In a New York Times op-ed, “What Happens When Prosecutors Break the Law?” defense attorney Nina Morrison focuses on the case of Suffolk County, New York prosecutor Glenn Kurtzrock who was found to have suppressed evidence in five murder cases, and in spite of being fired and having all five cases overturned, “hasn’t been charged with a single crime. Not fraud, not tampering with government records, not contempt of court.” Even worse, Morrison says he is still practicing law — as a defense attorney. Morrison uses Kurtzrock as an example of “the system’s egregious failure to hold a rogue prosecutor accountable,” and points out that the National Registry of Exonerations has reported that “official misconduct” was a factor in more than 2,000 exonerations in the U.S. since 1989, but thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that individual prosecutors are “immune” from civil rights lawsuits “in all but the rarest of cases,” the misconduct continues.
In an introduction to the June ABA Death Penalty Due Process Review Project study, “Potential Cost-Savings of a Severe Mental Illness Exclusion from the Death Penalty: An Analysis of Tennessee Data,” Peter A. Collins, who has led a team of researchers on three similar analyses of the death penalty in Oklahoma, Oregon, and Washington State, writes that they and other state studies, “offer reliable per-case, and in some cases, system-wide cost estimates . . . . [and] have found that seeking and imposing the death penalty is more expensive than in similar cases where it is not. The only differences in the results of these studies have been in discovering ‘how much’ cost.”
In the June issue of “Longreads,” Tori Telfer interviews Issac J. Bailey, about his new book, My Brother Moochie: Regaining Dignity in the Face of Crime, Poverty, and Racism in the American South. Bailey’s brother, Moochie, who was “like a god” to him, was arrested for murder when Bailey was nine years old. His book explores how “callously the families of perpetrators are ignored by the criminal justice system, and how little nuance is afforded both black men who’ve offended and the families who love them,” writes Telfer. As Bailey tells Telfer, “When something awful happens, I get that the perpetrator has to be held to account, but after that’s happened, there must be space for redemption for everyone.”
In the July 2 “scotusblog,” Carol Steiker and Jordan Steiker analyze U.S. Supreme Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s record on death penalty cases and as the title of the piece says, “He Swung Left on the Death Penalty but Declined to Swing for the Fences.” Citing his opinions “that broke new ground in the court’s Eighth Amendment jurisprudence” including the proportionality doctrine that resulted in exemptions for juveniles, and those with intellectual disability, as well as his concurrences in cases that guaranteed the right to present all relevant mitigating evidence, the authors point out that “he was the first justice to raise concerns about the extensive use of solitary confinement on death row.”