The problems with Alabama’s July execution of Joe Nathan James, Jr., during which it took the execution team three hours to kill him because of their difficulty finding a usable vein for the lethal injection drugs, make it clear that the men and women in the execution chamber need, and should be guaranteed the right to have their lawyers present, with access to a phone, during the execution process. So, it was inexplicable when the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last month against the men who challenged Oklahoma’s policy of terminating their lawyers’ presence two hours prior to the execution. As Austin Sarat writes in Justia, it said “more about the Tenth Circuit panel’s desire to allow Oklahoma to get on with the business of carrying out executions than it does about the real risk of botched lethal injections.”
Racism and the death penalty will be the topic of an episode of the Catholic Mobilizing Network’s podcast, “Church and Race.” Co-produced by CMN and the Catholic News Service, the episode features CMN Executive Director Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, Sr. Helen Prejean, Death Penalty Information Center Deputy Director Ngozi Ndulue, and Ohio Council of Churches Executive Director Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan.
“Confession evidence imposes significant harms on our criminal justice system, through false convictions and other violations of defendants’ due process and moral rights,” Guha Krishnamurthi writes in his SMU Law Review article, “The Case for the Abolition of Criminal Confessions.” He argues that confession evidence should be disallowed in criminal proceedings because it “and the methods to obtain it, impose significant harms on defendants in terms of their due process and moral rights, due to the pressures of interrogation.”
“In Mississippi, attorneys who represent the indigent in criminal cases have to deal with an underfunded public-defender system that lacks statewide funding and oversight,” writes Zhu Wu in Mississippi Today. Wu notes that in “an ideal criminal justice system,” law enforcement, prosecution, and defense would all be equally funded, but the state spends “significantly less money” on the public defender’s office than on the district attorney’s, and the result is that in the state’s 82 counties, “only eight have full-time public defender offices, while the vast majority of counties hire part-time contractors to provide legal representation.”