September 16, 2007
Tenn Gov commutes death sentence based on poor lawyering
As detailed in this official announcement, on Friday Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen "commuted the death sentence of Michael Joe Boyd (also known as Mika’eel Abdullah Abdus-Samad) to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole citing grossly inadequate legal representation received by Boyd during his post conviction hearing and procedural limitations." A very large pdf file, available here, provides all the documents relating to the commutation, including the official statement that Bredesen had a "substantial and unresolved doubt that the trial jury would have impose the death penalty had the defendant received competent legal representation."
Local press coverage in this article indicates that the "commutation is believed to be the first in Tennessee since the return of the 'modern death penalty' in Tennessee, in 1977." Moreover, I think it has been quite a long time since a capital commutation has been based principally on poor lawyering. (The DPIC has this effective archive of modern capital clemency grants.)
This Tennessee commutation, as well as the recent one in Texas, provides another basis for believing that the death penalty is continuing to lose some of its one-sided political punch.
September 16, 2007 at 03:01 PM | Permalink
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What the heck is that press release statement supposed to mean?? Some words are abviously missing, but it might go either way.
Posted by: Gray Proctor | Sep 17, 2007 4:01:44 PM