Federal death penalty decision another step toward abolition
Washington, DC (July 1, 2002) -- In response to the decision of federal Judge Jed Rakoff today barring execution under the federal death penalty law, Cynthia Orr, co-chair of the Death Penalty Committee for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, issued the following statement:
"In light of evolving standards of fairness and ordered liberty'' Judge Rakoff found that the federal death penalty law is unconstitutional because it countenances the execution of numerous innocent people. He rejected the government lawyers' attempt to justify the taking of innocent lives, which they did by suggesting that the process saved many more innocent victims than it killed innocent defendants. As Judge Rakoff stated:
"Such cold-blooded utilitarianism would have been uncharacteristic of Congress, which, experience suggests, is much more likely to favor the Kantian, "Golden Rule" approach characteristic of the world's great religions. Under that later approach, the relevant question would presumably be: "Are you prepared to apply to yourself a legal process that would execute you for a crime you never committed before you were able to finally prove your innocence?"
"Protecting innocent people from state-sponsored execution is a protected liberty which Congress may not override, he said, relying in part on Herrera v. Collins, a case in which the Supreme Court noted in a combination of opinions that the execution of a legally and factually innocent person would be a constitutionally intolerable event. DNA evidence has provided us with information we previously lacked about our error-prone justice system and, thus, its unsuitability to dole out death as a punishment.
"Several states have reached the same conclusion with respect to their state death penalties. The nation should follow suit."
Orr is a criminal defense lawyer in San Antonio. She can be reached at (210) 226-1463.
A Defender’s Guide to Federal Evidence: A Trial Practice Handbook for Criminal Defense Attorneys
This Guide to Federal Evidence is the only federal evidence handbook written exclusively for criminal defense lawyers. The Guide analyzes each Federal Rule of Evidence and outlines the main evidentiary issues that confront criminal defense lawyers. It also summarizes countless defense favorable cases and provides tips on how to avoid common evidentiary pitfalls. The Guide contains multiple user-friendly flowcharts aimed at helping the criminal defense lawyer tackle evidence problems. A Defender’s Guide to Federal Evidence is an indispensable tool in preparing a case for trial.
Modern Digital Evidence & Technologies in Criminal Cases
Modern cases need modern defenses, and modern lawyers can't practice with an outdated playbook. This program is a contemporary training that identifies emerging technologies and digital evidence encountered in today's criminal cases and arms you with the tools necessary to combat expert witnesses, prosecutorial overreach, and an uneducated judge and jury. This comprehensive CLE program covers both general aspects of new technologies as well as practical courtroom application and legal challenges to the use of these new technologies.
Top Shelf DUI Defenses: The Law, The Science, The Techniques (2021)
If you are serious about being an effective DUI defense advocate, or if you’re considering adding DUI defenses to your portfolio, you need to know the latest scientific and legal strategies to optimize your success at trial. Learn from the best-of-the-best in the field in this unique CLE Program, updated for 2021.
Defending Modern Drug Cases (2021)
From challenging the arrest and seizure to picking a jury and cross-examining police officers, defense attorneys handling drug cases must be able to construct a defense that will increase the chances of the client getting a positive result for your client.
Effective motion practice, juror selection, and storytelling have never been more important. This seminar will introduce defense counsel to techniques that have been used at recent drug trials to rebut specific claims and overcome the emotion created in today’s criminal legal system.
NACDL Communications Department
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.