From this week’s edition:
A series of hard fought, but unsuccessful, cases dominate this edition. The best of this bad bunch include the Six Circuit’s denial of relief in Ralph Baze, Jr. v. Parker holding the All Writs Act, despite the statutory right to counsel in clemency, does not mean federal courts have “the power to ensure acquisition of information against all outside obstacles.” The Third Circuit in Kelvin X. Morris v. Beard held the district court did not err in holding an evidentiary hearing on trial counsel’s representation of an alternate suspect but erred in granting relief. The Ohio Supreme Court in State v. Andre Williams held that just because a person condemned to death purportedly has severe intellectual disabilities and is without counsel does not justify filing a state post-conviction petition out of time. The California Supreme Court, on a more favorable note, held that the trial court erred, in Steven David Catlin v. Sup’r Court, in finding the Appellant’s motion for certain postconviction discovery untimely.
A new study finds that the accuracy of drug- and explosives-sniffing dogs is affected by a human handlers’ beliefs, to even subtle (published in the January issue of the Journal Animal Cognition). The maker of pentobarbital has asked Ohio and Oklahoma not to use sedative for putting inmates to death. Lawyers in Washington recently sued the Food and Drug Administration on behalf of death-row prisoners, demanding that the federal courts prohibit importation and use of foreign stocks of sodium thiopental. NPR, ProPublica and PBS are looking at death investigations in a series entitiled Post Mortem: Death Investigation in America. In North Carolina a judge will consider whether race played a roll in sentencing two men to death row in light of the state’s Racial Justice Act of 2009. The Death Penalty Information Center [here] has added a mobile social media application for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. A recent study conducted by Professors Glenn Pierce and Michael Radelet published in the Louisiana Law Review showed that the odds of a death sentence in parts of Louisiana were 2.6 times higher for those charged with killing a white victim than for those charged with killing a black victim. Finally, the New York Times recently looked in depth at possible problems with “findings” of shaken baby syndrome.
Invariably half the list already knew this, however, Justia now apparently tracks all (or almost all) federal capital habeas appeals in the country at the Court of Appeals stage.
As always, thanks for reading. – k