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December 14, 2007

Report on Connecticut hearing on racial disparity in the death penalty

The New York Times has this fascinating report on an unusual court hearing yesterday in Connecticut concerning racial disparities in the operation of the state's death penalty.  Here are excerpts:

In a ground-floor courtroom here on Thursday morning, a plasma television offered a pixilated glimpse of what appeared to be a school gymnasium set up for a debate team tournament. Yet the image of the gym was not from a school, but from the Northern Correctional Institution, a maximum security prison 13 miles away in Somers.

Judge Stanley T. Fuger Jr. of Superior Court usually presides over his cases in a courthouse.  But with seven of the nine residents of Connecticut’s death row expected to appear before him — defending their claims that Connecticut’s death penalty discriminates against minorities — state officials had deemed no courthouse secure enough....

Beyond the sheer oddity of the proceeding, John Massameno, a senior assistant state’s attorney, objected to the case as “the most egregious abuse of the writ of habeas corpus that we have witnessed and that the courts have accumulated a record of.” At the least, it made for one of the most bizarre courtroom scenes in recent memory, and state officials were hard-pressed to say when an actual proceeding, judge and all, had taken place inside a prison....

[L]awyers for the inmates filed into evidence a newly completed 127-page report by John J. Donohue III, a Yale Law School professor and economist, that they said showed that the death penalty in Connecticut was applied in an unfair and almost random fashion.

December 14, 2007 at 07:56 AM | Permalink

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» Racial disparity hearing concludes; some stats available from a public defender
In the midst of a massive snowstorm yesterday, the unusually situated DP hearing concluded yesterday at Northern CI - the States only maximum security prison where death row is housed. The arguments were pretty standard: the State moved to dismi... [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 15, 2007 9:38:15 PM

Comments

Considering that proceedings take place in prisons all the times (usually for dispositions, or various prisoner-transfer issues) I don't know what that state's attorney is talking about.

Posted by: S.cotus | Dec 14, 2007 8:19:25 AM

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