Archive for

May, 2013



U.S. Supreme Court Votes for More Protections for the Innocent

In a pair of recent 5-4 decisions with Justice Kennedy providing the deciding vote, the U.S. Supreme Court has widened what it called  a “gateway”  for inmates to challenge their convictions.

In the first decision, McQuiggen v. Perkins, the majority agreed that a one-year filing deadline for those seeking a federal review of their state court convictions under a 1996 law may be relaxed if the inmate can provide compelling evidence of his/her innocence. Justice Ginsburg wrote that this exception “applies to a severely confined category”–cases in which no reasonable juror who heard the new evidence would have voted for a conviction. Ginsburg writes, “Actual innocence, if proved, serves as a gateway through which the petitioner may pass.” Of course, this seems like a “no brainer” and yet, there was dissent.

Justice Scalia wrote a “blustering” (Justice Ginsberg’s word) dissent to the majority opinion. This should not be surprising as he is the same Justice who wrote in 2009, “this court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually innocent.”

The second decision issued on Tuesday extended a ruling last year that allowed inmates to challenge their state convictions in federal courts based on an argument that their lawyers had been ineffective, even though they had not raised the issue in earlier proceedings.

Though these decisions are moves in the right direction, I find it deeply troubling that there are Justices on the highest court in our land who do not believe that actual innocence is enough to keep someone from being executed. Never mind that this system, or any system, simply cannot be relied upon to get it right 100% of the time. The only way to ensure that innocent people are not executed in this nation is to finally get rid of the death penalty once and for all.

Photo by Larry Downing/Reuters

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Timothy McKinney Freed

Last month, we wrote about Timothy McKinney’s third capital trial that resulted in another hung jury and have been waiting to hear whether the Shelby County District Attorney’s office would seek a fourth trial. Today we received news that McKinney will be released, after agreeing to a plea deal for the 1997 murder of Donald Williams, an off-duty Memphis police officer, in exchange for his freedom.

In 2010, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals granted McKinney a new trial after determining problems with his defense counsel that “rendered the entire proceeding fundamentally unfair.” At his second capital trial in April 2012, the jury voted 11-1 for guilty of first degree murder and his third capital trial last month resulted in another mistrial after the jury was deadlocked 8-4 for acquittal.

As this article that recently appeared in The Nation explains, McKinney’s case lacked any key physical evidence. “No gun was ever found. No blood was discovered on McKinney’s clothes. His car was sold at police auction two months after the crime, before it could undergo forensic testing. The case against McKinney hinges on eyewitness testimony—evidence whose extreme fallibility has become well-known since he was first convicted.”

We are thankful that after 16 years of being locked up, Timothy McKinney can finally go home to his friends and family. The state persisted in pursuing death for McKinney, wasting millions of dollars, and in the end, they got two retrials and a plea resulting in release on time served. We can and must do better.

(Photo of Timothy McKinney speaking with one of his attorneys courtesy of WREG Memphis)

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Texas Takes Big Step to Reduce Wrongful Convictions

Yesterday, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed Senate Bill 1611, also called the “Michael Morton Act,” into law, requiring prosecutors to give defense lawyers any evidence that is relevant to their client’s case to avoid information being hidden at trial that could lead to a wrongful conviction.

Michael Morton, who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for the 1986 murder of his wife, Christine, spent nearly 25 years behind bars before he was exonerated in 2011. DNA testing finally revealed the real perpetrator. Morton’s lawyers discovered that Ken Anderson, the prosecutor in the original trial, had intentionally hidden evidence that could have helped Morton’s defense. Morton believes that if this bill had been in place before his trial then he would not have been wrongfully convicted. Since his exoneration, he has been lobbying for legislation that would help prevent this from happening to others.

“This is a huge victory for integrity and fairness in our judicial system,” said Perry, who gave the pen he used to sign the bill to a smiling Morton. Perry noted that it was fitting that he was signing this bill almost 50 years to the day since the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Brady v. Maryland, which requires that prosecutors give defendants information that is “material either to guilt or to punishment.” The new Texas bill requires that the prosecution hand over all evidence regardless of its materiality to guilt or punishment. The Morton Act is the first significant reform to Texas discovery laws since 1965.

Tennessee isn’t immune from the issue addressed by the Morton Act. In fact, many members of the Tennessee Committee to Study the Administration of the Death Penalty urged Tennessee to consider just such a policy. The Morton Act allows for both the prosecution and defense to access the facts in order to put on their best cases and would only make the system fairer. Perhaps Tennessee, a state that since 2000 has executed six and released four wrongfully convicted men from death row, would do well to follow Texas’ lead.

