In its editorial, “Gov. Brown Needs to Speed Up the Review Process for Death Row Inmate Kevin Cooper,” the LA TImes editorial board says that death row prisoner Kevin Cooper’s request for advanced DNA testing of evidence from the quadruple murder he was convicted of committing in San Bernardino County in 1985, as well as an innocence hearing, should be fast-tracked since Gov. Jerry Brown will be leaving office in January, possibly before the review process is completed. If that happens, the next governor will have to start the process all over again, which “would unjustly delay yet again the search for the truth, and the possible freeing of an innocent man.”
In her article, “Should Arkansas Get Away with Flouting the Supreme Court’s Requirements?”, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) reporter Sarah Turberville notes that “In many capital cases, the defendant’s mental health is a central issue,” which means, “The need for expert assistance in a capital trial is so vital that anything less violates the defendant’s rights to counsel and a fair trial.” She then calls out Arkansas as an “outlier” for its refusal to abide by the U.S. Supreme Court’s directive that defendants facing the death penalty be provided a mental health expert independent from the prosecution, and instead has “taken the position that a mental health exam by a doctor at the state hospital, who may or may not respond to requests for assistance from defense counsel, is sufficient to meet the demands of the Constitution.”
In its editorial, “Powerful Allies Across Party, Ideological Lines,” the Baton Rouge Advocate says “there are considerable reasons for optimism about passage of the [constitutional] Amendment” that will appear on the November 6 ballot that would change the law in felony trials to require a unanimous conviction by the jury. The Advocate’s optimism stems from the bill’s strong bipartisan support, especially the campaign an influential conservative Christian organization, the Forum, has conducted in support of the measure.The current law requires a 10-2 vote.