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  1. #1
    Moh's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
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    Federal Capital Punishment News

    December 23, 2010

    Obama administration readies first execution

    The Justice Department is making preparations for what could be the first federal execution under President Barack Obama, according to a new court filing.

    The Bureau of Prisons gave notice to a federal judge Wednesday that it intends to set an execution date for Jeffery Paul, 34. Paul was convicted in 1997 and sentenced to death for the robbery-murder of an 82-year-old retired National Park Service employee, Sherman Williams, on federal land in Hot Springs, Ark., in 1995.

    Plans for the execution were disclosed by Justice Department lawyers in a lawsuit pending in Washington over federal lethal injection procedures. Several federal death-row prisoners are covered by a stay entered in that suit, but Paul is not among them, since U.S. District Court Judge Richard Roberts denied Paul permission to join the case earlier this year, saying he had waited too long.

    "Paul is not a party to this suit nor has he received a stay barring his execution in another jurisdiction. Given this posture, the U.S. Department of Justice respectfully informs the court of its intent to set an execution date for Paul. ... Any date set for Paul’s execution will be at least 120 days after the filing of this notice," said the filing submitted by the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, Ronald Machen.

    Officials in the press offices at Justice Department headquarters and at the Bureau of Prisons said they had no additional information on preparations to execute Paul, who is on death row at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind.

    A lawyer for Paul, Robert McGlasson, also said he had no details on the government's plans to move forward with the death penalty for his client. "As for the immediacy of a possible execution date, we know nothing more than what you have seen in the government's filing," McGlasson said in an e-mail responding to a query from POLITICO.

    McGlasson said that Paul suffers from "severe mental illness" and that he should be permitted to join the suit brought by other federal death-row inmates. The lawyer noted that a motion asking Roberts to reconsider his ruling is pending.

    "We also believe, of course, that until this matter particularly, and the overall ... lawsuit, generally, are resolved, it is premature for the government to set an execution date on Mr. Paul," McGlasson wrote.

    Three executions took place in the federal system under President George W. Bush, including that of Oklahoma City federal building bomber Timothy McVeigh in 2001. The last execution was in March 2003. Before McVeigh was put to death by lethal injection, the federal government went almost four decades without carrying out an execution.

    The 120-day period before an execution is designed to allow for court challenges as well as the filing of a commutation petition with the president. McGlasson said no such petition has been filed at this point.

    Unlike his two most recent predecessors, Obama never had involvement before he became president with carrying out the death penalty or handing requests for clemency. However, he did work on reforms to state death penalty laws in Illinois while he was a state legislator there.

    While a candidate for president, Obama said he supported the death penalty in the case of "heinous" crimes. "I have said repeatedly that I think that the death penalty should be applied in very narrow circumstances, for the most egregious of crimes,” Obama said when criticizing a Supreme Court decision that rejected death sentences for child rape.

  2. #2
    Moh's Avatar
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    July 29, 2011

    Feds plan changes to death penalty procedure

    By Josh Gerstein

    It's increasingly likely that President Barack Obama will serve out his entire first-term without presiding over the execution of a prisoner on federal death row, after the federal government decided to move forward with revisions to its death penalty procedures.

    The Justice Department informed a federal judge Thursday about its plans to revise the so-called protocol for executions. Government lawyers gave no reason for the changes, but they likely stem from a shortage of the key drug used in most lethal injection executions in recent decades, sodium thiopental.

    "The Federal Bureau of Prisons has decided to modify its lethal injection protocol but the protocol revisions have not yet been finalized," government lawyers wrote in a court filing in a case challenging the constitutionality of the federal execution process. The Justice Department offered no timeline for completing the new protocol, but offered to update the court monthly on the progress. A spokeswoman for the department said she had no information beyond the brief statement in the court filing.

    Federal executions have been effectively halted since 2006, when a judge blocked executions for three inmates. Three additional prisoners have been subsquently added to the injunction.

    "We're in the midst of this litigation and the judge was about to say looks like the protocol meets the standards, but now they're going to have to stop and go back and look at that again," said Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes capital punishment.

