Entries tagged with “Prosecutors

Policy Issues

Race

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Representation

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Sentencing Data

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Jun 19, 2019

ACLU Study: Los Angeles Death Penalty Discriminates Against Defendants of Color and the Poor

A new study of the use of cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment in Los Angeles has con­clud­ed that, through­out the admin­is­tra­tion of District Attorney Jackie Lacey (pic­tured) the death penal­ty has discriminate[d] on the basis of race and against the poor.” The study, released June 18, 2019 by the ACLU, report­ed that under Lacey’s admin­is­tra­tion the Los Angeles death penal­ty has been imposed exclu­sive­ly against defen­dants of col­or, dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly for killings of white vic­tims, and dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly in cas­es han­dled by the worst defense lawyers. In a state­ment accom­pa­ny­ing the release of the study,…

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Feb 23, 2024

Black History Month Profile Series: Craig Watkins

This month, DPIC cel­e­brates Black History Month with week­ly pro­files of notable Black Americans whose work affect­ed the mod­ern death penal­ty era. The third in this series is for­mer Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, who died on December 122023

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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New Voices

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Jul 15, 2019

Books: Arbitrary Death” Reveals a Prosecutor’s Evolution on Capital Punishment

Rick Unklesbay served as a pros­e­cu­tor in the Pima County Attorney’s Office in Arizona for near­ly four decades, pros­e­cut­ing more than 100 homi­cides, includ­ing six­teen in which death sen­tences were imposed. He put Don Miller on death row and, in November 2000, watched as Arizona put Miller to death. In Arbitrary Death: A Prosecutor’s Perspective on the Death Penalty, Unklesbay tells the sto­ry of nine of those death-penal­ty cas­es and how the arbi­trary nature of the U.S. jus­tice sys­tem has changed his mind about the death penal­ty. Who lives and…

Policy Issues

Juveniles

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Representation

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Jul 13, 2020

Capital Case Roundup — Death Penalty Court Decisions the Week of July 62020

NEWS (7/​9/​20) — Florida: The Florida Supreme Court upheld the con­vic­tion and death sen­tence of Troy Merck, Jr. Merck had argued that his lawyer had uncon­sti­tu­tion­al­ly con­ced­ed his guilt over Merck’s objec­tion. The court said there was no concession.

Executions

Lethal Injection

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Mar 11, 2021

Civil Rights Groups Accuse California District Attorneys of Unlawfully Interfering in Death Penalty Lawsuit

Five civ­il rights orga­ni­za­tions have asked a California appeals court to block the efforts of three coun­ty dis­trict attor­neys to lift stays of exe­cu­tion agreed to by the state as part of a fed­er­al-court set­tle­ment of death-row pris­on­ers’ chal­lenge to California’s lethal-injec­tion pro­to­col. [UPDATE: On March 9, 2021, the First District Court of Appeals dis­missed the groups’ lawsuit.]

Policy Issues

Costs

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Innocence

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Apr 29, 2021

DPIC’s New Podcast Series, Rethinking Public Safety, Debuts with a Discussion with Former Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro

As a state leg­is­la­tor in 1981, Jim Petro (pic­tured) sup­port­ed a bill to rein­state Ohios death penal­ty after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state’s pre­vi­ous cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment statute. Later, as Ohio Attorney General, he super­vised 19 exe­cu­tions in the state. Since then, his views have changed and he recent­ly co-authored an op-ed in the Columbus Dispatch urg­ing the leg­is­la­ture to repeal the state’s death penalty.

