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January 8, 2005

Indiana capital commutation and other capital news

As detailed in this article, out-going Indiana Governor Joe Kernan yesterday commuted the death sentence of Michael W. Daniels to life without parole for his 1978 murder of a minister during a petty robbery that netted $1.  As the article details, this is Gov. Kernan's second capital commutation and his written explanation asserts these cases "should cause us to take a hard look at how Indiana administers and reviews capital sentences."   

The four-page statement by Gov. Kernan in support of this commutation, available here, is a fascinating read which covers many issues including ineffective assistance of counsel, proportionality and the defendant's low IQ.  The statement partially undermines and partially underscores some of Professor Austin Sarat's recent commentary about clemency in capital cases.

And there are other interesting death penalty stories, in addition to the SCOTUS cert. grants, to review this morning:

  • From Alabama, this story details that the state's Court of Criminal Appeals had to commute a death sentence because the offender's mental retardation meant, after Atkins v. Virginia, he could not be constitutionally executed.

  • From Connecticut, this story discusses the first bill filed in the state legislature to eliminate the death penalty and possibly block the looming execution of serial killer Michael Ross.  Relatedly, this article details that the state's Roman Catholic bishops are asking followers to sign a petition opposing the death penalty (which spotlights issues noted in my recent Sentencing and religion post).

January 8, 2005 at 09:52 AM | Permalink


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