SCOTUScast 5-7-15 featuring John Stinneford
On April 29, 2015, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Glossip v. Gross. This case concerns three questions. The first is whether it is constitutional for a state to execute an inmate by administering a three drug protocol in which a) there is some scientific agreement that the first drug does not sufficiently relieve pain or consistently render a person in a deep state of unconsciousness and b) there is a substantial risk that administration of the second and third drugs would cause significant pain to a still-conscious prisoner. The second question is whether the plurality stay standard of Baze v. Rees is applicable when states are using a different execution protocol than the one involved in Baze v. Rees. The third question is whether, if a state's protocol for lethal injection will violate the Eighth Amendment, the legal duty to propose a different drug falls upon the prisoner.
To discuss the case, we have John Stinneford, who is an Associate Professor of Law and Assistant Director, Criminal Justice Center at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. Criminal Law & Procedure Practice Group Podcast
On Wednesday, April 29, 2015, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Glossip v. Gross. The case turns on the efficacy of the first drug in Oklahoma’s three-drug execution protocol, the subject of controversy after a highly publicized botched execution last year; critics claim that this drug is unable to reliably produce the deep, coma-like unconsciousness necessary to avoid the pain and suffering that can result from the administration of the second and third drugs, and that the protocol violates the Eighth Amendment because of this. Oral arguments were expected to be revealing as to whether the court will focus narrowly on the specific execution method in question or range more broadly over important constitutional issues related to the death penalty.
SCOTUScast 7-15-14 featuring Kent Scheidegger
- Kent S. Scheidegger, Legal Director & General Counsel, Criminal Justice Legal Foundation
On May 27, 2014, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Hall v. Florida. The question in the case is whether the Florida scheme for identifying intellectually disabled defendants in capital cases violates Atkins v. Virginia. In an opinion delivered by Justice Kennedy, the Court held that the relevant Florida law, under which all further exploration of intellectual disability is foreclosed if a prisoner is deemed to have an IQ above 70, creates an unacceptable risk that persons with intellectual disability will be executed, and thus is unconstitutional. Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined the opinion of the Court. Justice Alito filed a dissenting opinion, which Chief Justice Roberts, as well as Justices Scalia and Thomas, joined. The decision of the Supreme Court of Florida was reversed and the case remanded.
To discuss the case, we have Mr. Kent Scheidegger, who is the Legal Director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation. SCOTUScast 4-29-14 featuring Robert Blecker
Robert Blecker April 29, 2014
On April 23, 2014, the Supreme Court issued its decision in White v. Woodall. The case presents two questions: (1) Whether the Sixth Circuit violated the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act by granting habeas relief because a Kentucky trial court refused to issue an instruction to the jury telling it not to draw adverse inferences from the defendant's silence at the sentencing phase in a death penalty case; and (2) whether the Sixth Circuit violated the harmless error standard in Brecht v. Abrahamson in ruling that the absence of a no adverse inference instruction was not harmless in spite of overwhelming evidence of guilt and in the face of a guilty pleas to the crimes and aggravators.
In an opinion delivered by Justice Scalia, the Court held by a vote of 6-3 that, because the Kentucky Supreme Court's rejection of respondent's Fifth Amendment adverse inference claim was not objectively unreasonable, the Sixth Circuit erred in granting the writ of habeas and the Court need not reach the harmless error issue. Chief Justice Roberts as well as Justices Kennedy, Alito, Thomas, and Kagan joined the opinion of the Court. Justice Breyer authored a dissenting opinion, which Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor joined.
To discuss the case, we have Robert Blecker who is a Professor of Criminal Law and 8th Amendment Studies at New York Law School and author of The Death of Punishment.