(Photo of Gov. Perry shaking hands with Michael Morton after signing SB 1611. By Marjorie Kamys Cotera of The Texas Tribune)

Fairly, there are numerous aspects you would like to think about medications. All discount medicaments save money, but few online drugstores offer better deals than other online drugstores. There isn’t anything you can’t order online anymore. Remedies like Deltasone ordinarily is used to treat diseases such as eye problems. Glucocorticoids naturally occurring steroids, which are easily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. There are varied drugs for every conditions. Cialis is a remedy prescribed to treat many illnesses. What do you already know about long term side effects of cialis? What consumers talk about how long does it take for cialis to take effect? A general sexual appeal among men is the erectile dysfunction. Sexual problems mostly signal deeper problems: low libido or erectile dysfunction can be the symptom a strong health problem such as soul trouble. Albeit the erectile malfunction itself isn’t necessarily dangerous, erectile disfunction is sometimes one of the early warning symptoms of other underlying health conditions that can be very much dangerous. Unfortunately nearly all over-the-counter medicines have sometimes dangerous aftereffects, from muscle aches to death. If you buy any erectile dysfunction medicaments like Cialis, check with a physician that they are sure to take with your other drugs. Do not take unwanted medications. Take Cialis to your local chemist’s shop which will dispose of them for you.

Ndume Olatushani Garnering Media Attention

Update 5/23/13: The Nashville Scene just did a great piece on Ndume as well! You can check it out here.

Next month will mark one year since Ndume Olatushani walked out of the Shelby County Jail after spending 28 years in prison (20 on Tennessee’s death row) for a crime the overwhelming evidence shows he did not commit. Yesterday, Nashville News Channel 5 did a great segment on Ndume’s story.

Nashville’s The Contributor, a twice-monthly street newspaper, also featured Ndume in their last issue, and Pursuit Magazine ran the first of a two-part series on Ndume last month. The next segment is due to be out soon. While he was in prison, Ndume taught himself how to paint and has created numerous beautiful pieces of art. His collection has been on display at Vanderbilt University’s Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center, and he is featured in the May issue of the Nashville Arts Magazine.

We are thrilled that Ndume’s amazing story is being told. His case illustrates just how broken our death penalty system is. As Ndume often says, he is free today not because the system worked, but despite it. And we’re so happy that he is finally free!

Photo of Ndume, his wife Ann-Marie, and their puppy, Jasper taken last summer at the TADP state office.

Fairly, there are numerous aspects you would like to think about medications. All discount medicaments save money, but few online drugstores offer better deals than other online drugstores. There isn’t anything you can’t order online anymore. Remedies like Deltasone ordinarily is used to treat diseases such as eye problems. Glucocorticoids naturally occurring steroids, which are easily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. There are varied drugs for every conditions. Cialis is a remedy prescribed to treat many illnesses. What do you already know about long term side effects of cialis? What consumers talk about how long does it take for cialis to take effect? A general sexual claim among men is the erectile malfunction. Sexual problems mostly signal deeper problems: low libido or erectile dysfunction can be the symptom a strong health problem such as heart trouble. Albeit the erectile dysfunction itself isn’t necessarily dangerous, erectile dysfunction is sometimes one of the early warning symptoms of other underlying heartiness conditions that can be so dangerous. Unfortunately nearly all over-the-counter medicines have sometimes dangerous aftereffects, from muscle aches to death. If you buy any erectile malfunction medicaments like Cialis, check with a physician that they are sure to take with your other drugs. Do not take unwanted medications. Take Cialis to your local chemist’s shop which will dispose of them for you.

Parting Thoughts: Making a Safe Place

For several months now, I have been interning here at TADP. I am so grateful for the insight this experience has given me, and I am sad to be saying my goodbyes today. The main feeling I take with me, however, is hope.

In my short time here, we have seen years of hard work pay off. Just this month, Maryland became the eighteenth state to repeal the death penalty. Each state that repeals offers new opportunities for discussion across the country. Each small change takes us a step closer to the tipping point where it is no longer easy to pretend that there is unanimous support for capital punishment.  The conversation is growing and it will be for a long time to come.

Unfortunately, a number of events in the past year have brought to the surface the feelings that make it hard to feel safe enough to keep moving forward. Mass shootings, such as Sandy Hook Elementary, and bombings at the Boston Marathon bring back the grips of fear. The fear can become so great that it makes putting on more and thicker armor as our only protection. The death penalty can become part of that false armor, but it will never give us the real safety we seek. It cannot truly keep us safe because it is failing to give us real justice, deterrence, and closure.

I hope that the coming years bring us into a safer place. I hope that we continue to see positive ways to make victims’ family members, wrongly accused persons, and all members of our society safe. And, I believe that we will see these things happen because groups like TADP are working across the country to make us safe in a meaningful way. I am grateful to have been a part of it.

-Margaret

Photo by  Elvert Xavier Barnes Photography

Fairly, there are numerous aspects you would like to think about medications. All discount medicaments save money, but few online drugstores offer better deals than other online drugstores. There isn’t anything you can’t order online anymore. Remedies like Deltasone ordinarily is used to treat diseases such as eye problems. Glucocorticoids naturally occurring steroids, which are easily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. There are varied drugs for every conditions. Cialis is a remedy prescribed to treat many illnesses. What do you already know about long term side effects of cialis? What consumers talk about how long does it take for cialis to take effect? A general sexual complaint among men is the erectile dysfunction. Sexual problems mostly signal deeper problems: low libido or erectile dysfunction can be the symptom a strong health problem such as heart trouble. Albeit the erectile disfunction itself isn’t necessarily dangerous, erectile malfunction is sometimes one of the early warning symptoms of other underlying health conditions that can be extremely dangerous. Unfortunately nearly all over-the-counter medicines have sometimes dangerous aftereffects, from muscle aches to death. If you buy any erectile malfunction medicaments like Cialis, check with a physician that they are sure to take with your other drugs. Do not take unwanted medications. Take Cialis to your local chemist’s shop which will dispose of them for you.

