2017-05-18 14:16:40 UTC
Attorney Jacquelyn L. Ford Examines Death Penalty Issues in
Oklahoma----Oklahoma civil rights attorney Jacquelyn L. Ford discusses the
state's pervasive capital punishment problems and innocent people being
sentenced to death.
According to an April 26, 2017, article in The Intercept, the Oklahoma Death
Penalty Review Commission recently recommended that a moratorium on carrying
out capital punishment in the state be continued indefinitely. The Oklahoma
Death Penalty Review Commission report also concluded that innocent people have
"undeniably" been sentenced to death in Oklahoma.
"The obvious problem is the permanency of the death penalty. What if we got it
wrong?" asked attorney Jacquelyn L. Ford, a native Oklahoman and founder of
Jacquelyn Ford Law. "Our system is not a perfect one, and the convictions are
only as accurate as the evidence and quality of defense presented. However, in
a state facing a $900 million deficit, the real issue becomes the foolish use
of our limited funds. The costs of the death penalty are shocking, especially
when you take into account the money that is not spent on appropriately funding
public defenders' offices."
In fact, Oklahoma public defenders have finite resources, and cannot operate on
the same playing field as government lawyers. "Public defenders are routinely
in violation of American Bar Association recommended number of cases per
person," added Ford. The result is lack of effective investigation and defense,
which results in lack of credible convictions.
The Intercept article also reports that the state of Oklahoma killed a man in
January 2015 using an untested and improper drug, and that the same drug had
been delivered for a 2nd execution scheduled for September 2015. This followed
a botched execution in April 2014 in which an inmate struggled on a gurney
before dying 43 minutes into his lethal injection.
"Oklahoma's problems with the death penalty have been well-documented and
pervasive, with innocent men being murdered by their own government," concluded
Ford. "After multiple cruel and unusual botched executions and a last-minute
stay of execution from the Governor, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt
launched a full-scale investigation into the issue and discovered that the
Department of Corrections had been using potassium acetate instead of potassium
chloride. In case your chemistry is rusty, potassium chloride is an approved
chemical for lethal injection, while potassium acetate is not an approved
Convicted Killer Faces Death Sentence A 3rd Time In Same Case
The Arizona Supreme Court has reinstated the death sentence for a convicted
It is the 3rd death sentence Darrel Pandeli has faced for the same case.
The 1st time Pandeli faced the death sentence for killing and mutilating
43-year-old Holly Iler, it was 1997 - 4 years after her murder.
In 2002, that case was overturned after a U.S. Supreme Court ruled on a
different death penalty case that impacted several death sentences nationwide
for procedural violations.
A lower court then returned his 2nd death penalty case in 2006 after adding
aggravated circumstances to his case, including the 1991 murder of another
woman and the "especially heinous and depraved" manner in which he killed Holly
But that death sentence was also thrown out by a Maricopa County Superior Court
ruling on the grounds Pandeli's lawyers mishandled his case.
As of Monday, the state Supreme Court reinstated his death sentence claiming
the lower court was incorrect on its procedural ruling.
(source: KJZZ news)
Inmate Dennis Bratton may face death penalty following conviction Wednesday in
stomping death of his cellmate
Defense counsel for Dennis Bratton told jurors he fought for his life and acted
in self-defense when he killed his cellmate 4 years ago.
The prosecution derided that argument, saying Bratton's "ridiculous" claim of
self-defense didn't explain why he continued to stomp on his cellmate's head
after the man was unconscious lying on the concrete floor of their cell. He
wore prison work boots during the killing.
A jury of 10 women and 2 men deliberated for 2 days before finding Bratton
guilty Wednesday afternoon of assault by a life prisoner with force causing
death. Bratton, 47, showed no reaction as the verdict was read.
The assault charge is similar to a murder charge, but specific to Bratton's
circumstances since he was already serving a life sentence when the killing
Jurors will return to court May 30 to begin the penalty phase of the trial.
They can either recommend death or life in prison without the possibility of
Bratton killed 27-year-old Andrew Keel the morning of May 16, 2013, in the cell
they shared at Delano's Kern Valley State Prison.
