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USA: DEFENDANTS BEGIN SYSTEMIC CHALLENGES TO CONSTITUTIONALITY OF DEATH PENALTY

November 30, 2015: Lawyers for capital defendants and death row inmates across the country have begun to respond to what lawyers in one federal case described as the "clarion call for reconsideration of the constitutionality of the death penalty" issued by Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg in their dissenting opinion in June in Glossip v. Gross. Systemic challenges to the death penalty have been filed in a Vermont federal court and a Utah state trial court seeking hearings to present evidence that the death penalty is administered in a systemically cruel and unusual manner.
A Pennsylvania defendant has likewise filed a petition in the U.S. Supreme Court seeking review of her claim that the death penalty is unconstitutionally arbitrary.
Attorneys for Brandon Perry Smith allege that while their client and a very small number of other defendants face the death penalty for potentially capital crimes, approximately 150 Utah inmates received life sentences for similar offenses. They seek to depose all 29 of Utah's county attorneys to learn why prosecutors choose to seek the death penalty in certain cases but not others. Gary Pendleton and Mary Corporan, Smith's attorneys, wrote, "The infirmity of Utah's present scheme is apparent. The exercise of prosecutorial discretion becomes arbitrary and capricious by definition when the law establishes no basis for determining when a death-eligible murder, as defined by statute, is charged as a capital offense and when it is charged as a noncapital homicide."
Citing the Glossip dissent, lawyers in the federal trial of Donald Fell in Vermont argue that the federal death penalty is unconstitutional because it is unreliable, arbitrary, and discriminatorily applied. They write that "Most places within the United States have abandoned its use under evolving standards of decency," and highlight evidence of significant racial and geographic inequities in the use of the federal death penalty, including that it is overwhelmingly imposed in a small number of states that are also disproportionately responsible for state death sentences.
In Walter v. Pennsylvania, death-row prisoner Shonda Walter argues that the assumptions underlying the Supreme Court's reinstitution of the death penalty in the 1970s "have proved wrong, flawed, or illusory." She has asked the Supreme Court to review her claim that American "standards of decency have evolved to the point where the death penalty is no longer constitutionally sustainable." The state court judge in the Utah case has characterized Smith's claim as one of "selective prosecution" and has issued an order requiring his attorneys to provide "credible evidence" of selective prosecution before they can question prosecutors. Prosecutors have not yet responded to the pleadings in the Felland Walter cases. (Sources: DPIC, 30/11/2015)

BANGLADESH: COURTS IN SIX DISTRICTS SENTENCE 29 TO DEATH IN SEVEN SEPARATE MURDER CASES
IRAN: FOUR PRISONERS HANGED IN RASHT, ZAHEDAN
MALAYSIA: CHINESE NATIONAL SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR TRAFFICKING IN SYABU
BANGLADESH: 11 GET DEATH PENALTY FOR KILLING JUBO LEAGUE LEADER
VIETNAM PASSES LAW ABOLISHING DEATH PENALTY FOR 8 CRIMES
VIETNAM: BUSINESS EXECUTIVES SENTENCED TO DEATH
IRAN: YOUNG PRISONER HANGED IN PUBLIC
SRI LANKA: BROTHERS SENTENCED TO DEATH
NIGERIA: 1,639 CONDEMNED PRISONERS AWAIT DEATH, SAYS PRISONS BOSS
IRAN: SEVEN PRISONERS HANGED FOR DRUG RELATED OFFENSES
CHINA: TRANSPLANT CHIEF DENIES BREAKING VOW TO BAN PRISONERS’ ORGANS
IRAQ: ISIS EXECUTE TWO MORE GAY MEN
USA: MAJORITY OF AMERICANS PREFER LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE TO THE DEATH PENALTY
IRAN: FIVE PRISONERS HANGED IN KARAJ
IRAN: TWO PRISONERS HANGED IN TABRIZ
ODISHA (INDIA): FIVE GET DEATH PENALTY FOR RAPE AND MURDER OF MINOR
MALAYSIA: SULTAN IBRAHIM GRANTS CLEMENCY TO FOUR ON DEATH ROW
IRAQ: 3 DEATH SENTENCES FOR JOURNALIST'S KILLERS
BANGLADESH: 2 OPPOSITION LEADERS EXECUTED DESPITE CONCERNS
BELARUS: MAN SENTENCED TO DEATH ON MURDER CHARGES
SAUDI ARABIA: PALESTINIAN POET SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR APOSTASY
INDONESIA: GOVERNMENT POSTPONES EXECUTIONS TO FOCUS ON ECONOMY, TIES
SAUDI ARABIA: LANKAN MAID TO BE STONED TO DEATH
GEORGIA (USA): MARCUS RAY JOHNSON EXECUTED
TUNISIA: 3 JIHADISTS CONDEMNED TO DEATH FOR MURDER OF POLICE
TEXAS (USA): RAPHAEL HOLIDAY EXECUTED
IRAN: 5 HANGED, INCLUDING AFGHAN NATIONAL
PAKISTAN: DOUBLE MURDER CONVICT HANGED IN BAHAWALPUR
MALAYSIA: GOVERNMENT WANTS MANDATORY DEATH PENALTY ABOLISHED
BAHRAIN REJECTS DEATH SENTENCE APPEAL BY 2 OVER 2014 BOMBING

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IRAN. HANDS OFF CAIN, REDUCTION OF DRUG EXECUTIONS BUT NUMBERS REMAIN WORRISOME
  HUMAN RIGHTS: DEMONSTRATION OF THE RADICAL PARTY BEFORE IRANIAN EMBASSY 14 FEBRUARY  
  BELARUS EXECUTES TWO CONVICTED MURDERERS  
  MALAYSIA: GOVT HALTS EXECUTION OF 1,200 DEATH ROW INMATES  
  JAPAN HANGS CULT LEADER SHOKO ASAHARA, 6 OTHERS FOR 1995 TOKYO SUBWAY SARIN ATTACK  
  SOMALIA - DEATH PENALTY AND TERRORISM  
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