On May 23, 2022, the Supreme Court issued yet another decision that does greater injustice to the US criminal (in)justice system. It ruled that state prisoners cannot submit claims of inadequate counsel to federal courts, thereby adding yet another barrier to those on death row who are seeking relief amidst serious concerns that justice was not served. In a 6-3 opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the majority and did not defend a constitutional right, purportedly the Court’s job, but rather expressed system concerns, asserting that the federal courts must “afford unwavering respect to the centrality of the trial of a criminal case in state court” and claiming that allowing relief regarding inadequate counsel in the federal court system would encourage inmates to “sandbag” state courts.
Julius Jones has been on death row in Oklahoma for 19 years for a 1999 murder he’s always said he had no part in. Mr. Jones, who is represented by federal attorneys Dale Baich and Amanda Bass, was convicted and sentenced to death at the age of 19 and has now spent half his life in prison, waiting to be executed for a crime that new and compelling evidence suggests he didn’t commit. On Nov. 18, 2021, Oklahoma Gov. Stitt grants Julius Jones life without parole hours before his 4 PM CST execution. Twice, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommended that Mr. Jones be granted life with the possibility of parole, given strong new evidence of his innocence.
Three hours and 42 minutes. That’s how close Kevin Cooper came in 2004 to being murdered by the state, strapped down to a gurney, and poisoned via lethal injection. He had been placed in what he calls a “death chamber waiting room” and stripped of all his clothes before he was granted a stay of execution. Five years later, in an unprecedented dissent, five federal judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion that began: “The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man.” A rash of evidence would appear to substantiate their claim. In the opinion, Judge William A. Fletcher details multiple Brady disclosures—key information that had been ignored or actively suppressed that would compromise the case against Cooper.
Death Row San Quentin Prison - We men and women who unfortunately have been sentenced to death and sent to death rows here at San Quentin State Prison (for men) and the Central California Women’s Facility at Chowchilla have often been referred to as the “walking dead” or “Dead Man Walking,” as made famous by the 1995 movie, starring Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon, about a death row inmate. We were called these names long before the COVID-19 pandemic came upon us all, seemingly out of nowhere. After it came on the scene, we death row inmates got a double dose of death.
Three hours and 42 minutes. That's how close Kevin Cooper came in 2004 to being murdered by the state, strapped down to a gurney and poisoned via lethal injection. He had been placed in what he calls a "death chamber waiting room" stripped of his clothes and body searched several times before he was granted a stay of execution. Five years later, in an unprecedented dissent of a ruling denying him a new trial, five federal judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion that began: "The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man." A rash of evidence appeared to substantiate their claim of his likely innocence. In the opinion, Judge William A. Fletcher details multiple Brady disclosures—key information that the prosecution illegally ignored or actively suppressed that could exculpate Cooper.
Christopher Young is on death row at the Polunsky Unit in Livingston, Texas, listed in 2013 as one of America’s 10 worst prisons. He has an execution date of July 17, 2018. Young, 34, was sentenced to death in 2006 for the 2004 murder of 55-year-old convenience store owner Hasmukhbhai “Hash” Patel. Young’s lawyers claim religious discrimination occurred during the jury selection process of his trial, and over 500 religious leaders signed a statement saying he deserved a new trial. In January 2018, the United States Supreme Court turned down Young’s latest appeal.He seeks clemency.