    Since the Justice Department agrees that the prisoners who brought the challenge to the current protocol will be entitled to detailed information about the protocol and how it was developed, it seems likely that the legal process of green lighting it could extend through next fall's election.

    "They're going to need time just to see what's happening, then the judge will make a decision. Either side will appeal to the circuit court and possibly the U.S. Supreme Court. I think it will take a year at a minimum but it's hard to predict," Dieter said.

    Just last December, the Justice Department said it was ready to move forward with setting an execution date for Jeffrey Paul, who was convicted in 1997 of the shooting death of a retired, 82-year-old National Park Service employee, Sherman Williams. However, no execution date was ever set for Paul, who is not covered by the injunction.

    Most executions in the U.S. are carried out by the states, which handle most murder cases. There are currently 58 prisoners on federal death row, according to DPIC. The last federal executions were three under President George W. Bush, beginning with the execution of Oklahoma City bomber Tim McVeigh in 2001. The last previous federal execution was in 1963.

    Unlike his two predecessors who had served as governors before coming to the White House, Obama has never presided over an execution or the question of whether to grant a reprieve to someone on death row. He does have some familiarity with the issue, though, since he pursued death penalty reform as a state legislator in Illinois.

    UPDATE: A Justice Department spokeswoman confirms that the planned changes to the federal death penalty protocol are the result of the shortage of the key drug. "BOP is currently in the process of modifying its protocol to address the issue of the lack of availability of sodium thiopental," spokeswoman Gina Talamona said Tuesday afternoon.

    Talamona said the drug shortage is what led to the department not following through with the plan it announced last December to proceed with Paul's execution. No executions are currently scheduled, she said.

  3. #3
    Moh's Avatar
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    Who's on federal death row?

    The federal death penalty, overturned in 1972, was reinstated in 1988. Since then, 69 defendants have been sentenced to death and three have been executed, Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber and Juan Raul Garza, a drug trafficker convicted in the murders of three rivals, the two executed a week apart in 2001; and Louis Jones Jr., who raped and murdered his estranged wife, put to death in in 2003. (Seven others were removed from death row.)

    The 59 men and women on federal Death Row

    Johnson, Corey, VA, 1993 Sentenced to death for his participation in a series of drug-related murders. (Co-defendant with Richard Tipton & James H. Roane, Jr.)

    Roane, Jr., James H., VA, 1993 Richmond gang member who participated in a series of drug-related murders. (Co-defendant with Corey Johnson & Richard Tipton)

    Tipton, Richard, VA, 1993 Richmond gang member convicted for his role in a series of drug-related murders. (Co-defendant with Corey Johnson & James H. Roane, Jr.)

    Webster, Bruce, TX, 1996 Charged with the abduction, sexual assault, and beating death of a 16-year-old female. (Co-defendant with Orlando Hall)

    Battle, Anthony, GA, 1997 Sentenced to death for the murder of a prison guard.

    Paul, Jeffrey Williams, AR, 1997 Robbed and murdered a retired National Park employee on federal land.

    Allen, Billy Jerome, MO, 1998 Fatally shot a bank guard during a robbery in St. Louis. (Co-defendant with Norris Holder)

    Barnette, Marcivicci Aquilia, NC, 1998 Killed his ex-girlfriend and another man in a carjacking.

    Hammer, David Paul, PA 1998 Killed a fellow inmate in a federal prison in Penn.

    Holder, Norris , MO, 1998 Shot and killed a bank guard during a robbery in St. Louis. (Co-defendant with Billie Jerome Allen)

    Purkey, Wesley, MO, 1998 Sentenced to death for the kidnapping, rape, and murder of a Kansas City teen.

    Bernard, Brandon, TX, 2000 Convicted at the age of 18 for carjacking and murdering a couple visting Texas. (Co-defendant with Christopher Vialva)

    Higgs, Dustin, MD, 2000 Murdered three women after arguing with one of them in his apartment.

