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Thread: Lisa Jo Chamberlin - Mississippi Death Row

  1. #11
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Mississippi: No discrimination in ex-death row inmate jury case

    NEW ORLEANS – A lawyer for the state of Mississippi argued Tuesday that there was no evidence prosecutors discriminated when picking the jury that eventually convicted Lisa Jo Chamberlin of the grisly 2004 murders of two people whose bodies were found in a freezer.

    The arguments came during a hearing at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals where Mississippi is seeking to overturn a judge's order finding discrimination in picking the jury that convicted Chamberlin and ordering her release.

    "I don't think that we have clear and convincing evidence here that discrimination occurred," Cameron Benton argued in front of the three judge panel.

    But Chamberlin's lawyer, Elizabeth Carlyle, urged the court to uphold the lower court's decision, saying that the integrity of the jury selection process was not "... some small issue."

    "It affects the whole system," she told the judges.

    Chamberlin was convicted along with Roger Gillett of the murders of two friends in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. She was convicted in 2006 and Gillett in 2007.

    The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves in March 2015 that threw out Chamberlin's conviction outlined the crime in which they're accused of brutally killing Linda Heintzelman and Heintzelman's boyfriend, Vernon Hulett. Their bodies were eventually discovered stacked one on top of another in a freezer at a home outside of Russell, Kansas.

    Police initially investigated Chamberlin and Gillett because they thought they were making crystal meth and searched the farm, which belonged to one of Gillett's relatives, as part of the investigation, the decision said. But in the freezer they found Hulett's decapitated body with his arms severed at the shoulders. Underneath it was Heintzelman's body, a plastic bag wrapped around her head with duct tape.

    Prosecutors said Gillett and Chamberlin fled Mississippi to cover their tracks and hide the crime. Chamberlin, in a taped confession played at her trial, said the victims were killed because they wouldn't open a safe in Hulett's home, according to the court record.

    Chamberlin was given the death penalty. But lawyers representing Chamberlin have fought the conviction, citing among other issues, alleged racial discrimination in picking the jury.

    Reeves agreed, finding that the "...jury selection process in her case impermissibly discriminated against African-American jurors." He zeroed in on two black potential jurors who were rejected by the prosecution even though they gave identical answers on a jury questionnaire to another juror who was white and was allowed to remain.

    The judge ordered her conviction and sentence to be thrown out and Chamberlin released from custody within 120 days unless the state granted her a new trial. As the state appealed the ruling, Chamberlin has remained behind bars in Mississippi.

    http://www.clarionledger.com/story/n...ease/85590048/

  2. #12
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    In today's opinions, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit AFFIRMED, by a two-to-one vote, the District Court's granting of Chamberlin's habeas petition. Judges Davis (Reagan) and Costa (Obama) voted to affirm. Judge Clement (G.W. Bush) dissented.

    http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions...-70012-CR0.pdf

  3. #13
    Senior Member CnCP Legend FFM's Avatar
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    The 5th Circuit is going to rehear this case en-banc.

    http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions...-70012-CR1.pdf

  4. #14
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    On the Fifth Circuit, in terms of active judges, Republican appointees currently have a nine-to-five advantage over Democratic appointees. I don't know whether Judge Davis, who voted to affirm the granting of Chamberlin's habeas petition, can vote en banc since he's a senior (i.e. semi-retired) judge. In addition, President Trump currently has three vacancies to fill on the Fifth Circuit.

  5. #15
    Senior Member CnCP Legend FFM's Avatar
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    Judge Davis is a senior judge now, so he can't participate. Trump will have a chance to fill 4 seats on the court when Judge Jolly retires in October. What's even more amusing to me is that 3 of 4 of our federal district courts are in a state of judicial emergency and desperately need to be filled by new judges, vacancies of which have been empty for YEARS. It's no surprise then why there is such a backlog of cases.
    Last edited by FFM; 07-11-2017 at 04:25 AM.

  6. #16
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    Hopefully, nominations for those federal district court seats are on the way. Senators Cornyn and Cruz will probably recommend lots of them and, obviously, blue-slip them.

  7. #17
    Senior Member Frequent Poster Shep3's Avatar
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    Right now the hold up is politics there are three people trying out for the two TX openings all with there own supporters but with an upcoming D.C. Circuit retirement one might get that seat so the other two can have these seats.

  8. #18
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    Fate of Mississippi's only female death row inmate remains in limbo

    By Jimmie E. Gates
    The Clarion-Ledger

    The fate of Mississippi's only female death row inmate, Lisa Jo Chamberlin, is in limbo two years after a federal court granted her a new trial in a double homicide in Hattiesburg.

    The full 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, with the exception of Judge James Graves, who recused himself, recently agreed to decide whether to uphold the federal judge's ruling. That comes after a three-judge panel of the court voted 2-1 to affirm the ruling.

    Graves is a former justice on the Mississippi Supreme Court, which had previously upheld Chamberlin's death sentence.

    On a motion by the Mississippi Attorney General, the 5th Circuit agreed to hear the case. Oral arguments are scheduled for Sept. 18.

