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Broken Justice: The Death Penalty in Alabama, ACLU, 2005

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A n A C LU R e p o r t

Broken Justice:
The Death Penalty in Alabama
Published October 2005

THE AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION is the nation’s premier guardian
of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend
and preserve the individual rights and freedoms guaranteed by the
Constitution and the laws of the United States.
Nadine Strossen, President
Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director
Richard Zacks, Treasurer

National Office
125 Broad Street, 18th Fl.
New York, NY 10004-2400
(212) 549-2500

As in any major undertaking, producing a report of this size is a collaborative effort. The primary author of Broken
Justice is Rachel King with the assistance of several ACLU Capital Punishment interns, most notably: Katie Dahlen,
Liza Grote, Katherine Grubbs, and Claire Lunman.
The database that formed the backbone of this report came primarily from Lucia Penland of the Alabama Prison
Project. It was expanded and improved upon by Olivia Turner, Kimberly Parker, and Kathanna Culp of the ACLU of
Alabama. Also, Jim Carnes and Kimble Forrister of Alabama Arise contributed significantly to writing and editing.

Sponsoring Organizations:
Alabama Arise
Alabama CURE
Alabama Committee to Abolish the Death Penalty
Alabama Democratic Conference
American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama
Alabama New South Coalition
Alabama Prison Project
Amnesty International
NAACP of Alabama
Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty
Restorative Justice Team, North Alabama Conference, United Methodist Church
Paid for by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation.

Broken Justice: The Death Penalty in Alabama

A n A C LU R e p o r t

Table Of Contents
I. Overview........................................................................................................................ 1
II. The State of Alabama Does Not Provide Adequate Indigent Defense........................ 4
A. Inadequate qualifications for capital defense lawyers.................................... 5
B. Inadequate compensation for capital defense lawyers .................................. 5
C. Post-conviction procedural constraints .......................................................... 6
III. Innocent People Have Been Wrongfully Convicted and Possibly Executed .............. 7
A. Alabama death row exonerees ........................................................................ 7
B. Possibly innocent people who have been executed ........................................ 8
C. Contribution of DNA testing to exonerations ..................................................13
IV. The High Cost of the Death Penalty ..........................................................................14
V. Prosecutorial Misconduct ............................................................................................14
VI. Judicial Overrides and Death Sentencing..................................................................17
VII. Mentally Retarded Defendants and the Death Penalty ............................................18
VIII. Mental Illness and the Death Penalty......................................................................19
IX. Juveniles and the Death Penalty................................................................................20
X. Race and the Death Penalty ........................................................................................21
A. Batson issues ..................................................................................................22
B. Triggerman issues ..........................................................................................22
XI. Conclusions and Recommendations..........................................................................22
Entnotes ..........................................................................................................................24

Broken Justice: The Death Penalty in Alabama

A n A C LU R e p o r t

Broken Justice:
The Death Penalty in Alabama
I. Overview

highest death-sentencing rate.6 In 1999
Alabama sentenced more people to death per
capita than any other state.7 Yet, unlike many
states, Alabama has no statewide public
defender system. At least 30 current death row
prisoners have no lawyer.8 Alabama's death row
occupants are overwhelmingly poor — 95 percent are indigent — and minority.9

Of all the actions carried out by the state, none
warrants more cautious implementation and
stringent review than the imposition of the death
penalty. Yet in Alabama, this most solemn
responsibility remains fraught with inconsistencies and inequities. The structure of the state's
criminal justice system and the power given to
its trial and appellate judges compromise and
limit the ability of capital defendants to get a fair
trial and appropriate sentencing.

The modern era death penalty statutes were
supposed to guarantee that the process was fair
and non-discriminatory. One way of ensuring
accuracy was to create a bifurcated process.
First, there must be a trial to determine guilt.
This is followed by a penalty-phase evidentiary
hearing to determine the appropriate sentence.
In Alabama, the jury's determination at the
penalty phase is a recommendation as to
whether to impose a death sentence. However,
the final decision rests with the trial judge who
holds a third phase, sentencing hearing.10 In
order to obtain a jury recommendation of a
death sentence, the state must prove beyond a
reasonable doubt at least one aggravating factor.11 The defendant may introduce any mitigating factors that are relevant. If the jury finds an
aggravating factor, it must decide whether any
mitigating factors outweigh the aggravating
factor. If a jury finds the aggravating factors
exist and that they outweigh the mitigating factors, the jury may vote to recommend a death
sentence. If not, the jury recommends life. The
vote is not required to be unanimous. No matter what the vote is, the case proceeds to the
third phase, of the judge sentencing. Even if all
jurors vote to recommend life, the judge may
impose a death sentence. The judge is required

