In her piece, “How the Supreme Court Stopped Fighting the “Machinery of Death”
In Balls and Strikes, Yvette Borja looks at how far the U.S. Supreme Court has strayed from “seriously considering whether the death penalty could ever be constitutional.” She notes that since the Court’s 1972 Furman v. Georgia decision, which found the death penalty unconstitutional, all five justices in the majority wrote concurrences clarifying their reasoning. All five addressed the inherent racism and classism and the obvious violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. But retiring Justice Stephen Breyer’s consistent dissents in death penalty cases notwithstanding, “Today’s Court, by contrast, only tinkers around the edges.”
In his op-ed, “An easy win for criminal justice reform: Independent crime labs,” in The Hill, Michael Kusluski argues that a crucial piece in criminal justice reform is “to require crime labs to become independent from police and prosecutor’s offices.” He maintains that this independence is essential, not only to remove the possibility of bias but also, even more critically, in the interests of “good science. . . . The issue is not that police administrators are manipulating the system to their benefit but rather that they are making unqualified decisions,” he writes.
In her Idaho Law Review article, “Narrowing Death Eligibility in Idaho: An Empirical and Constitutional Analysis,” Idaho College of Law Professor Aliza Cover questions whether Idaho’s death penalty scheme is constitutional. But while “most murderers are eligible for the death penalty, and death is imposed upon only a handful, there is a substantial constitutional argument (1) that the capital scheme fails to fulfill its narrowing function and (2) that the death penalty, when administered, is “cruel and unusual.”
In his review of the book, Redeeming Justice, Stephen F. Rohde says author Jarrett Adams “[Combines] the passion of Bryan Stevenson with the storytelling of John Grisham.” Adams tells the story of how he, a Black man, was wrongfully convicted of the rape of a white woman and sentenced to 28 years in prison by an all-white jury in a trial presided over by a white female judge. Released after eight years, when the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals vacated his conviction in 2006, he returned to college, eventually earning a law degree and joining the Innocence Project in New York City. “It is a remarkable story of tenacity, hard work, and genuine achievement,” Rohde writes.