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Cruel And Unusual Punishment

OPINION
September 30, 2006 | Colin Dayan, COLIN DAYAN, who teaches the legal and religious history of the Americas at Vanderbilt University, is the author of "The Story of Cruel and Unusual," forthcoming from Boston Review/MIT Press.
FOR THE LAST WEEK, U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel has been considering the case of Michael Morales, who was sentenced to death for the 1981 murder of Terri Winchell in Lodi, Calif. The question facing the judge is whether lethal injection -- California's preferred method of execution -- violates the U.S. Constitution's ban on "cruel and unusual" punishment. But what exactly is cruel? And what's unusual?
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
September 26, 2006 | Henry Weinstein, Times Staff Writer
California's execution of condemned inmates by lethal injection will be put to its most stringent test ever at a hearing scheduled to start today in San Jose federal court. Attorneys for Michael Morales, who was sentenced to death for the 1981 murder of Terri Lynn Winchell in Lodi, will try to show that California's procedures violate the 8th Amendment to the Constitution because they may inflict unreasonable pain upon inmates.
NATIONAL
June 13, 2006 | David G. Savage, Times Staff Writer
The Supreme Court opened the door Monday for two new challenges to the death penalty, allowing the use of new DNA evidence to contest an old murder conviction and allowing an appeal based on the practice of lethal injection. In House vs. Bell, the court held for the first time that DNA evidence that undercuts a defendant's guilt is reason enough for a federal judge to reopen a case. The second case acknowledges the new research that suggests lethal injections could cause intense pain.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 27, 2006 | Henry Weinstein, Times Staff Writer
A federal judge on Thursday set a Feb. 9 hearing to consider a condemned inmate's claims that California's lethal injection procedures violate the U.S. Constitution's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel in San Jose refused to call an immediate halt to Michael A. Morales' Feb. 21 execution, but agreed to hear a motion for a preliminary injunction well before the death date.
NATIONAL
January 26, 2006 | From Associated Press
Hours after staying the execution of an inmate already strapped to a gurney at a Florida prison, the Supreme Court said Wednesday it would hear his arguments that the drug cocktail in lethal injections could cause excruciating pain. Lethal injections are used in most states with capital punishment, and dispute has been growing over the way the executions are carried out. The Supreme Court has never ruled on whether a specific form of execution is cruel and unusual punishment.
NATIONAL
October 18, 2005 | From Times Wire Reports
The Tennessee Supreme Court unanimously rejected claims that the three-drug combination used to execute killers can cause extreme pain in violation of the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Lawyers for Abu-Ali Abdur'Rahman, who was sentenced to die by lethal injection in the 1986 beating death of a Nashville drug dealer, had sought to change the state's method of execution. Abdur'Rahman's lawyer Bradley MacLean said he would appeal. The U.S.
NATIONAL
July 9, 2005 | From Associated Press
A state judge Friday upheld the use of lethal injection in Kentucky, saying it was not cruel and unusual punishment. Franklin Circuit Judge Roger Crittenden said the method of execution should be changed to rule out one painful step. Officials for the state said they planned to challenge that part of the ruling on appeal.
NATIONAL
March 2, 2005 | David G. Savage, Times Staff Writer
The Supreme Court abolished the death penalty for juveniles Tuesday, ruling that it was excessive and cruel to execute a person who was under 18 when the crime was committed. Juveniles are less mature than adults and, no matter how heinous their crimes, they are not among "the worst offenders" who deserve to die, the 5-4 majority said.
NATIONAL
March 20, 2004 | From Times Wire Reports
A convicted police killer was executed in Columbia hours after he lost his final appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming that the way South Carolina puts inmates to death is unusually cruel. David Clayton Hill, 39, recited a Bible verse, looked at witnesses and then gazed upward as he received a lethal injection. He died less than two minutes later. Hill was convicted of killing Police Maj. Spencer Guerry during a traffic stop 10 years ago.
NATIONAL
February 21, 2004 | From Associated Press
New Jersey must reconsider its procedure for performing executions, a state appeals court ruled Friday in a case brought by death penalty opponents who claim lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment. Under the decision, no one can be executed until the state rewrites its rules. However, all 13 of the state's death row inmates have appeals pending and no dates for execution have been set or appear likely for some time.
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