In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down all
death penalty statutes in the United States on the
grounds that the way the penalty was applied
was arbitrary, capricious and discriminatory.1
This resulted in the commutation of the sentences of all 629 death row inmates, sending
states scrambling to rewrite their capital punishment statutes. Four years later, the Court upheld
newly crafted death penalty statues.2 Executions
resumed in 1977; as of August 2005,3 981 people have been executed.4 The period after 1976 is
referred to as "the modern death penalty era."
During this same time period, Alabama has
executed 33 individuals, including three in
2005: Mario Giovanni Centobie on April 28,
Jerry Paul Henderson on June 2, and George
Sibley on August 4. Seven people have died on
Alabama's death row before their scheduled
execution date - three from suicide.5
The Death Penalty Information Center has calculated that Alabama has the 6th highest execution rate in the country as well as the 6th

Broken Justice: The Death Penalty in Alabama
to enter a written fact summary into the record
in order to explain the final sentence imposed
on the defendant.


Inadequate defense: Alabama has no
statewide public defender system. Courtappointed defense attorneys are paid at
$40 an hour for time spent outside court
and $60 for time spent in court, significantly below the market rate for lawyers in
private practice. Judges routinely do not
pay lawyers the entire bill for work done
in the case. One lawyer said the court paid
him the equivalent of $4.98 per hour to
defend his client's life. Studies by legal
experts have documented severe shortcomings among these poorly paid lawyers,
including lawyers who fail to investigate
the crime or their clients' background or to
prepare cross-examination or argument
for trial.13


Prosecutorial misconduct: Prosecutorial
misconduct taints judicial proceedings.
Between 1973 and 2003, Alabama appellate
courts found 325 instances of prosecutorial
misconduct. Sixty-nine cases were reversed
because of prosecutorial misconduct.

Despite the Gregg decision, the death penalty
process remains flawed in Alabama, as in many
states. The problems are widespread and reach
into many facets of Alabama's capital punishment and criminal justice systems. A July 2005
poll by the Capital Survey Research Center
found that 57 percent of Alabamians have concerns about the fairness of the death penalty
and would support a moratorium — or a temporary halt — of executions while questions of
fairness and reliability are studied. The same
poll found that 80 percent think that the current
death penalty process could result in the execution of an innocent person.12
This report documents unfairness and unreliability that plague the death penalty system in
Alabama and makes several recommendations,
including a moratorium on executions. The
major areas of focus the report examines are:

Table 1
Comparison of Top 10 Counties with the Largest Number of Death Penalty
Cases (Since 1976) with their Population and Number of Murders


# of

Jefferson . . . . . .27
Mobile . . . . . . . . .26
Montgomery . . . .23
Talladega . . . . . .17
Houston . . . . . . .17
Morgan . . . . . . . .10
Baldwin . . . . . . . 9
Madison . . . . . . . 9
Shelby . . . . . . . . . 9
St. Claire . . . . . . 9


. . . . .13.4
. . . . . 9.4
. . . . . 8.3
. . . . . 6.2
. . . . . 6.2
. . . . . 3.6
. . . . . 3.3
. . . . . 3.3
. . . . . 3.3
. . . . . 3.3



# of


. . . .620,918 . . . . .13.9 . . . .79 . . . . .26
. . . .380,878 . . . . . 8.5 . . . .52 . . . . .17.2
. . . .225,490 . . . . . 5.0 . . . .31 . . . . .10.2
. . . . 80,638 . . . . . . 1.8 . . . . 1 . . . . . . <1
. . . . 84,675 . . . . . . 1.9 . . . . 1 . . . . . . <1
. . . .109,841 . . . . . 2.5 . . . . 5 . . . . . . 1.6
. . . .117,363 . . . . . 2.6 . . . . 6 . . . . . . 2.0
. . . .278,690 . . . . . 6.2 . . . . 9 . . . . . . 3.0
. . . .128,726 . . . . . 2.9 . . . . 1 . . . . . . <1
. . . . 44,525 . . . . . . 1 . . . . . . 1 . . . . . . <1


A n A C LU R e p o r t
Several of these cases were death penalty
cases, including one man who was later
found to be innocent.14

Judicial overrides: Alabama is among the
few states that still allow their judges to
override jury recommendations for lesser
sentences and impose the death penalty in
capital trials.


