­tured) has asked the Tennessee Supreme Court to set exe­cu­tion dates for an unprece­dent­ed nine death-row pris­on­ers, the largest exe­cu­tion request in the mod­ern his­to­ry of Tennessee’s death penal­ty. On the same day, September 20, 2019, Slatery attempt­ed to inter­vene in the case of death-row pris­on­er Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman to reac­ti­vate his death war­rant and undo a court-approved plea deal with Nashville pros­e­cu­tors that would over­turn his death sen­tence and replace it with three con­sec­u­tive life sentences.

Policy Issues

Prosecutorial Accountability

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Victims' Families

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Oct 07, 2019

Texas Court Reimposes Death Sentence in Case Where Prosecutor Lied to Jury that the Victim’s Family Wanted the Death Penalty

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has rein­stat­ed the death sen­tence of Paul Storey (pic­tured), after a Tarrant County judge had reduced his sen­tence to life because a pros­e­cu­tor had lied at tri­al about the victim’s family’s views on the death penal­ty. In a divid­ed opin­ion issued October 2, 2019, the court did not address the mer­its of Storey’s claim that his death sen­tence should be over­turned because the pros­e­cu­tion had pre­sent­ed false evi­dence and argu­ment to the jury, instead rul­ing that the claim was pro­ce­du­ral­ly defaulted.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Intellectual Disability

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Executions Overview

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Mar 04, 2022

Texas Court Stays Michael Gonzales Execution to Permit Review of Claims of Intellectual Disability, Prosecutorial Misconduct

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has stayed the March 8, 2022 exe­cu­tion of death-row pris­on­er Michael Gonzales (pic­tured, sec­ond from left, with his legal team) based on evi­dence that he may be inel­i­gi­ble for the death penal­ty because of intel­lec­tu­al dis­abil­i­ty and that pros­e­cu­tors with­held favor­able evi­dence from the defense at the time of trial.

Policy Issues

Intellectual Disability

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Oct 10, 2018

Texas Courts Rule for Two Death-Row Prisoners on Intellectual Disability, Junk-Science Claims

Two Texas pris­on­ers took steps away from death row as state courts ruled in their favor on issues involv­ing false or faulty sci­en­tif­ic evi­dence and argu­ment. On October 5, 2018, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) grant­ed a stay of exe­cu­tion to Juan Segundo (pic­tured, left), direct­ing a Tarrant County tri­al court to recon­sid­er a claim of intel­lec­tu­al dis­abil­i­ty that the courts had pre­vi­ous­ly reject­ed based on an uncon­sti­tu­tion­al, unsci­en­tif­ic stan­dard for mea­sur­ing his func­tion­ing. Four days lat­er, an El Paso tri­al judge found that pros­e­cu­tors had pre­sent­ed false…

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Sep 09, 2020

Texas Death-Row Prisoner Seeks New Trial Citing Hidden Evidence that Prosecutor was Paid to Work for Trial Judge in Same Case

Texas death-row pris­on­er Clinton Young (pic­tured), who came with­in days of exe­cu­tion in October 2017 while pros­e­cu­tors hid evi­dence of his inno­cence, has filed a claim for a new tri­al based upon pre­vi­ous­ly undis­closed evi­dence that an assis­tant dis­trict attor­ney who pros­e­cut­ed him was simul­ta­ne­ous­ly employed by the tri­al judge to pro­vide legal advice in his case.

Policy Issues

Race

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Mar 12, 2021

Texas Federal Appeals Court Refuses to Consider Suppressed Evidence of Dallas Prosecutors’ Race-Based Jury Selection Practices, Upholds Conviction and Death Sentence

A fed­er­al appeals court has per­mit­ted a Texas dis­trict court to dis­miss a death-row prisoner’s claim that Dallas pros­e­cu­tors uncon­sti­tu­tion­al­ly struck Black jurors in his case with­out con­sid­er­ing evi­dence of racial dis­crim­i­na­tion that pros­e­cu­tors had with­held from the defense dur­ing state court lit­i­ga­tion on the issue.