    Ortiz, Arboleda, MO, 2000 Participated in the murder of a drug dealer. (Co-defendant with German Sinistera, who died on death row)

    Vialva, Christopher, TX, 2000 Took part in the murder of a couple visiting Texas; Was 19-years-old at the time of his arrest. (Co-defendant with Brandon Bernard)

    Jackson, Richard Allen, NC, 2001 Convicted of use of a firearm on federal property (Bend Creek Recreation Area) during a felony resulting in the death of the victim.

    LeCroy, Jr., William, GA, 2001 Sentenced to death for the carjacking and murder of a North Georgia woman.

    Gabrion, Marvin, MI, 2002 Sentenced to death for a 1997 murder in Michigan's Manistee National Forest. Death sentence overturned by 6th Circuit (Aug. 3, 2011); panel overruled by en banc 6th Cir. (Nov. 2011).

    Lee, Danny, AR, 2002 Carried out the triple murder of a gun dealer and his family.

    Nelson, Keith D., MO, 2002 Convicted of kidnapping a girl from her home in Kansas and murdering her.

    Robinson, Julius, TX, 2002 Killed two men in drug-related incidents in Ft. Worth

    Brown, Meier Jason, GA, 2003 Convicted of murdering a 48-year-old postal worker.

    Mitchell, Lezmond, AZ, 2003 Killed a woman and her nine-year-old son after getting a ride from them; stole the car and used it in an armed robbery.

    Sampson, Gary, MA 2003 Pled guilty to the carjacking and murder of two Massachusetts men during a weeklong crime spree. Death sentence overturned, Oct. 2011.

    Agofsky, Shannon, TX, 2004 Murder of an inmate at a federal prison in Texas.

    Basham, Brandon, SC, 2004 Kidnapped and murdered a 44-year-old woman during his co-defendant's escape from prison. (Co-defendant with Chadrick Fulks)

    Bourgeois, Alfred, TX, 2004 Murdered his daughter at the Corpus Christi (TX) Naval Air Station.

    Corly, Odell (Naish Ra'id), IN, 2004 Murdered two bank employees during a robbery attempt.

    Fields, Sherman Lamont, TX, 2004 Shot and killed his girlfriend after he escaped from a detention center where he was being held on a federal weapons charge.

    Fulks, Chadrick, SC, 2004 Kidnapped and killed a woman after escaping from a Kentucky jail. (Co-defendant with Branden Basham)

    Honken, Dustin, IA, 2004 Sentenced to death for the muder of two girls, ages 10 and 6 who were witnesses to the murder of their mother; Honken received a life sentence for the mother's murder. (Co-defendant with Angela Johnson)

    Barrett, Kenneth Eugene, OK, 2005 Murdered a state police officer during a drug crime.

    Davis, Len, LA, 2005 Ordered the murder of a young woman who witnessed his beating of a witness in an unrelated incident.

    Fell, Donald, VT, 2005 Convicted of carjacking and kidnapping resulting in death.

    Fields, Edward, OK, 2005 Former prison guard convicted of murdering two white campers while wearing a homemade sniper suit; may be mentally ill.

    Johnson, Angela IA 2005 Aided in four of the five murders by a drug kingpin. (Co-defendant with Dustin Honken). Death sentence overturned by Dist. Ct. because of ineffectiveness of counsel on Mar. 22, 2012. Awaiting further litigation.

    Lighty, Kenneth, MD, 2005 Kidnapped and murdered an alleged PCP dealer and son of a Washington, D.C. police lieutenant.

    Mikos, Ronald, IL, 2005 A Chicago podiatrist who shot and killed a former patient to prevent her from testifying in a federal probe of a Medicare fraud scheme.

    Bolden, Robert, MO, 2006 Killed a bank security guard during an attempted robbery in St. Louis

    Jackson, David Lee TX 2006 Killed a fellow inmate at the federal prison in Beaumont, TX. Jackson's death sentence was overturned in March 2013 in District Court.

    Lawrence, Daryl, OH, 2006 Murdered a police officer during an attempted bank robbery in Columbus.

    Rodriguez, Jr., Alfonso, ND, 2006 Convicted of the kidnapping and murder of a college student.

    Caro, Carlos, WV, 2007 Killed his cellmate; Both were reportedly members of a gang called the Texas Syndicate.