The Fight Isn’t Over in Maryland-Your Help Is Needed!

The day after Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed the death penalty repeal bill into law last week, Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger and other supporters of capital punishment announced that they are launching a petition drive to take the issue to the ballot in the hopes of overturning the new law. They plan to utilize Delegate Neil Parrott’s signature-gathering website, MDPetitions.com, in order to garner the 55,736 valid signatures that are needed by June 30 to put the measure on the ballot in November 2014. They must deliver the first 18,000 signatures by the end of this month.

The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NCADP), sent out a message today assuring supporters that they are committed to fighting the reinstatement of the death penalty in Maryland. In order to do so, they, along with Maryland CASE, NAACP, and other partners that fought so hard for repeal, will need your help. They are calling on people across the country to join the National Action Team, as they will need phone bankers and bloggers as well as financial support to help uphold the victory that we all celebrated last week. You can pledge to help out here.

You can also help by asking friends and family members who are concerned about human rights and social justice to join the national movement. They can also sign up here to learn more and get involved in Tennessee. Together, we can move our state and our country away from the death penalty.

Fairly, there are numerous aspects you would like to think about medications. All discount medicaments save money, but few online drugstores offer better deals than other online drugstores. There isn’t anything you can’t order online anymore. Remedies like Deltasone ordinarily is used to treat diseases such as eye problems. Glucocorticoids naturally occurring steroids, which are easily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. There are varied drugs for every conditions. Cialis is a remedy prescribed to treat many illnesses. What do you already know about long term side effects of cialis? What consumers talk about how long does it take for cialis to take effect? A general sexual complaint among men is the erectile dysfunction. Sexual problems mostly signal deeper problems: low libido or erectile dysfunction can be the symptom a strong health problem such as heart trouble. Albeit the erectile dysfunction itself isn’t necessarily dangerous, erectile dysfunction is sometimes one of the early warning symptoms of other underlying soundness conditions that can be extremely dangerous. Unfortunately nearly all over-the-counter medicines have sometimes dangerous aftereffects, from muscle aches to death. If you buy any erectile dysfunction medicaments like Cialis, check with a physician that they are sure to take with your other drugs. Do not take unwanted medications. Take Cialis to your local chemist’s shop which will dispose of them for you.

Maryland Officially Repeals the Death Penalty!

Moments ago, Governor Martin O’Malley signed SB 276 into law, making Maryland the 18th state without the death penalty and the sixth in six years to repeal!  In March, Maryland’s legislators concluded that even though their system of capital punishment was strictly limited, it was still broken and outdated and needed to be abolished. Maryland’s move to officially end the death penalty today is consistent with a global trend towards ending capital punishment and finding more effective policies to ensure public safety.

TADP congratulates our colleagues at Maryland Citizens Against State Executions, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the American Civil Liberties Union, Witness to Innocence, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Equal Justice USA, People of Faith Against the Death Penalty, Amnesty International, and all of the many partners and individuals who played a role in Maryland’s success!

You can help spread the word about Maryland and help make the case for repeal here in Tennessee by using this tool to craft your own letter to the editor of your local newspaper: http://tinyurl.com/mdlte

(Photo courtesy of The Baltimore Sun: Repeal supporters celebrate on March 15 when the MD General Assembly voted to repeal the death penalty. Left to right: Sylvester and Vicki Schieber, whose daughter Shannon was murdered; Kirk Bloodworth, a former Maryland death row inmate who was exonerated by DNA; and Ben Jealous, President of NAACP)

Fairly, there are numerous aspects you would like to think about medications. All discount medicaments save money, but few online drugstores offer better deals than other online drugstores. There isn’t anything you can’t order online anymore. Remedies like Deltasone ordinarily is used to treat diseases such as eye problems. Glucocorticoids naturally occurring steroids, which are easily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. There are varied drugs for every conditions. Cialis is a remedy prescribed to treat many illnesses. What do you already know about long term side effects of cialis? What consumers talk about how long does it take for cialis to take effect? A general sexual complaint among men is the erectile dysfunction. Sexual problems mostly signal deeper problems: low libido or erectile dysfunction can be the symptom a strong soundness problem such as core trouble. Albeit the erectile disfunction itself isn’t necessarily dangerous, erectile dysfunction is sometimes one of the early warning symptoms of other underlying soundness conditions that can be extremely dangerous. Unfortunately nearly all over-the-counter medicines have sometimes dangerous aftereffects, from muscle aches to death. If you buy any erectile disfunction medicaments like Cialis, check with a physician that they are sure to take with your other drugs. Do not take unwanted medications. Take Cialis to your local chemist’s shop which will dispose of them for you.