Policy Issues

Representation

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Religion

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Upcoming Executions

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Oct 12, 2021

Texas Federal Court Stays Execution of Stephen Barbee on Religious Freedom Issue, Defense Seeks Review of False Forensic Testimony

A fed­er­al court in Texas has stayed the October 12, 2021 exe­cu­tion of Texas death-row pris­on­er Stephen Barbee on his claims that the state’s refusal to allow his spir­i­tu­al advi­sor to admin­is­ter last rites, touch him, or pray out loud in the exe­cu­tion cham­ber vio­lates his con­sti­tu­tion­al and fed­er­al statu­to­ry rights to free exer­cise of reli­gion. Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas issued the stay on October 7, 2021, cit­ing the U.S. Supreme Court’s deci­sion to hear argu­ment on the same…

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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May 28, 2020

Texas Federal Judge Overturns Death-Row Prisoner’s Conviction, Finding Now-Celebrity TV Host Hid Evidence of Misconduct

A fed­er­al dis­trict court judge has over­turned the con­vic­tion and death sen­tence of Texas death-row pris­on­er Ronald Prible, find­ing that celebri­ty true crime” host Kelly Siegler (pic­tured) had engaged in exten­sive mis­con­duct as a Harris County homi­cide pros­e­cu­tor in Prible’s cap­i­tal tri­al in 2002. U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison grant­ed relief on six sep­a­rate claims that Siegler hid excul­pa­to­ry evi­dence from the defense, pro­vid­ed undis­closed favors to prison infor­mants in exchange for them fab­ri­cat­ing false con­fes­sions, and vio­lat­ed Prible’s right to rep­re­sen­ta­tion by using prison infor­mants as agents of the…

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Feb 28, 2019

Texas Plans to Execute Prisoner Whose Death Sentence Was Influenced by False and Unreliable Testimony

Texas is sched­uled to exe­cute Billie Wayne Coble (pic­tured) on February 28, 2019, despite court find­ings that two expert wit­ness­es who tes­ti­fied for the pros­e­cu­tion gave prob­lem­at­ic” and fab­ri­cat­ed” tes­ti­mo­ny at his tri­al. Coble was sen­tenced to death in 1990 and resen­tenced in 2008 after his orig­i­nal sen­tence was over­turned as a result of con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly defi­cient jury instruc­tions. At his resen­tenc­ing, the issue of future dan­ger­ous­ness pre­sent­ed a seri­ous prob­lem for pros­e­cu­tors. Under Texas law, a cap­i­tal jury is required to find that a defen­dant presents a con­tin­u­ing threat to…

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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New Voices

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Nov 02, 2010

Texas Prosecutors Accuse Former District Attorney of Egregious Misconduct in Innocence Case

At a recent press con­fer­ence in Texas, pros­e­cu­tors accused for­mer dis­trict attor­ney Charles Sebesta of hid­ing and tam­per­ing with evi­dence, and of threat­en­ing wit­ness­es in order to con­vict Anthony Graves in 1994. Graves was recent­ly exon­er­at­ed from death row and freed after 18 years of con­fine­ment for a crime he did not commit.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Oct 10, 2017

Texas Set to Execute Robert Pruett for Prison Murder Despite Corruption and Lack of Physical Evidence

Though no phys­i­cal evi­dence links him to the crime, Texas is set to exe­cute Robert Pruett (pic­tured) on October 12 for the 1999 stab­bing death of a state cor­rec­tion­al offi­cer who was at the cen­ter of a prison cor­rup­tion inves­ti­ga­tion. Results of a DNA test of the mur­der weapon in 2015 found DNA that matched nei­ther Pruett nor the vic­tim, Officer Daniel Nagle.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Feb 15, 2023

Thirty-three Years After His Conviction, Former Death Row Prisoner Asks Supreme Court for Justice