Execution of the mentally retarded: In the
2002 case of Atkins v. Virginia, the U.S.
Supreme Court declared it a violation of the
Eighth Amendment to execute mentally

retarded offenders.15 However, the Court's
opinion did not define what constituted
"mental retardation," nor did it outline the
procedure to be used to determine if a prisoner was mentally retarded. Since the decision, some states — including Virginia,
Utah, Illinois, Nevada, Idaho, and California
— have passed laws to define retardation
and to delineate the procedure for making
that determination. The Alabama Legislature
has not. As a result, there are no procedural
protections in place to ensure that mentally
retarded people are not sentenced to death or
executed. Furthermore, because not every

Table 2
Comparison of Top 20 Counties with the Largest Populations
with the Number of Death Penalty Cases and the Murder Rates



Jefferson . . . . . .620,918
Mobile . . . . . . . . .380,878
Madison . . . . . . .278,690
Montgomery . . . .225,490
Tuscaloosa . . . . .166,336
Shelby . . . . . . . . .128,726
Baldwin . . . . . . .117,363
Lee . . . . . . . . . . .116,111
Calhoun . . . . . . .113,244
Morgan . . . . . . . .109,841
Etowah . . . . . . . .104,375
Lauderdale . . . . . 88,407
Houston . . . . . . . 84,675
Marshall . . . . . . . 82,959
Talladega . . . . . . 80,638
Cullman . . . . . . . 75,193
Walker . . . . . . . . 70,655
Limestone . . . . . 66,258
DeKalb . . . . . . . . 65,605
Elmore . . . . . . . . 56,000


# of

. . . .13.9 . . .27
. . . . 8.5 . . . .26
. . . . 6.2 . . . . 9
. . . . 5.0 . . . .23
. . . 3.7 . . . . 7
. . . . 2.9 . . . . 9
. . . . 2.6 . . . . 9
. . . . 2.6 . . . . 5
. . . . 2.5 . . . . 8
. . . . 2.5 . . . .10
. . . 2.3 . . . . 6
. . . . 2.0 . . . . 0
. . . . 2.0 . . . .17
. . . . 1.9 . . . . 8
. . . . 1.8 . . . .17
. . . . 1.7 . . . . 1
. . . . 1.6 . . . . 5
. . . . 1.5 . . . . 2
. . . . 1.5 . . . . 1
. . . . 1.3 . . . . 2


# of

. . .13.4 . . . . .79
. . . 9.4 . . . . .52
. . . 3.3 . . . . . 9
. . . 8.3 . . . . .31
. . . 2.5 . . . . . 9
. . . 3.3 . . . . . 1
. . . 3.3 . . . . . 6
. . . 1.8 . . . . . 7
. . .2.90 . . . . .11
. . . 3.6 . . . . . 5
. . . 2.2 . . . . . 5
... 0 ...... 2
. . . 6.2 . . . . . 1
. . .2.90 . . . . . 1
. . . 6.2 . . . . . 1
. . . <1 . . . . . 1
. . . 1.8 . . . . . 0
. . . <1 . . . . . 5
. . . <1 . . . . . 0
. . . <1 . . . . . 1


. . . . . .26
. . . . . .17.2
...... 3
. . . . . .10.2
. . . . . . 3.0
. . . . . . <1
. . . . . . 2.0
. . . . . . 2.3
. . . . . . 3.6
. . . . . . 1.6
. . . . . . 1.6
. . . . . . <1
. . . . . . <1
. . . . . . <1
. . . . . . <1
. . . . . . <1
. . . . . . <1
. . . . . . 1.6
. . . . . . <1
. . . . . . <1

Broken Justice: The Death Penalty in Alabama
death row prisoner in Alabama is represented by counsel, there is a risk that a mentally
retarded person who was sentenced to death
before the Atkins decision could be executed
without any court ever ruling on whether the
execution was unconstitutional.


Claire counties nine death sentences each,
tied for seventh place with two other counties. These disparities suggest that the
death penalty is imposed at a greater rate
in those counties than in others.

II. The State of Alabama Does Not
Provide Adequate Indigent Defense

Racial discrimination: In Alabama, individuals convicted of killing a white person
are much more likely to be sentenced to
death than those convicted of killing an
African American. African Americans
make up 26 percent of Alabama's overall
population but comprise 47 percent of
death row inmates.16 Sixty percent of all
homicide victims in Alabama are African
American, while 80 percent of all inmates
on Alabama's death row have been convicted of crimes in which the victims were
white.17 Of the 32 executions in Alabama
since 1976, 15 have been for crimes involving white defendants and white victims (47
percent), 11 have been for crimes involving
African American defendants and white
victims (34 percent), 5 have been for
crimes involving African American defendants and African American victims (16
percent) and 1 was for a crime involving a
white defendant and an African American
victim (3 percent).18

As noted above, Alabama has no statewide
public defender system. Each judicial circuit
independently determines how to administer
indigent defense. Locally elected circuit
judges along with local indigent defense
commissions decide how each circuit will
provide representation to defendants unable
to pay for their own attorneys. Only four
judicial circuits — Tuscaloosa, Shelby,
Escambia, Conecuh/Monroe counties —
have established centralized public defender
offices. Twenty-six circuits use a courtappointment system in which judges appoint
attorneys from lists maintained without any
established criteria for inclusion on the list
for each circuit. However, giving the judges
the power to appoint attorneys has proven to
be problematic. Judges may appoint attorneys with whom they are personally
acquainted, creating potential conflicts of
interest. Ten circuits employ a contract
defender system, in which circuits hire attorneys for a set monthly fee. The contract
attorneys handle all the indigent cases
regardless of volume while continuing to run
their private practices.