    Special Assistant Attorney General Cameron Benton argued the two U.S. Court of Appeals judges put together unimpressive statistics and an incomplete comparative analysis to find the existence of discrimination in the striking of two black prospective jurors.

    "There is ample proof in the record to suggest that the exercise of peremptory strikes was not motivated by racial animus," Benton said in court papers. "Given the dearth of proof and the deference owed to the State Court, the Majority opinion seems to have improperly substituted its judgment for that of the trial judge and appellate court."

    In 2015, U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves ordered the state to grant Chamberlin a new trial within four months, saying prosecutors intentionally struck black potential jurors from her capital murder trial.

    Chamberlin is white. She argued on appeal that her rights were violated by prosecutors striking some black potential jurors for non-racial neutral reasons.

    "The judge went over them carefully," said attorney Elizabeth Unger Carlyle of Kansas City, Missouri, one of Chamberlin's attorneys in the appeal. "We were clearly able to show discrimination in cases of two of the potential jurors. We hope the judge's decision will be affirmed on appeal."

    Chamberlin and her boyfriend, Roger Lee Gillett, were convicted of two counts of capital murder in the March 2004 slayings of Gillet's cousin, Vernon Hulett, 34, and Hulett's girlfriend, Linda Heintzelman, 37, in Hattiesburg. Their bodies were transported to Kansas in a freezer.

    Gillett and Chamberlin were arrested March 29, 2004, after Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents raided an abandoned farm house near Russell, Kansas, owned by Gillett's father, and found the dismembered bodies of Hulett and Heintzelman in a freezer.

    KBI agents were investigating Gillett and Chamberlin for their possible connection to the manufacture of methamphetamine, according to published reports.

    Gillett and Chamberlin were living with Hulett and Heintzelman in Hattiesburg at the time of the slayings.

    Chamberlin, in a taped confession played at her trial, said the victims were killed because they wouldn't open a safe in Hulett's home.

    Both were sentenced to death row, Chamberlain in 2006 and Gillett in 2007; however, the Mississippi Supreme Court later overturned Gillett's death sentence.

    While in custody in Kansas, Gillett attempted to escape. That crime was one of the aggravating factors prosecutors presented jurors to support the death penalty.

    In a 6-3 decision, the Mississippi Supreme Court said not every escape is considered a crime of violence under Kansas law. Therefore, the Kansas crime could not be used to support a death sentence in Mississippi, the court ruled.

    Chamberlin filed a post-conviction challenge to her conviction in 2011 in U.S. District Court after the state Supreme Court upheld her conviction and death sentence.

    One of her claims was that the prosecution improperly struck seven African Americans from serving on her jury. The prosecutor said he struck 12 potential jurors — seven black and five white. He denied any effort to strike potential jurors based upon race.

    Reeves said federal law requires that in death penalty cases comparative analysis be done when black potential jurors are struck compared to white jurors who are allowed to remain in the jury pool.

    "Some may wonder why constitutional error in the jury's selection necessitates a new trial, especially given the horrific murders committed in this case," Reeves said in his court order. "But the Supreme Court has many times explained that a discriminatory jury selection process is unforgivable."

    http://www.clarionledger.com/story/n...mbo/525326001/

  9. #19
    Senior Member CnCP Legend CharlesMartel's Avatar
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    The Latest: Appeals Court re-examines reversed capital murder verdict of Lisa Jo Chamberlin

    NEW ORLEANS The latest on Mississippi prosecutors' appeal of a decision that granted a new trial to a woman convicted in a gruesome 2004 double murder in Mississippi:

    1:15 p.m. update:

    An attorney for the state of Mississippi has told federal judges that allegations of racial discrimination in jury selection should not have resulted in a new trial for a woman convicted in a gruesome 2004 murder.

    Arguments in the case of Lisa Jo Chamberlin were heard Tuesday by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

    Chamberlin is white. But she challenged the prosecution's striking of some black candidates from the jury that convicted her in the murders of Linda Heintzelman and Heintzelman's boyfriend, Vernon Hulett.

    Last March, a 5th Circuit panel voted 2-1 to grant her a new trial.

    But the full 15-member appeals court agreed in July to reconsider the case, resulting in Tuesday's hearing in New Orleans.

    8 a.m. update:

    Mississippi prosecutors are asking the full 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to reinstate the conviction of a woman in a 2004 double-slaying.

    Lisa Jo Chamberlin is white. But she challenged the prosecution's striking of some black candidates from the jury that convicted her in the murders of Linda Heintzelman and Heintzelman's boyfriend, Vernon Hulett.

    Last March, a 5th Circuit panel voted 2-1 to grant her a new trial, finding that there was evidence of discrimination against blacks in the selection of Chamberlin's jury. The panel noted precedents holding that defendants can challenge the exclusion of jurors of another race.

    The full 15-member appeals court agreed in July to re-hear the case. Arguments were scheduled for Tuesday morning.

    http://www.clarionledger.com/story/n...eal/682098001/

  10. #20
    Senior Member CnCP Legend FFM's Avatar
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    The full 5th Circuit reversed the panel's grant of Chamberlin's habeas petition.

    http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions...-70012-CR2.pdf

    Dissent by judges Stewart, Prado, Dennis, Costa, and Davis starts on page 20.

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