Crosley Green was sen­tenced to death for mur­der in Florida in 1990 with an all-white non-unan­i­mous jury. He was removed from death row in 2009 and resen­tenced to life in prison. He has always main­tained his inno­cence and is now ask­ing the U.S. Supreme Court to over­turn his con­vic­tion because crit­i­cal evi­dence was with­held from his attorneys.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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May 04, 2021

Trial Court Recommends New Trial for Death-Row Prisoner Whose Prosecutor Secretly Also Served as the Court’s Law Clerk

Finding brazen mis­con­duct” by a pros­e­cu­tor who with­held excul­pa­to­ry evi­dence from the defense and then secret­ly served as the tri­al judge’s law clerk in the case, a Midland County, Texas judge has rec­om­mend­ed that death-row pris­on­er Clinton Young (pic­tured) be grant­ed a new trial.

Policy Issues

Race

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United States Supreme Court

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Jun 21, 2016

U.S. Supreme Court Orders Reconsideration of Three Cases in Light of Jury Selection Decision

The U.S. Supreme Court grant­ed writs of cer­tio­rari in three jury dis­crim­i­na­tion cas­es on June 20, vacat­ing each of them and direct­ing state courts in Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana to recon­sid­er the issue in light of the Court’s recent deci­sion in Foster v. Chatman. Two of the peti­tion­ers, Curtis Flowers of Mississippi and Christopher Floyd of Alabama, are cur­rent­ly on death row. The third, Jabari Williams, was con­vict­ed in Louisiana of sec­ond-degree mur­der. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court grant­ed Timothy Foster a new tri­al because pros­e­cu­tors ille­gal­ly exclud­ed blacks…

Policy Issues

Prosecutorial Accountability

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Representation

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Foreign Nationals

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Federal Death Penalty

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Military

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Oct 16, 2017

USS Cole Lawyers Resign From Guantánamo Death-Penalty Defense, Say Government Spied on Client Communications

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied review of a peti­tion filed by lawyers on behalf of Abd al Rahim al Nashiri—accused of orches­trat­ing al-Qaida’s October 12, 2000 sui­cide bomb­ing of the USS Cole war­ship off the coast of Yemen—chal­leng­ing the legal­i­ty of his death penal­ty tri­al before a Guantánamo Bay mil­i­tary com­mis­sion. But in what has been described as a stun­ning set­back” to what would have been the first death-penal­ty tri­al held before the spe­cial mil­i­tary tri­bunals estab­lished in the wake of the 9/​11 attacks, the entire civil­ian legal team…

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Dec 01, 2022

Utah Court Grants New Trial to Death-Row Prisoner Convicted in 1985 by False Testimony Coerced by Police

A Utah judge has grant­ed a new tri­al to death-row pris­on­er Douglas Carter, find­ing that pros­e­cu­tors know­ing­ly with­held from the defense evi­dence that police coerced false tes­ti­mo­ny from two key wit­ness­es, coached them to lie, pro­vid­ed them thou­sands of dol­lars in finan­cial ben­e­fits” to impli­cate Carter, and threat­ened them with depor­ta­tion and loss of their son if they did not cooperate.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Foreign Nationals

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Apr 18, 2018

Vicente Benavides, Sentenced to Death by False Forensics, to Be Freed After 26 Years on Death Row

Mexican nation­al Vicente Figueroa Benavides (pic­tured), wrong­ly con­vict­ed and sen­tenced to death in Kern County, California for sup­pos­ed­ly rap­ing, sodom­iz­ing, and mur­der­ing his girlfriend’s 21-month-old daugh­ter, will soon be freed after near­ly 26 years on death row. He will be the 162nd per­son and fifth for­eign nation­al exon­er­at­ed from a U.S. death row since 1973.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Jun 09, 2020

Walter Ogrod Exonerated After 23 Years on Pennsylvania’s Death Row

Twenty-eight years after Philadelphia pros­e­cu­tors first sought to take his life for the mur­der of four-year-old Barbara Jean Horn, Walter Ogrod (pic­tured, sec­ond from right, with mem­bers of his defense team) has been exon­er­at­ed from Pennsylvanias death row.