Prosecutor Andi Bridges said Bratton repeatedly stomped on Keel's head before
strangling him with string to make sure he was dead. Photographs showed the
only injuries Bratton suffered were bruising to his heels caused by the
In her closing argument Monday, Bridges said Bratton was "unusually calm" after
the killing, and later bragged about it to other inmates. Another inmate, James
Fortini, testified Bratton made a comment about hurting Keel just days before
Deputy Public Defenders Pam Singh and Paul Cadman don't dispute Bratton killed
Singh, however, told jurors Bratton was in a brutal fight for his life. She
said Keel told him, "You need to sleep sometime," and Bratton believed Keel was
going to cut his throat.
Earlier, Keel had told Bratton he slashed the face or neck of another inmate
who refused to participate in a race riot while he was incarcerated at Corcoran
State Prison, Singh said.
She argued Fortini and other inmates who testified for the prosecution could
not be trusted. She noted Fortini had admitted to lying to investigators before
telling them about Bratton's comment to hurt Keel.
Both Bratton and Keel were affiliated with white racist prison gangs.
Bratton was serving a life sentence for a 1997 conviction in San Diego County
on charges of attempted murder and multiple accounts of assault with a deadly
Judge throws out lawsuit challenging California's execution law
A judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a state
law that gives prison authorities responsibility for establishing procedures
for lethal injection executions.
After voters passed a plan in November intended to speed up executions, the
ACLU of Northern California challenged a state law that gave California's
corrections department wide authority to establish an execution protocol.
Another lawsuit to overturn the measure is still pending before the California
The ACLU's suit contended that a long-established law amended in the mid-1990s
violated the state Constitution by allowing an agency - the California
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation - to decide how to carry out
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Colwell disagreed, saying the
Legislature had acted within its authority.
"The CDCR is arguably the best institution to be tasked with monitoring the
development of new injections and monitoring the pain, speed, and reliability
of executions as they are carried out in other states," Colwell wrote. State
lawyers received a copy of the decision Monday.
If the challenge had been successful, the ACLU probably would have been able to
delay the resumption of executions.
California has not executed an inmate since 2006. Courts struck down
California's previous 3-drug lethal injection method, and Gov. Jerry Brown's
administration did not propose a new protocol until last year.
More than 700 prisoners are on California's death row, the largest in the
country, and about 16 have exhausted their appeals and could be executed.
The inmates facing imminent execution are older than 50 - 1 is approaching 80 -
and were condemned for crimes that took place decades ago.
The ACLU's suit said the Legislature, not a state agency, must set parameters
for the kind of lethal injection procedure California adopts.
Lawmakers should be required to decide how much pain is acceptable during an
execution, how long it should take for an inmate to die and the level of
reliability of the execution process, the suit said.
Linda Lye, senior staff attorney for Northern California's ACLU, said the group
intends to appeal.
"On a matter as controversial and important as the death penalty, the
Legislature needs to make fundamental policy decisions about how we conduct
executions by lethal injection," she said.
She noted that courts have struck down CDCR execution protocols several times
in the past.
"It is clearly an agency that needs more guidance from the Legislature," she
(source: Los Angeles Times)
Lush launches national campaign to abolish US death penalty
Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics has partnered with Death Penalty Focus to launch
a US-wide campaign calling for the end of the death penalty.
The brand will host events in store to raise awareness of the cause and
encourage its community members to get involved. The company has also launched
an exclusive bath bomb called 31 States, with 100 % of the purchase price to be
donated to organizations working toward the abolition of capital punishment.
"We are very pleased to partner with a company like Lush," says DPF President
Mike Farrell. "Not only is the company's business model based on ethical,
environmental, and socially conscious principles, but it brings awareness of
the death penalty and its flaws to a different segment of the population."
"In 2016, death sentences, executions and support for capital punishment were
at an historic low, making flaws and failures of the death penalty more
apparent than ever," said Carleen Pickard, Ethical Campaigns Specialist at Lush
Cosmetics. "The more people learn about the death penalty, the less they like
it, and we're excited to bring this important issue to our customers."
A service courtesy of Washburn University School of Law www.washburnlaw.edu
DeathPenalty mailing list