This week’s edition is out:
Leading off this edition are two rather straightforward decisions, State v. Thomas Sparks, Jr. from the Louisiana Supreme Court and Ex parte Andrew Anthony Apicella from the Alabama Supreme Court. In Sparks a remand for an evidentiary hearing is ordered on the issue of trial counsel’s performance, however, the Court’s disposition of the matter suggests that if the trial court grants relief the State will not be allowed to appeal. In Apicella that Court held that the postconviction court below erred in dismissing a “third petition” rather than permitting him to amend a then pending application before the courts below.
Two Supreme Court cases are also noted. In Brown v. Plata, in an unusually blunt language, the Court holds the Eighth Amendment requires something more than warehousing inmates, while “prisoners may be deprived of rights that are fundamental to liberty.. . . [they] retain the essence of human dignity inherent in all persons.” In Kentucky v. King the Court held the Fourth Amendment’s exigent circumstances exception is broad enough to permit evidence seized when the police do not create the exigency by engaging or threatening to engage in conduct that violates the Fourth Amendment.
In the news, the Arizona Supreme Court on Wednesday considered briefly an appeal by convicted murderer Donald Beaty’s last-minute arguments, then lifted the stay, paving the way for Beaty’s execution by lethal injection. The current issue of the National Law Journal has a must-read on habeas corpus entitled “The gutting of habeas for state defendants,” by John Blume, Sheri Johnson and Keir Weyble; professors at Cornell Law School. China has apparently introduced new standards to reduce the number of criminals it executes. with the Supreme People’s Court — the highest in China — ordering lower courts to suspend death sentences for two years where there is no need for “immediate execution.” In Illinois pending DNA tests could exonerate nine men in two separate murder cases. Berkeley Law’s Death Penalty Clinic has received the 2011 Abolition Award from Death Penalty Focus. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Corrections recommends, 7-0 clemency for Shawn Hawkins. The Nebraska Supreme Court has stayed Carey Moore’s June 14 execution date. Texas Senate OKs bill standardizing eyewitness procedures to help prevent wrongful convictions and the bill is off to the Governor’s desk for signature. As always, Steve Hall has the wrap-up of lethal injection developments.
As always a heartfelt thanks for reading. – k