Death Penalty News

Bias & Discrimination

In Landmark Decision, North Carolina Supreme Court Strikes Down Retroactive Application of Racial Justice Act Repeal

After the North Carolina Legislature repealed the state's Racial Justice Act in 2013, which had given prisoners the opportunity to challenge their sentences using evidence of racial bias, the North Carolina Supreme Court vacated the new reduced sentences that had been secured due to the RJA. In June 2020, that same court held that retroactive application of the RJA repeal was unconstitutional, allowing those who had applied for relief before the repeal to receive new hearings.

Death Penalty

Missouri Becomes First State to Carry out Execution During Pandemic

Missouri became the first U.S. state to carry out an execution during the COVID-19 pandemic with the lethal injection of Walter Barton, who was tried five times before the State could secure a conviction and death sentence that was not successfully appealed. Despite the many documented impediments on the ability of Mr. Barton's counsel to properly investigate claims and meet with their client due to the pandemic, Missouri Governor Mike Parson denied clemency without comment.

Death Penalty

After Nearly 30 Years on Death Row, All Charges Against Walter Ogrod are Dismissed

In June 2020, Pennsylvania death row prisoner Walter Ogrod had all charges against him dropped. Mr. Ogrod served nearly 30 years on death row for a murder he claimed not to have committed and despite no evidence linking him to the crime. Mr. Ogrod was freed after a Philadelphia Conviction Integrity Unity reviewed his case and uncovered unreliable evidence, prosecutorial misconduct, and due process violations.

Supreme Court News

Lethal Injection Litigation Update

Death Penalty

Two States Ordered to Provide Execution Protocol Details

Nebraska and Oklahoma were recently ordered to provide greater detail on their lethal injection protocols. Oklahoma was required to explain how it plans to train prison staff involved in executions due to a series of botched executions that occurred in 2014-2015. In Nebraska, the State Supreme Court ended years of litigation by requiring the Department of Corrections to share documents regarding its acquisition of lethal injection drugs.

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Project Press is the newsletter of the ABA Death Penalty Representation Project. Each issue contains news about the Project, clients in need of pro bono assistance, death penalty cases and opinions, training opportunities, and much more!

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