    Hager, Thomas, VA, 2007 Convicted of a drug-related murder.

    Hall, Orlando, TX, 2007 Abducted, raped, beat, and murdered a 16-year-old female in Ft. Worth. (Co-defendant with Bruce Webster)

    Kadamovas, Jurijus, CA, 2007 Convicted of murders in a kidnapping-for-ransom scheme targeting Russian immigrants. (Co-defendant with Iouri Mikhel)

    Mikhel, Iouri, CA, 2007 Took part in murders in a kidnapping-for-ransom scheme targeting Russian immigrants. (Co-defendant with Jurijus Kadamovas)

    Montgomery, Lisa, MO, 2007 Kidnapped and killed a woman and stole her unborn baby, claiming the baby was hers.

    Wilson, Ronell NY 2007 Killed 2 undercover police detectives in a drug crime

    Duncan. Joseph, ID, 2008 Pleaded guilty to ten federal charges, including the kidnapping and murders of a young boy and girl in 2005.

    Taylor, Rejon, TN, 2008 Convicted of carjacking, kidnapping, and murdering a businessman from Atlanta, GA.

    Ebron, Joseph, TX, 2009 Murdered a fellow inmate at a federal prison in Beaumont, TX.

    Runyon, David, VA, 2009 Shot and killed a Naval officer in a murder-for-hire plot in Newport News.

    Sanchez, Jr., Ricardo, FL, 2009 Murdered two children on the Florida Turnpike in 2006; Also received life sentences for murdering the children's parents. (Co-defendant with Daniel Troya)

    Troya, Daniel, FL, 2009 Killed two children, as well as their parents on the Florida Turnpike in 2006 allegedly because of a drug debt. (Co-defendant with Ricardo Sanchez, Jr.)

    Garcia, Edgar, TX, 2010 Murdered a fellow inmate; also stabbed and wounded two corrections officers. (Co-defendant with Mark Snarr)

    Snarr, Mark, TX, 2010 Killed a fellow inmate and stabbed and wounded two corrections officers at the U.S. Penitentiary in Beaumont. (Co-defendant with Edgar Garcia)

    Umana, Alejandro, NC, 2010 MS-13 gang member who killed two brothers in a Greensboro restaurant.

    Aquart, Azibo, CT, 2012 A triple murder of multiple alleged rivals in the drug business by leaders of a Jamaican drug gang.

    Federal crimes that allow for the death penalty

    * Murder related to the smuggling of aliens
    * Destruction of aircraft, motor vehicles, or related facilities resulting in death
    * Murder committed during a drug-related drive-by shooting
    * Murder committed at an airport serving international civil aviation
    * Retaliatory murder of a member of the immediate family of law enforcement officials
    * Civil rights offenses resulting in death
    * Murder of a member of Congress, an important executive official, or a Supreme Court Justice
    * Espionage
    * Death resulting from offenses involving transportation of explosives, destruction of government property, or destruction of property related to foreign or interstate commerce
    * Murder committed by the use of a firearm during a crime of violence or a drug-trafficking crime
    * Murder committed in a Federal Government facility
    * Genocide
    * First-degree murder
    * Murder of a Federal judge or law enforcement official
    * Murder of a foreign official
    * Murder by a Federal prisoner
    * Murder of a US national in a foreign country
    * Murder by an escaped Federal prisoner already sentenced to life imprisonment
    * Murder of a State or local law enforcement official or other person aiding in a Federal investigation; murder of a State correctional officer
    * Murder during a kidnapping
    * Murder during a hostage taking
    * Murder of a court officer or juror
    * Murder with the intent of preventing testimony by a witness, victim, or informant
    * Retaliatory murder of a witness, victim, or informant
    * Mailing of injurious articles with intent to kill or resulting in death
    * Assassination or kidnapping resulting in the death of the President or Vice President
    * Murder for hire
    * Murder involved in a racketeering offense
    * Willful wrecking of a train resulting in death
    * Bank-robbery-related murder or kidnapping
    * Murder related to a carjacking
    * Murder related to rape or child molestation
    * Murder related to sexual exploitation of children
    * Murder committed during an offense against maritime navigation
    * Murder committed during an offense against a maritime fixed platform
    * Terrorist murder of a US national in another country
    * Murder by the use of a weapon of mass destruction
    * Murder involving torture
    * Treason
    * Murder related to a continuing criminal enterprise or related murder of a Federal, State, or local law enforcement officer
    * Death resulting from aircraft hijacking

  4. #4
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    Oct 2010
    Death-penalty ruling goes against Justice Dept.

