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May 15, 2005

The sagas of death penalty volunteers

The Connecticut Law Blog provides in this post a roundup of many newspaper stories in the immediate aftermath of Michael Ross's execution early Friday morning.  I find especially interesting discussions, in articles here and here and  here, concerning whether this execution will impact the state of the death penalty in Connecticut or elsewhere in the region. 

Most of the post-Ross analysis properly notes that Ross's status as a "volunteer" distinguishes his case and its possible impact.  However, it is important to note that the second (and third and fourth...) execution in a state always gets less attention and scrutiny than the first.  When Ohio had its first few post-Furman executions in the late 1990s, I would get dozens of media calls in the weeks leading up to an execution date.  Now that executions have become more common in the state, there is barely any media coverage to be found.  Similarly, consider that, as detailed in this article, Oklahoma also executed a person on Friday, but that execution received barely any press attention (even though George James Miller maintained his innocence and was convicted and sentenced to die based on mostly circumstantial evidence).

In another interesting story involving a death penalty volunteer, I see from Howard Bashman here that the Indiana Supreme Court late last week continue to hold a former death penalty volunteer to the legal choices he made before he changed his mind about pursuing appeals.  This AP story provides basic background on this interesting ruling which reaffirms that the defendant's petition for post-conviction relief is now time-barred.  The opinion also asserts that that finding the defendant's petition time-barred does not deny "constitutional rights to due process, to equal protection, to open access to courts, or to be free from cruel and unusual punishment."

May 15, 2005 at 08:49 AM | Permalink

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