News and Updates

Illinois man freed after DNA from killings points to ex-Marine in Virginia

By: Maria Glod
The Washington Post
Thursday, August 5, 2010

An Illinois man who had been charged with fatally stabbing two young girls was freed Wednesday after DNA evidence linked the slayings to an ex-Marine accused of attacking women in Northern Virginia.

Jerry Hobbs, 39, spent the past five years in jail awaiting trial on capital murder charges in the 2005 slayings of his daughter, Laura, 8, and her friend Krystal Tobias, 9, in Zion, Ill. But Lake County prosecutors, who previously said they would seek the death penalty, dropped all charges Wednesday. It was a little more than a month after genetic evidence gathered at the crime scene was matched with a sample that had been entered in the national DNA databank.

State missed the boat, Troy Davis team argues

By: Jan Skutch
Wednesday, August 4, 2010

State attorneys failed to cite any legal basis for their objections to Sylvester “Redd” Coles’  confession in the 1989  slaying of off-duty Savannah police officer Mark Allen MacPhail, attorneys for Troy Anthony Davis  argued Wednesday.

“Whether it was lethargy, strategy or doubts about Coles’ credibility, (the state) failed to call Coles to contest his confessions,” the Davis response said.

It said the state now wants to exclude Coles’ evidence because he was not a witness at the hearings, they said.

High Court Trims Miranda Warning Rights Bit By Bit

Supreme Court Trims Miranda Warning Rights: 'Death By A Thousand Cuts' Says Defense Attorney
Monday, August 2, 2010

(AP)  WASHINGTON (AP) - You have the right to remain silent, but only if you tell the police that you're remaining silent.

You have a right to a lawyer - before, during and after questioning, even though the police don't have to tell you exactly when the lawyer can be with you. If you can't afford a lawyer, one will be provided to you. Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you, which, by the way, are only good for the next two weeks?

More Burge torture cases could be on the way

By: Thomas Frisbie
Chicago Sun Times
Monday, August 2, 2010

The litany of Burge cases - people who may have confessed only because they were tortured by former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge or one of his associates - may not be over yet.

Over the weekend, Gov. Quinn's office announced the governor has made his first seven appointments to the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission. The commission was created by legislation last August and looks at all of the cases involving Burge and his underlings to see if there is any reason to reopen an investigation and ultimately recommend whether the claims should be prosecuted in court.

Stop the Execution of Kevin Keith!
Monday, August 2, 2010
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A Mailroom Mix-Up That Could Cost a Life

Credit: Alabama Department of Corrections
Time to appeal ran out before Cory R. Maples learned of a court ruling.
New York Times
Monday, August 2, 2010

Sullivan & Cromwell is a law firm with glittering offices in a dozen cities around the world, and some of its partners charge more than $1,000 an hour. The firm’s paying clients, at least, demand impeccable work.

Cory R. Maples, a death row inmate in Alabama, must have been grateful when lawyers from the firm agreed to represent him without charge. But the assistance he got may turn out to be lethal.

When an Alabama court sent two copies of a ruling in Mr. Maples’s case to the firm in New York, its mailroom sent them back unopened.

"The Last Gasp": Can you take the pain out of executions?

What's the future of capital punishment? The author of a new book explains how suffering is shaping the debate

Credit: AP
The gas chamber at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, Miss.
By: Justin Sullivan
Sunday, August 1, 2010

When the state of Utah executed Ronnie Lee Gardner this June, his death became the latest salvo in the ongoing national debate about capital punishment. Gardner's decision to die by the seemingly archaic firing squad -- opting out of the default method of lethal injection -- gave a boost to those who have long argued that the latter is far from a "humane" form of execution. Over the last decade, there has been a growing debate over what constitutes the least painful way to kill a prisoner, with anti-death penalty advocates using the 8th Amendment ban on "cruel and unusual punishment" as the centerpiece of their campaign. It's a strategy that has had winning results in the past.

Governor made appointments to the Ilinois torture inquiry and relef commission

Associated Press
Sunday, August 1, 2010

CHICAGO (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn has made appointments to several state panels, including the Illinois Prisoner Review Board.

Review board Chairman Jorge Montes is stepping down, and Quinn has named Adam Monreal to replace him.

Monreal is a supervisor in the Department of Insurance’s Workers’
Compensation Fraud Unit. Two other people were also named to the board.

Quinn also made appointments to the newly formed Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission.

The commission will look into claims of torture and recommend which
cases could be prosecuted.

Appointments were also made to the East St. Louis Financial Advisory Authority and the Health Facilities and Services Review Board.

NOW ONLINE! Petition: Standing with Mumia Abu-Jamal
Saturday, July 31, 2010

**Please forward widely— and sign on to the growing list of supporters!
Go to: to sign the petition and view the full list of endorsers**

Keller asks Supreme Court to void rebuke

By: Chuck Lindell
Austin American-Statesman
Friday, July 30, 2010

The Supreme Court has given the judicial conduct commission until Aug. 6 to file their reply to Judge Keller's petition.

Claiming she was improperly reprimanded for her role in a botched execution-day appeal, Judge Sharon Keller asked the Texas Supreme Court on Thursday to throw out the rebuke and order that all allegations against her be dismissed.

The State Commission on Judicial Conduct issued a "public warning" to Keller on July 16, saying she failed to properly perform her duties when she closed the Court of Criminal Appeals clerk's office at 5 p.m. despite knowing that defense lawyers wanted to file an appeal in a pending execution in September 2007.

But in a Supreme Court petition filed Thursday, Keller argued that the