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September 22, 2016

Interesting account of how Mexico invests in keeping its homicidal citizens from being sentenced to death in the US

The Marshall Project has this interesting new article headlined "How Mexico Saves Its Citizens from the Death Penalty in the U.S.: A fund is designated to train, pay and advise American defense lawyers." Here are is how it gets started:

When the body of 25-year old Lesley Hope Plott was found lying in a ditch in Russellville, Ala., in February of 2013, police had little trouble zeroing in on a suspect: hours earlier, a nearby church’s security camera had recorded her being beaten and stabbed by her estranged husband, Angel Campos Nava.

Born in Mexico, Nava, 36, had come to the United States years earlier. He had already been convicted of assaulting Plott on two earlier occasions. A murder conviction could result in the death penalty. It was up to Rebecca Thomason, Nava’s lawyer, to convince the Franklin County district attorney to instead seek a life sentence, or, failing that, to convince a jury to spare his life. It didn’t help that Nava was undocumented, and they were in Alabama, a state with some of the harshest anti-immigration laws in the country.

Then, Thomason received a call offering her something few lawyers in death penalty cases get: money, training, and advice, courtesy of the Mexican government. Nava’s case had caught the attention of the Mexican Capital Legal Assistance Program, created by Mexican officials in 2000 to save the country’s citizens from execution in the United States.

One of the program’s chief purposes is to help defense attorneys construct a biography of the accused—to humanize them. Poverty, family dysfunction, and developmental disability are frequent themes in their clients’ lives. When presented as part of a defense, such themes can encourage mercy among jurors and dissuade them from handing down a death sentence.

To that end, the program arranges for lawyers to go to Mexico to track down school and hospital records and stories about their clients’ lives, either paying for their travel costs or advising them on how to request money from local courts. Under the program, Mexico pays American lawyers up to $220 an hour to track potential death penalty cases around the country—watching court decisions and news stories from the moment of arrest, all the way through the last minute scramble before an execution—and advise court-appointed lawyers like Thomason.

Since 2008, the program has provided these attorneys with an average annual budget of around $4 million to track as many as 135 cases at a time, according to the program’s filings with the Department of Justice.  That comes out to roughly $29,000 per case, per year.  By contrast, the Equal Justice Initiative, which represents numerous inmates on Alabama’s death row, has reported that many of them were sentenced to death after their attorneys’ fees were capped at $1,000 for out-of-court trial preparation.

September 22, 2016 at 09:00 AM | Permalink

Comments

He had already been convicted of assaulting Plott on two earlier occasions.

M•E•H
Had she had the opportunity to stop him with deadly force „ then this issue would not exist•

Dead thugs do not assault their intended victims •

I am not a fan of capital punishment , but stopping a homicidal attack with deadly force saves untold hours and dollars of investigations , trial(s) , confinements , and appeals •

Nemo Me Impune Lacessit
Kindly submitted .

Posted by: Moi , the Nemo ♠ Me Impune ♂ in OH | Sep 22, 2016 10:53:03 AM

I notice the piece (or at least the copied portion) does not say whether the aid actually worked.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Sep 22, 2016 11:59:15 AM

From the article, "In a 2008 Hofstra Law Journal article, Greg Kuykendall, the Tucson, Arizona-based director of the program, claimed that it had a 95 percent success rate in keeping roughly 300 Mexican nationals from being executed."

Posted by: John | Sep 22, 2016 6:04:04 PM

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