Weekly News Round-Up: 10/27/14 – 10/31/14

2014 Likely to Have Fewest US Executions Since 1994… Even in Texas, Executions Are Down. Missouri Execution Is Stayed Due to Negligent Defense Counsel…Oklahoma Executions Postponed Until 2015… More States Fighting to Keep Execution Procedures Secret. PLUS: Outrage Of The Week.

2014 Likely to Have Fewest US Executions Since 1994… Even in Texas, Executions Are Down.

Reuters: Number of US Executions Likely to Be Lowest in 20 Years. Reuters reported the downward trend in executions in 2014: “[T]he number of executions in the United States is on pace to be the lowest in two decades…The number of executions is likely to total about 35 in the United States this year, which would be the lowest since 31 inmates were put to death in 1994, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, which monitors capital punishment. There were 39 executions in the United States last year…Difficulties with carrying out the death penalty and the high cost of prosecutions have helped drive the numbers lower in recent years, analysts have said.” [Reuters, 10/28/14]

Even in Texas, Executions Are Down.

Atlantic: “In Texas, the Death Penalty Is Slowly Dying Out” – 2014 Marks Fewest Executions in State Since 1996. According to the Atlantic, “With no executions scheduled by the state department of criminal justice for November or December, Paredes’ death marks the tenth and final execution for Texas this year—the fewest in almost two decades…Since executions peaked nationally in the late 1990s, multiple Supreme Court rulings have limited the death penalty’s scope and application…This doesn’t mean executions will completely halt any time soon in Texas. State officials say they have a sufficient supply of pentobarbital for upcoming executions thanks to a secret supplier they refuse to name through 2015. Six in 10 Americans still support the death penalty according to a recent Gallup poll, and Greg Abbott, who will likely be elected governor of Texas next week, is also a staunch proponent. Reversing the overall downward trend, however, would require either a drastic shift in the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence or a complete overhaul of Texas sentencing law. Neither are imminent.” [Atlantic, 10/29/14]

In Missouri, An Execution Is Stayed Due to Negligent Defense Counsel…

SCOTUS Stayed Missouri Execution Due Negligent Defense Counsel Who Missed Appeals Deadlines and Mislead Defendant About Case. On Tuesday, right before he was about to be executed, the Supreme Court stayed the execution of Mark Christeson, accepting an appeal that he had negligent counsel who missed deadlines allowing him to appeal his sentence and ask the court to spare his life, and because of a court that denied his request to replace his counsel. [Associated Press, 10/29/14]

After Botched Execution, Oklahoma Postpones Executions Until 2015…

Oklahoma Postpones Executions Until 2015. According to Tulsa World, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals decided that all executions in the state would be delayed until 2015 after a botched execution earlier in the year led the state to “improve” its death chamber conditions. The court responded to a request by the Attorney General to delay the executions so the staff could have more training and they could obtain the proper lethal injection drugs. [Tulsa World, 10/25/14]

But it’s not all good news: More States Fighting to Keep Execution Procedures Secret…

Tennessee Supreme Court to Hear Case on Whether State Must Disclose Names of Execution Staff. According to the Associated Press, “The Tennessee Supreme Court has agreed to settle a dispute over whether the state must reveal the names of the workers who carry out executions to attorneys for 11 death row inmates. The question is part of a lawsuit by the inmates over whether the state’s lethal injection and electrocution procedures are constitutional. The lawsuit came to a standstill earlier this year after the state refused to turn over the names. Attorneys for the inmates say they need the information in order to determine whether the workers are qualified.” [Associated Press, 10/29/14]

AZ News Outlets Suing State for Lethal Injection Information Disclosure. According to the Associated Press, Several news outlets are suing to gain information on the procedures and sources of drugs used to carry out lethal injections for death row inmates, The Arizona Republic reported (http://bit.ly/1tapLO1) Saturday. The newspaper has joined other news organizations in a federal lawsuit against the Arizona Department of Corrections and Attorney General Tom Horne. Other media organizations acting as plaintiffs include Guardian News and Media and the Arizona Daily Star… the media outlets argue that withholding information about executions is unconstitutional.” [Associated Press, 10/26/14]

And here’s Our “Outrage of the Week.”

Texas Sets Date to Execute Mentally Ill Prisoner, Despite Claim He Doesn’t Understand Punishment. According to the Associated Press, “A Texas death row inmate whose attorneys contend he is so delusional that he can’t understand why he was convicted and condemned has been scheduled for execution. Scott Panetti, 56, was set for lethal injection in Huntsville on Dec. 3…’Scott Panetti is not competent for execution and therefore his execution would serve no retributive purpose,’ his appeals attorney, Greg Wiercioch, said Thursday. ‘It is unfortunate that an execution date has been set. He has a fixed delusion that Satan, working through the state of Texas, is seeking to execute him for preaching the Gospel. His execution would be a miserable spectacle.” [Associated Press, 10/30/14]

Source:: National Coalition to End the Death Penalty