Tuesday, June 28, 2005

'Gross incompetence and flagrant stupidity'

Earlier today we noted the problems with Ohio's death penalty. But which state truly has the worst system? Now comes Alabama, wanting to be heard.

In light of last week's Rompilla ruling, in which the Supreme Court elevated the standard of effectiveness that defense attorneys must meet, there is talk that many cases around the nation could be affected -- particularly in Alabama.

This comes from the Birmingham News:

No one can predict how many of Alabama's 190 Death Row inmates could successfully challenge their sentences based on the new ruling, but defense lawyers such as John Mays of Decatur said it could be significant.

"In Alabama, we have what is often referred to as the 15-minute penalty phase," said Mays, who serves on a committee that gives capital-defense training and advice to less-experienced lawyers. "You prepare absolutely nothing to try to explain your client's conduct so as to save his life.

"So when you get to the penalty phase, you go out into the hallway and grab the defendant's mother and the defendant's cousin, and you put them on the witness stand and they say they do not want Junior to die, and they call that a penalty phase. I call that gross incompetence and flagrant stupidity."

To read the entire article go here.

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