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February 6, 2014

Tennessee now has more scheduled execution dates than it has had modern executions

Tennessee has only had six executions in the modern death penalty era, and it has not completed an execution in nearly five years.  But, as reported in this local article, it now has 10 new execution dates scheduled:

The state of Tennessee plans to execute 10 death row inmates over the next two years after changing the drug protocol to be used in lethal injections, officials said Wednesday.  The state is scheduled to execute the condemned prisoners between April 22, 2014, and Nov. 17, 2015, the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts confirmed. Three executions are scheduled this year and seven in 2015.

Gov. Bill Haslam, noting that three execution orders were handed down Friday by the state Supreme Court, told The Tennessean Wednesday that the decision to seek the executions didn’t go through him.  But he said he agrees with it.  “The death penalty has been approved by the state,” he said.  “It’s been our policy. When I ran, I got asked that question, and I said I will follow what the juries decide.”...

Kelley Henry, who supervises capital punishment defense cases with the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Nashville, said it was unfortunate that so many death row inmates were being grouped together.  Henry and other attorneys have asked a Davidson County judge to halt the executions over questions about the drug the state now plans to use. “Each and every one of these cases has a story that is an example of how the death penalty system in Tennessee is broken,” she said Wednesday.  “They each have different stories of ineffective counsel, of evidence that was suppressed by the state, stories of trauma and mental abuse that were never presented to a jury or a judge.”

February 6, 2014 at 04:25 PM | Permalink

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"'Each and every one of these cases has a story that is an example of how the death penalty system in Tennessee is broken,' she said Wednesday. 'They each have different stories of ineffective counsel, of evidence that was suppressed by the state, stories of trauma and mental abuse that were never presented to a jury or a judge.'"

The list of excuses is totally static. Generally, defense lawyers are creative -- more creative than prosecutors in my experience. I wish they would use their talent to gin up something new. Maybe a new syndrome or somethin'. The current litany is getting really, really old.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 6, 2014 4:33:07 PM

The funny bit is I agree with her up through "'Each and every one of these cases has a story that is an example of how the death penalty system in Tennessee is broken". She sees it broken in one direction while I see it broken in the other.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Feb 6, 2014 4:45:52 PM

"only had six executions in the modern death penalty era"

Here is a list in the state since 1916:

http://www.state.tn.us/correction/media/tnexecutions.html

No one was executed from 1961-1999. About one a year for the preceding decade.

TN murderers have generally been dealt in a way other than execution for awhile.

Posted by: Joe | Feb 6, 2014 8:20:54 PM

Go read about the tortures in case the murder was insufficient to justify execution in TX:
{http://www.crimeandconsequences.com/crimblog/2014/02/the-basso-execution.html#more}

| Suzanne Basso dies in Texas execution after 1998 torture murder | Thursday, February 06, 2014

 “a state judge last month [ruled] that Basso had a history of fabricating stories about herself, seeking attention and manipulating psychological tests
 “Lower federal courts and state courts also refused to halt the punishment”
 “Basso's court appearances were marked by claims of blindness and paralysis, and speech mimicking a little girl”

 “she acknowledged lying about her background, including that she was a triplet,”
 “Basso, who used a wheelchair, blamed her [degenerative disease] on a jail beating years ago.”
 “Among witnesses testifying at Basso's punishment trial was her daughter, who told of emotional, physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her mother.”

\\\ “after the Supreme Court rejected a last-day appeal from Basso's attorney [Winston Cochran Jr.] who argued she was not mentally competent”

1). Why did the Supreme Court have to hear this appeal, nearly 15 years after the conviction?
2). Is there any accountability for attorney Cochran, who despite court findings of her material lies, frequent fabrications, and manipulation – even of psychological
tests – delayed her execution with motions?
  http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/national_world&id=94217097 7

Posted by: Adamakis | Feb 7, 2014 11:51:20 AM

It is rare for Tennessee to make major news in your journa. As one who lived most of his life in Tennessee at one time, this strongly interests me.

Tennessee, as you say, has had only six executions since it resumed them after a forty year hiatus. It almost had seven when the previous Governor, Phil Bredeson, gave clemency to a white woman facing execution. Had her execution had gone through, she would have been the first woman executed in Tennessee since the 1820's before Andrew Jackson's rise to the Presidency; and she would have been the first WHITE woman ever to have been executed in Tennessee since its 1796 statehood! Presently, only one other woman (also white) sits in Tennessee's death row.

Tennessee, though no hot-bed for abolitionism of capital punishment, has over its history taken a unique road distinguishing herself from other Southeastern states (and from either a few NORTHERN states). During the 1910's (First World War Era), she actually abolished the death penalty for the crime of first degree murder under, I believe, a Republican Governor (probably Governor Hooper). That abolition only lasted until just before 1920, but Tennessee had made herself the only former Confederate state to abolish the death penalty for that particular offense on her own (then or since)!

Although she has failed to re-abolish the death penalty on her own since the early 1920's, she came very close to doing so by just one vote in 1963, and possibly in 1965. Since Tennessee had far more Republicans in her legislature during that era than any neighboring states did, it is possible that at least a few Republican members from the anti-Confederate eastern part of Tennessee, also voted for abolition (though I am not absolutely sure on that point).

From January, 1950, until April, 1955, Tennessee had a five year moratorium on any executions. That meant Tennessee even had fewer executions during that period than major northern states like New York (who executed the Rosenberg couple in 1953) or California! Mighty unusual for a former Confederate state!

From November of 1960 until early in 2000, no executions took place in Tennessee despite its death row's high population.

We will see if Tennessee continues its unique path on the death penalty issue as time goes on!

Posted by: william r. delzell | Feb 8, 2014 12:51:58 PM

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