death penalty news—-TEXAS, USA

March 27


'Ten Commandments Judge' defends Texas jury's use of Bible

Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is arguing in a legal brief that a
Texas jury's use of the Bible did not taint deliberations in a death
penalty case.

Khristian Oliver was found guilty and sentenced to death for killing an
East Texas farmer during a home invasion nearly a decade ago. However,
Oliver's attorney claims the death sentence should be overturned because
several jury members brought Bibles and consulted scripture in the
deliberation room. But attorneys with the Foundation for Moral Law —
headed by Judge Moore — have argued in a brief that the jury's
consultation of Bible passages did not taint the jury in violation of the
Sixth Amendment. Furthermore, Moore states the murderer's argument
reflects a trend in society.

"It's all about one single, solitary thing … eliminating the knowledge
of God from society," argues Moore. "It's not about the Bible, the Ten
Commandments, or prayer in a school classroom …. They're simply saying
that if a person considers a belief toward God in his jury deliberations,
the case must be reversed." Moore continues his argument by stating that
the evidence in the case proves that Oliver beat the farmer to death, and
that the farmer was beaten so badly his face was unrecognizable. He also
cites a 1952 Supreme Court ruling that recognized Americans are a
religious people whose institutions presuppose a supreme being — one of
those institutions being the jury system.

The brief asks the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to reject Oliver's
claims as constitutionally, historically, and logically baseless.

(source: American Family News Network)


US marks 6 months with no executions

The United States has marked its 6th consecutive month with no executions
of prisoners, its longest such period since 1982.

But experts say the death penalty could make a swift return once questions
about lethal injection are resolved.

The last execution took place on September 25, when 48-year-old Michael
Richard was put to death for the rape and murder of a woman 20 years

He was executed by lethal injection, the method most commonly used.

Just hours before Richards was pronounced dead by a Texas physician, the
US Supreme Court had announced it would examine the legality of the lethal
injection method.

The court is considering arguments from several death row inmates, led by
a pair from Kentucky, that execution by lethal injection violates the US
Constitution, which prohibits "cruel and unusual punishment".

Richards' case was rushed through after a Texas court refused to stay open
to hear his appeal, angering those who oppose the death penalty in the
state which has convicted the highest number of prisoners since 1976.

According to the Death Penalty Information Centre, only one more execution
is planned this year, that of a convict in Louisiana in July.

The Supreme Court is expected to announce its ruling by the end of June on
the three-part injection method by which the first part sedates the
inmate, the second paralyses the muscles and the third stops the heart.

Around 2/3 of Americans favour the death penalty, according to the DPIC,
in a country where 3,260 detainees are presently on death row.

(source: Agence France Presse)


Consular law protects Americans, too—-Texas murder case has
international ramifications

It's hard to argue with the Supreme Court ruling in the case of Jos
Ernesto Medelln, a Mexican who confessed to killing a Houston girl in
1993. There was a technical flaw in his conviction: The Mexican Consulate
was not notified of his arrest, as required under a 1963 treaty.

The International Court of Justice ruled that Mr. Medelln and 50 other
Mexican citizens deserved to have their cases reviewed because their
rights under the treaty had been violated. To enforce the treaty,
President Bush requested that the Medelln case be retried. But the Supreme
Court ruled that a retrial wasn't appropriate because Congress had never
passed a law requiring states to abide by the treaty.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court's decision doesn't end this controversy;
Congress still has to fix that loophole.

Just as foreigners should respect the letter of the law in this country,
the United States should abide by its treaty obligations not just at the
federal level, but in state and local jurisdictions as well.

Millions of Americans travel abroad every year. Thousands of them are
arrested, often in countries with dubious human rights records. An arrest
abroad is among the most frightening experiences any traveler can have.

The 1963 treaty is all that stands in the way of foreign police holding
American citizens without ever notifying U.S. consular officials so they
can arrange legal assistance or notify family members back home.

Some countries don't provide food for prisoners, and that consular visit
is the only way of ensuring that the detainee will even be fed.

By failing to enforce this treaty, America sends a signal to other
countries that they don't have to enforce it either. To protect the rights
of John Q. Traveler, the tourist who somehow gets arrested in Mexico for
tackling the guy who just stole his wallet (and it happens), we also must
protect the legal rights of murderers such as Mr. Medelln.

Congress left a huge gap when it ratified the 1963 treaty but failed to
enact state-level enforcement legislation. If we want our citizens
protected abroad, we have to practice minimal respect for our treaty
obligations at home.

(source: Editorial, Dallas Morning News)