Sunday, April 18, 2004

Are federal prosecutors too aggressive in death penalty cases?

The Roanoke Times wonders here ("Spurt of acquittals raises concerns," 4/18/04), in the wake of the acquittals in the Church and Gilmore case and the dismissal in the Shenandoah National Forest case, whether federal prosecutors are going overboard in their pursuit of the death penalty. The article quotes an unnamed former prosecutor as saying, "If we're turning the corner from failing to get the death penalty to failing to get convictions, that's got to be of great concern." A South Carolina defense lawyer said of the W.D. Va. cases that he "found it striking" that "there have been two major meltdowns of major capital cases in a single district within three months of each other."

UPDATE: The Richmond paper has this article ("LETTER FROM FROM SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA - Man's acquittal vindicates juror who stuck to her convictions," 4/18/04) on the woman from Buchanan County who held out alone for an acquittal at the prior Church trial in 2002, and how his acquittal leaves her feeling vindicated.

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