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May 24, 2012

A number of notable death penalty headlines

A mid-day Google news search turned up all these intriguing death penalty headlines (for which I also provide links to the underlying story):

May 24, 2012 at 12:54 PM | Permalink

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"UPDATE Thursday 4:12 pm: Justice Breyer denied the application, acting alone. No opinion was issued. This will allow the transfer of the Rhode Island prisoner to federal authorities for trial."

http://www.scotusblog.com/2012/05/new-dispute-over-death-sentencing/

Posted by: Joe | May 24, 2012 7:40:47 PM

Prof. Berman, you missed the biggest headline: Prof. Liebman's book showing that Carolos De Luna was executed for a murder he did not commit. Federalist and Bill Otis and Scalia always say it never happened. Well Prof. Liebman proved it did. Sham on prosecutors and police who hide evidence of innocence. Shame on posecutors and police who send innocent persons to death. SHAME, SHAME, SHAME, SHAME, SHAME.

Posted by: anon15 | May 24, 2012 11:12:41 PM

@anon15
I think you need to look up the difference between 'proof' and 'opinion'.

Posted by: MikeinCT | May 24, 2012 11:25:12 PM

Add MikeInCt to the list.

Michael Morton would have been another --had he been executed. Fortunately, he was onlyl serving life so he was exonerated after 25 years.

I agreee with Anon 15. Time to end it.

Posted by: anon13 | May 25, 2012 1:11:28 AM

Anyone disagree withthe following statement: "if you've been executed, an exoneration comes too late" ?

Consider the recent report in "The National Registry of Exonerations." As explained on the site, by Prof. Berman, "this registry "is a joint project of the University of the Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law" and it aspires to "maintain an up to date list of all known exonerations in the United States since 1989." This press release via the folks at Northwestern provides some of the highlights (or should I say lowlights) about what this registry reveals and should teach us about mistakes in the criminal justice system:

More than 2,000 people who were falsely convicted of serious crimes have been exonerated in America in the past 23 years. Nearly 900 of these exonerations are profiled, with searchable data and summaries of the cases on the National Registry of Exonerations...

More than 1,000 additional cases are “group exonerations” that occurred in response to 13 separate police corruption scandals, most of which involved massive planting of drugs and guns on innocent defendants. The group exonerations are described in a report from the National Registry, “Exonerations in the United States, 1989 – 2012,” but are not included in the registry itself.

As the report documents in detail, there are many more false convictions and exonerations that have not been found. “The National Registry of Exonerations gives an unprecedented view of the scope of the problem of wrongful convictions in the United States,” said Rob Warden, executive director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions. “It’s a widespread problem.” “It used to be that almost all the exonerations we knew about were murder and rape cases. We’re finally beginning to see beyond that,” said Michigan Law professor Samuel Gross, editor of the registry and an author of the report. “This is a sea change.”

The report includes the following cases, most of which do not appear in any previous compilation:

58 exonerations for drug, tax, white collar and other non-violent crimes
39 exonerations in federal cases
102 exonerations for child sex-abuse convictions
129 exonerations of defendants who were convicted of crimes that never happened
135 exonerations of defendants who confessed to crimes they didn’t commit
71 exonerations of innocent defendants who pled guilty

Plus more than 1,000 group exoneration cases – including more than 200 drivers who were framed for drunk driving by police officers, who usually stole money from their wallets in the process.

[T]he cases in the registry show that false convictions are not one type of problem but several that require different types of solutions.

For murder, the biggest problem is perjury, usually by a witness who claims to have witnessed the crime or participated in it. Murder exoneration also include many false confessions.
In rape cases, false convictions are almost always based on eyewitness mistakes -- more often than not, mistakes by white victims who misidentify black defendants.
False convictions for robbery are also almost always caused by eyewitness misidentifications, but there are few exonerations because DNA evidence is hardly ever useful in robbery cases.
Child sex abuse exonerations are almost all about fabricated crimes that never occurred.

The 10 states with the most exonerations are Illinois, New York, Texas, California, Michigan, Louisiana, Florida, Ohio, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania (not counting the 39 exonerations in federal cases). The states with most exonerations are not necessarily those where most false convictions have occurred. “It’s clear that the exonerations we found are the tip of an iceberg,” said Gross. “Most people who are falsely convicted are not exonerated; they serve their time or die in prison. And when they are exonerated, a lot of times it happens quietly, out of public view.”

I for one am persuaded the the death penalty has go to go!!

Posted by: anon13 | May 25, 2012 10:13:23 AM

@anon13
Is that the same list as Timothy Hennis, Earl Hayes and Roger Coleman?

Posted by: MikeinCT | May 25, 2012 12:48:16 PM

anon13 --

"I for one am persuaded the the death penalty has go to go!!"

That's what you believe, sure. But it has nothing to do with being "persuaded" by Prof. Liebman. Is it not the case that you've believed the same thing for years before this latest report?

P.S. Could you tell us what doubts you have about McVeigh's guilt, or the guilt of the two longtime thugs who killed (after raping) Dr. Petit's wife and two daughters?

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 25, 2012 4:22:44 PM

anon15 --

"Federalist and Bill Otis and Scalia always say it never happened. Well Prof. Liebman proved it did."

Liebman has a bias he doesn't hide; used students all having the same bias, examined the case 30 years after the fact; did not subject his sources to questioning under oath or cross examination; and reached the conclusion he set about to get before he spent five minutes of work on it.

Go prove it in court. Can't? Won't? Then it's unproved.

Smarter than Scalia? Sure you are.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 25, 2012 4:32:06 PM

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