Policy Issues

Prosecutorial Accountability

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Jan 31, 2024

Examining the Implications of Uncontested Prosecutor Elections in Ohio

In a new arti­cle from Bolts, jour­nal­ist Daniel Nichanian writes about the dearth of can­di­dates in Ohio’s coun­ty pros­e­cu­tor elec­tions. Of the 27 coun­ties with more than 100,000 res­i­dents in Ohio, 70 per­cent drew just one can­di­date” to run for elec­tion or reelec­tion as coun­ty pros­e­cu­tor. Only 15 of Ohio’s 88 pros­e­cu­tor elec­tions this year drew mul­ti­ple can­di­dates by the December dead­line, accord­ing to Bolts’ research: This means that the vast major­i­ty of the state’s pros­e­cut­ing attor­neys are run­ning unop­posed this year; Bolts has con­firmed that no more than one can­di­date has…

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Prosecutorial Accountability

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Mar 17, 2021

Former Alabama Attorney General, Appeals Court Judges Call for New Trial for Death-Row Prisoner Toforest Johnson

More than a dozen for­mer Alabama pros­e­cu­tors, judges, and state bar pres­i­dents have filed briefs in a Birmingham court call­ing for a new tri­al for Alabama death-row pris­on­er Toforest Johnson (pic­tured, cen­ter, with fam­i­ly mem­bers). The extra­or­di­nary fil­ings join Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr in sup­port­ing efforts by lawyers from the Southern Center for Human Rights, the University of California-Berkeley Law School Death Penalty Clinic, and the Innocence Project to free Johnson from what they regard as a wrong­ful cap­i­tal con­vic­tion and death sentence.

Policy Issues

Victims' Families

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New Voices

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Federal Death Penalty

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Nov 13, 2019

Former State and Federal Judges, Prosecutors, and Law Enforcement Officials and Families of Murder Victims Urge Federal Government to Call Off Executions

Hundreds of for­mer state and fed­er­al judges, pros­e­cu­tors, law enforce­ment and cor­rec­tions offi­cials, and fam­i­ly mem­bers of homi­cide vic­tims have signed on to a series of let­ters urg­ing the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to halt the five fed­er­al exe­cu­tions sched­uled for December 2019 and January 2020. In four sep­a­rate let­ters addressed to President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr, 175 fam­i­ly mem­bers of mur­der vic­tims, 65 for­mer state and fed­er­al judges, 59 cur­rent and for­mer state and fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors and law enforce­ment offi­cials, and 26 for­mer cor­rec­tion­al pro­fes­sion­als offered diverse perspectives…

Policy Issues

Sentencing Alternatives

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Victims' Families

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Nov 08, 2019

Jurors Speak About Decision to Impose Life Sentence in Florida Case at Center of Conflict Between Prosecutor and Governor

On March 16, 2017, say­ing that cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment is not in the best inter­ests of this com­mu­ni­ty or in the best inter­ests of jus­tice,” Orange/​Osceola County (FL) state pros­e­cu­tor Aramis Ayala announced that her office would not pur­sue the death penal­ty in any case. That deci­sion, announced in con­nec­tion with the pros­e­cu­tion of a man charged with killing his ex-girl­friend, her unborn child, and a police offi­cer respond­ing to the crime, ignit­ed a polit­i­cal firestorm in which then-Florida Gov. Rick Scott removed Ayala from the case and replaced her with…

Policy Issues

Costs

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Oct 30, 2020

Legal Scholarship: A Proposal for Greater Prosecutorial Accountability

To rein in the social and eco­nom­ic costs caused by the over­ly aggres­sive use of the death penal­ty by pros­e­cu­tors, a California legal schol­ar is propos­ing a plan he believes will reduce mis­car­riages of jus­tice and increase pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al accountability.

Policy Issues

Innocence

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International

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Representation

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Upcoming Executions

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Conditions on Death Row

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Mar 02, 2022

Melissa Lucio Files Motions to Vacate Death Warrant, Remove Judge and District Attorney Based on Conflicts of Interest

Lawyers for Texas death-row pris­on­er Melissa Lucio (pic­tured) have moved to vacate her April 27, 2022 exe­cu­tion date and remove the judge and dis­trict attor­ney in her case because of con­flicts of inter­est stem­ming from their employ­ment of key mem­bers of Lucio’s orig­i­nal defense team.

