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August 21, 2004

A Capital idea: Some non-Blakely news

Because the Blakely story is always on-going, it is challenging to keep up with other sentencing law and policy news. But, especially in the important arena of capital punishment, there's no shortage of significant developments on many fronts. Helpfully, the folks at the Death Penalty Information Center do a fantastic job assembling news and resources on capital punishment, and here you can see DPIC's coverage of recent death penalty developments. I have come across a few particularly interesting death penalty items which I'd like to briefly note:

1. This effective article from the New York Times discusses the confusion and uncertainty which surrounds the application of the death penalty in New York in the wake of the declaration in People v. LaValle that New York's death penalty statute is unconstitutional under the New York State Constitution because of its jury deadlock instruction (details here). Coincidently, the Lavalle decision was handed down by the New York Court of Appeals on June, 24, 2004, the same day Blakely was decided. Perhaps some cosmic force required the announcement of very important and very opaque decisions on that day.

2. I finally got a chance to watch the award-winning documentary "Deadline," which covers the emotional and legal issues surrounding former Illinois Governor George Ryan's decision in January 2003 to commute the death sentences of all defendants on Illinois' on death row. The film-makers provide remarkable access to the clemency hearings and insightful interviews with key figures, and the movie deserves all the accolades it has received. In addition, I've learned that the film-makers have created an official Deadline blog here, which is part of an ambitious outreach campaign.

3. I received a notice this week about a conference scheduled for September 10-11, 2004 at Indiana Law School entitled "Toward a Model Death Penalty Code: The Massachusetts Governor's Council Report." As noted here, earlier this year, the Massachusetts Governor's Council on Capital Punishment released a report outlining 10 recommendations for the creation of a more fair and accurate death-penalty system. The Report of the Governor's Council is quite interesting and provocative (as is the suggestion that it creates a Model Death Penalty Code), and thus the discussion at this conference should be engaging.

August 21, 2004 at 06:43 PM | Permalink


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