High Court Stays Execution Where Judge Overrode Jury Recommendation

By Christopher Zoukis A little over two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court in Hurst v. Florida ruled 8-1 it was unconstitutional for state judges to overrule jury sentencing recommendations in death penalty cases. The high court ruled a criminal defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a trial by jury was…

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High Court Will Hear Inmate’s Challenge to Lawyer’s Admission of His Guilt

lady justice figure

By Christopher Zoukis During its new term started in October, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case of McCoy v. Louisiana, which asks whether a Death Row inmate can appeal a death sentence because his lawyer, over the inmate’s strenuous objections, admitted his client’s guilt during his trial. Robert…

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Excluding Black Jurors Voids Long-Ago Murder Conviction

By Christopher Zoukis In a landmark 7-1 decision earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court voided a nearly 30-year-old murder conviction of a black inmate in Georgia due to prosecutors’ efforts to keep black jurors from hearing the case. Timothy Tyrone Foster, an 18-year-old youth with mental disabilities (which would…

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Prosecutor’s Non-Disclosure Leads to High Court Reversal of Death-Row Prisoner’s Conviction

By Christopher Zoukis The U.S. Supreme Court has handed down a per curiam (“by the court”) order reversing the murder conviction 14 years earlier of a Louisiana death-row inmate. In the fairly unusual per curiam procedure, the Justices decided the case based only on briefs filed by both sides on…

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Changing tides on mandatory life sentences for juveniles

Important changes may be ahead for juvenile offenders convicted of murder in the state of Iowa. The Iowa Supreme Court will decide whether sentences of life in prison, without the possibility of parole, for juvenile offenders falls under the category of cruel and unusual punishment under the state’s constitution, thus…

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When is sexual abuse not sexual abuse? When it happens to a prisoner.

 Public service campaign from justdetention.org This past week saw the handing down of an important ruling in Second Circuit Court of Appeals regarding the rights of prisoners; specifically a prisoner’s right not to be sexual abused by prison officials. If you’re questioning how this could even have been a question…

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