Facts & Research

Recent Legislative Activity

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May 19, 2021

Nevada Governor, Senate Leaders Block Death-Penalty Abolition Bill That Passed State Assembly

A bill to abol­ish Nevadas death penal­ty died with­out a vote in the state sen­ate after Governor Steve Sisolak (pic­tured) declared on May 13, 2021 that there is no path for­ward” to ban the prac­tice. Shortly there­after, Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, one of two Las Vegas pros­e­cu­tors to hold lead­er­ship posi­tions in the leg­is­la­ture, said that leg­is­la­tors had failed to reach a con­sen­sus on pos­si­ble amend­ments to the bill, end­ing efforts to move any reforms for­ward before the leg­isla­tive dead­line for bills to advance out of committee.

Policy Issues

Race

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Feb 28, 2024

New Report from Texas Defender Service Examines Ongoing Racial Disparities in Harris County Death Penalty Practices and Recommends Reforms

A new report from the Texas Defender Service (TDS) titled Arbitrary and Capricious: Examining Racial Disparities in Harris County’s Pursuit of Death Sentences” was pub­lished on February 22, 2024 and is the lat­est in series of TDS reports on use of the death penal­ty in Texas. The report focus­es on Harris County’s out­lier death penal­ty prac­tices, both with­in the state and nation­al­ly. While more than half of the 254 coun­ties in Texas have nev­er imposed a death sen­tence, Harris County is respon­si­ble for most of the state’s cur­rent death row…

Policy Issues

Intellectual Disability

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Feb 06, 2020

News Brief— Sonny Boy Oats to Come Off Florida’s Death Row After 39 Years

NEWS (2/​6/​20): Sonny Boy Oats will come off Florida’s death row after 39 years, pros­e­cu­tors announced on February 6. Oats was con­vict­ed and sen­tenced to death in Marion County in 1981. His lawyers have argued that exe­cut­ing Oats would be uncon­sti­tu­tion­al because he is intel­lec­tu­al­ly dis­abled. With eight of nine psy­chi­a­trists and psy­chol­o­gists who eval­u­at­ed Oats con­clud­ing that he is intel­lec­tu­al­ly dis­abled, State Attorney Ric Ridgway told the court that his office would no longer con­test Oats’ claim.

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Race

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Representation

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New Voices

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Jul 18, 2019

Philadelphia District Attorney Asks Pennsylvania Supreme Court to Strike Down State’s Death Penalty

Citing race dis­par­i­ties, inef­fec­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tion by court-appoint­ed lawyers, and arbi­trary case out­comes, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to strike down the state’s death penal­ty. In a brief filed on July 15, 2019 in the con­sol­i­dat­ed appeals of Philadelphia death-row pris­on­er Jermont Cox and Northumberland Countys Kevin Marinelli, the District Attorney’s office argued that Pennsylvania’s death penal­ty has repeat­ed­ly been hand­ed out in an unre­li­able and arbi­trary man­ner” and urged the court to rule that the death penal­ty, as it has been applied, vio­lates the…

Facts & Research

Recent Legislative Activity

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New Voices

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Feb 04, 2020

Twenty-One Virginia Prosecutors Sign Letter Urging Repeal of Death Penalty

Calling the death penal­ty a failed gov­ern­ment pro­gram,” 21 cur­rent and for­mer Virginia pros­e­cu­tors have signed on to a let­ter to the commonwealth’s General Assembly urg­ing the leg­is­la­ture to abol­ish cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment. The let­ter was signed by for­mer Attorneys General Mark L. Earley, Sr., a Republican who presided over 36 exe­cu­tions dur­ing 13 years in office, and Democrat William G. Broaddus, nine cur­rent or for­mer Commonwealth’s Attorneys elect­ed across the state, and 12 oth­er for­mer homi­cide prosecutors.