« The sagas of death penalty volunteers | Main | Reviewing the status of restitution »

May 15, 2005

More on death penalty volunteers from the Volunteer State

Seems like it was a banner week for death penalty volunteers.  In addition to the two cases discussed in this post, I have heard from an always helpful reader that the Tennessee Supreme Court this past Thursday issued a major ruling concerning a death penalty volunteer who changed her mind about waiving post-conviction appeals.  (Of course, as the reader reminded me, this is not why Tennessee bears the Volunteer State nickname: this "nickname originated during the War of 1812, in which the volunteer soldiers from Tennessee, serving under Gen. Andrew Jackson, displayed marked valor in the Battle of New Orleans.")

The ruling of the Tennessee Supreme Court in Pike v. State, No. E2003-00766-SC-R11-PD (Tenn. May 12, 2005) (available here), is quite interesting and nuanced (and seems a lot sounder than the court's work in its Blakely ruling in Gomez which is discussed here and questioned here.)  Here is the court's description of its work in Pike:

This appeal presents two determinative issues: (1) whether post-conviction review of a death sentence should be mandatory and should proceed over the objection of a competent death-sentenced inmate; and if not, (2) whether, and under what circumstances, a competent death-sentenced inmate may revoke her waiver of post-conviction review. We conclude that post-conviction review is not mandatory and may be waived by a competent death-sentenced inmate. We also conclude that a competent death-sentenced inmate may revoke a waiver of post-conviction review so long as the revocation occurs within thirty days of the trial court’s order permitting the inmate to waive postconviction review. Our holding is limited to death-sentenced inmates who seek to revoke an initial waiver of post-conviction relief. Our holding does not apply to death-sentenced inmates who attempt to manipulate and to delay the judicial process by repeatedly seeking to waive and thereafter to reinstate post-conviction review.

May 15, 2005 at 04:48 PM | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference More on death penalty volunteers from the Volunteer State:


Dear Mr Berman, I am not a professional in the field of law I am a personal friend of an inmate in ESP N.V. His is on death row, sentenced in 1995 for murder with two life sentences that he will face most likely if he comes off DR. He has contacted me by letter last week to inform me that he has simply had "enough" and cannot contemplate 50+ years in his "cage". He has requested that his sentence be carried out and I hear now via his attorney that he will be moved to Las Vegas court on 13th August for his case to be heard before a judge to request this plee be carried out. I have heard via another friend of his that his attorney has explained to us that if the judge grants his plea, the date could be given as soon as a couple of days and the execution could be carried out within 15/30 days. Is this just the worse case scenario or is it possible that these procedures can move so quickly. I know that the state of Nevada has not executed "involunteerily" for many years but did read that a volunteer on DR was executed approx 2 years ago. In the state of Nevada could you please give me what information you know of this situation. I believed things would not move this fast. My friend is inmate William Castillo D.O.B 12.28.72. #51918. I would appreciate any information you could give me as to the time frame he is looking at. He is of sound mind and very aware of everything happening at this point. He said he feels he has peace now that the ball is rolling. I would appreciate any information. This man has become a very dear friend to me and I feel quite helpless here. I am behind him 100% with his decision because of my association with him as he has talked to me about this recently in letters . Much appreciated, Jenny Yeats - Sydney Australia

Posted by: jenny yeats | Aug 6, 2007 8:25:55 AM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB