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High Court Stays Execution Where Judge Overrode Jury Recommendation

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 violated if the jury was not permitted to

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High Court Tosses Appeal Court’s Try to Save Inmate Tort Claim

By Christopher Zoukis Two Maryland state corrections officers were escorting Shaidon Blake as he was being transferred to a new cell in the west Baltimore prison where he is serving time for murder. Known as “Papa Don,” Blake was an enforcer for the California Bloods who had been sent to Baltimore to impose discipline on

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Supreme Court Accepts Two New Texas Death Penalty Challenges

By Christopher Zoukis   Although challenges to the death penalty have not fared all that well at the Supreme Court in recent years, its new term starting in October will contain at least two more cases brought by Death Row inmates. On June 6, the high court agreed to take up two separate appeals brought

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Excluding Black Jurors Voids Long-Ago Murder Conviction

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 eventually lead a state court to find his

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Redistricting Can Count Prisoners and Other Non-Voters, High Court Rules

By Christopher Zoukis Rejecting a lawsuit filed by conservatives trying to rewrite the longstanding “one man, one vote” rule for drawing the lines for political districts, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled it is acceptable for states not to count just eligible voters, but to instead use the number of total residents. As a result,

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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 prohibiting such practices. The case

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

This past week saw the handing down of an important ruling in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals regarding the rights of prisoners; specifically a prisoner’s right not to be sexually abused by prison officials. If you’re questioning how this could even have been a question before the Supreme Court, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

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