Author: Fair Punishment Project

Wharton County Assistant DA Outs Boss for Racist Jury Selection

In a case last month, Wharton County, Texas prosecutor Nathan Wood eliminated all Black individuals from the jury pool, leaving an all-white jury in violation of the Supreme Court’s holding in Batson v. Kentucky that a prosecutor cannot strike a juror for race or gender. After Judge Randy Clapp rejected his argument that the cuts were for “race neutral” reasons, Wood revealed that his boss, DA Ross Kurtz, advised him to exclude Black residents from juries “as a matter of trial strategy.” Wood later admitted that this explicit instruction to exclude Black jurors made him feel “uncomfortable.” Sadly, this...

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My name is John Thompson. Prosecutors intentionally tried to wrongfully execute me.

My name is John Thompson. Prosecutors intentionally tried to wrongfully execute me. I proved that, saved my life, and was awarded civil damages for what I’d suffered. Five years ago today, the U.S. Supreme Court declared in Thompson v. Connick that I deserved no compensation, instead declaring prosecutors essentially immune from lawsuits. The Court ruled that education, training, internal supervision, bar oversight, and criminal sanctions were sufficient protections to ensure that prosecutors would consistently act within their legal and ethical guidelines. Yet each of those things were – and remain – essentially a joke in my case. In the...

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Challenging Juvenile Life Without Parole: Bell v. Arkansas

“Does imposing a life without parole sentence on a juvenile who neither killed nor intended to kill but who was convicted of felony murder violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments?” That’s the question presented in a Petition for Certiorari filed in Bell v. Arkansas, a case likely to be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court in May. The Fair Punishment Project filed a friend of the court brief in Bell. We made two main arguments. First, pushing beyond what the Petitioner urges in the case, we argued that life without the possibility of parole is invariably unconstitutional when it...

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Life Without Parole – From Bad Lawyers to No Lawyer At All

The quality of attorneys providing a defense to individuals charged with crimes that expose them to possible life without parole (LWOP) sentences varies tremendously. Some are not up to the extremely important task of providing a vigorous defense after conducting a thorough investigation. Whether unqualified, under-resourced, or uninterested, some defense lawyers fail fundamentally to comprehend and make their clients aware of the seriousness of the charges they face. Eddie Joe Lloyd’s case is one example of how inadequate representation can land someone in prison for life. Although he was eventually exonerated by the Innocence Project, Lloyd served 17 years...

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