    In a nationwide ruling, a Bay Area federal judge has blocked the Justice Department from authorizing states to put their death penalty cases on a "fast track" once they reach federal court, with tight schedules for inmate appeals and judicial rulings.

    A 2005 federal law, which has never taken effect, allowed the Justice Department to approve fast-track authority for any state that appointed competent, adequately paid lawyers to represent condemned prisoners. But Chief U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken said Wednesday that the Obama administration's rules that were supposed to implement the law failed to require states to show the lawyers they provided were competent.

    A 1996 law that established the fast-track process gave federal judges, rather than the Justice Department, the power to decide whether a state had a system of competent legal representation for death row inmates. Judges have turned down every state that has applied for fast-track authority, including California in 2000.

    Wilken's injunction, in a suit by defense lawyers in California and Arizona, leave the 1996 law in effect.

    Prisoners whose convictions have been upheld in state court have the right to seek federal court review, which in capital cases can last anywhere from two years to a decade or more.

    The fast-track process would give a condemned prisoner six months, instead of the current one-year deadline, to file a federal appeal after the final decision in a state court. A federal judge would then have 15 months to rule on the appeal, and a federal appeals court would have a four-month deadline after receiving all written arguments.

    The current Justice Department proposal would set standards for experience and training of attorneys in federal death row cases, but would allow a state to appoint lawyers who didn't meet those standards if the state could "reasonably assure a level of proficiency" needed for such cases.

    Wilken said the proposal "provides no substantive criteria" for qualified lawyers and also fails to require a state to show it has complied with the law, shifting the burden to inmates and their attorneys to show that a state's procedures for appointing attorneys are inadequate.

    She also said the Justice Department's proposal would apply fast-track deadlines retroactively to the date that a state established its current system of appointing lawyers, potentially disqualifying some inmates from filing a federal appeal.

    There was no immediate comment from the Justice Department, which could appeal the ruling or rewrite its regulations. But the ruling was denounced by attorney Kent Scheidegger of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, who filed arguments on behalf of Marc Klaas, father of 12-year-old Polly Klaas of Petaluma, who was kidnapped and strangled in 1993. Her convicted murderer, Richard Allen Davis, was sentenced to death in 1996.

    "Many states have done what Congress required and provided adequate counsel," but the law is still being delayed for no good reason, Scheidegger said.
    A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

  5. #5
    Moh's Avatar
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    According to the Wall Street Journal there has been a federal moratorium on executions since 2011 without anyone in the government having announced it!

    Justice Department Expands Review of Death-Penalty Procedures

    The Justice Department has launched a review of state-run executions of death-row inmates, after President Barack Obama raised concerns about a botched execution earlier this week in Oklahoma. A department spokesman said the agency would begin a review of state-run death-penalty programs, similar to one it has been conducting on federal capital punishment. Federal executions are rare, and there has been a moratorium in place since 2011 while the Justice Department reviews its policies. "The department is currently conducting a review of the federal protocol used by the Bureau of Prisons, and has a moratorium in place on federal executions in the meantime," said the spokesman, Brian Fallon. "At the president's direction, the department will expand this review to include a survey of state-level protocols and related policy issues."

    Mr. Obama, speaking at a news conference Friday after a bilateral meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, called the seemingly flawed execution "deeply troubling" and said he would discuss with Attorney General Eric Holder this particular case and an analysis of U.S. death penalty practices more broadly.

    The Oklahoma execution highlights some of the wider problems with U.S. death-penalty practices, he said. Mr. Obama supports the death penalty, and noted the Oklahoma inmate's "heinous" crime, but he has raised questions about it, including racial bias in the American justice system.

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