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February 8, 2005

Continuing capital commotion

Another relatively quiet Booker day provides some time to catch up on a few notable capital punishment stories. 

  • From Kansas, this article reports on the disparate legislative proposals being considered as a response to the state Supreme Court's ruling last year in Marsh (details here) that declared the state's death penalty procedures constitutionally problematic.  (This story notes that the state Supreme Court has now refused to reconsider the Marsh ruling.)

  • From Houston, this article provides the latest procedural developments in the pitched battle between federal prosecutors and US District Judge Vanessa Gilmore over how to try capital defendant Tyrone Williams in a federal alien smuggling case.

  • From Virginia, this article in the New York Times from this past Sunday provides a remarkable account of how and why Daryl Atkins, the defendant in the case in which the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to execute the mentally retarded, may now be scoring high enough on IQ tests to permit his execution to go forward.

In examining these and other recent capital stories lately, I continue to be intrigued by the huge amount of time, money and energy that gets devoted to death penalty issues which really only impact a handful of criminal cases.  As I noted here concerning the remarkable Michael Ross case from Connecticut, every instance of capital case commotion provides a new object lesson in the symbolic significance of the death penalty.

February 8, 2005 at 04:29 PM | Permalink


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That's a nice Catch-22. If Mr. Atkins is scoring high enough on IQ tests to make him death penalty eligible again, how smart can he really be?

Posted by: Ian B | Feb 8, 2005 6:05:55 PM

I'm surprised you do not excoriate Judge Gilmore for her rulings that have no basis in law whatsoever (as the Fifth Circuit recently did on one of her more egregious rulings).

Posted by: anon | Feb 8, 2005 9:56:55 PM

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