Geographic Disparities: The death
penalty is imposed unevenly throughout
the State of Alabama. Table 1 compares
the ten counties with the highest number
of death penalty cases with the county
population and number of homicides. Four
counties ranking within the top ten highest
number of death sentences account for
less than 1 percent of the overall number
of murders.19 The counties are: Talladega
County, 17 death sentences, the fourth
highest number of any county; Houston
County 15 death sentences, the fifth highest of any county, and Shelby and St.

For wrongful convictions and sentences to be
challenged effectively, death row inmates need
lawyers. Alabama has no mechanism or statefunded agency to provide post-conviction counsel for persons sentenced to death. Florida,
Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina,
South Carolina and Tennessee all have established systems for providing counsel to indigent

A n A C LU R e p o r t
death row prisoners.20 State law in Alabama does
permit a judge to appoint a lawyer for post-conviction proceedings, but the law does not authorize any appointment of counsel until a prisoner
has filed a petition with the court.21

Other death penalty states have much more
stringent requirements for appointed capital
lawyers. Virginia, for instance, requires
appointed capital counsel to have six hours of
specialized training in capital litigation within
the past two years and five years of criminal litigation practice - including experience as
defense counsel in at least five jury trials for
defendants charged with serious crimes. In
2002, Virginia opened four regional capital
defense offices to represent and coordinate representation for indigent individuals charged
with a capital crime.24 Similarly, North
Carolina requires appointed lead counsel to
have tried a capital case to a verdict or to a
hung jury as defense counsel, or to have represented defendants to disposition in four homicide cases at the trial level.25

A. Inadequate qualifications for capital
defense lawyers
Historically, Alabama's required qualifications
for capital defense counsel fall far below the
American Bar Association's guidelines for the
appointment of defense counsel for death penalty cases. Alabama merely requires five years'
prior experience in the active practice of criminal law - with no distinction as to kinds of cases
litigated or kinds of criminal law practiced. This
is far from adequate preparation for the intricacies of a capital case. An attorney who spends
five years representing defendants facing minor
criminal charges such as shoplifting or trespassing will satisfy Alabama's capital counsel
requirement. Such attorneys may be fine attorneys and able to provide misdemeanor defendants with very competent representation.
However, the significant differences and complexities in capital trials and the severity and
finality of the death penalty require attorneys to
have specific capital experience. The ABA
guidelines ask that capital attorneys have "substantial knowledge and understanding of the relevant state, federal and international law, both
procedural and substantive," that governs capital
cases. And capital attorneys should also demonstrate "a skill in investigation, preparation and
presentation of mitigating evidence."22

B. Inadequate compensation for capital
defense lawyers
Lawyers must receive adequate compensation
in order to defend the rights of their clients
most effectively. Financial resources can buy
time, experts, investigators, DNA testing —
all important aspects of the legal process
required to explore an inmate's legal history
and options. Alabama provides only minimal
compensation for lawyers in death penalty
cases: $60 an hour for in-court work and $40
an hour for out-of-court work and no compensation for expenses. Historically, Alabama
capped the total defense costs for both trial
and post-conviction work at a maximum of
$2000. The cap has been lifted for trial work,
but it still exists for post-conviction work.
However, some trial attorneys have reported
that they were not fully compensated for all of
the hours they worked.26

In January 2005, the Alabama Circuit Court
Judges' Association adopted these guidelines as a
model for use in capital cases.23 These are not mandates and it is too early to tell if this action will
have any affect on the quality of representation.
However, it is a positive step. Unfortunately, it does
not change the fact that many people now on death
row did not have adequate representation at trial.

These funding rates and caps are vastly insufficient for the amount of work required to properly represent an inmate's rights.27 The funding
cap must also be lifted for post-conviction

Broken Justice: The Death Penalty in Alabama
work, which sometimes requires even more
preparation than trial representation because
the post-conviction lawyer must be familiar
with both the inmate's original trial and postconviction claims. With such severe limits on
attorney compensation, Alabama's indigent
death row inmates essentially obtain counsel
only when lawyers are willing to work for free.
Often lawyers who are working on capital
cases have to make tough choices as to where
to spend their time and resources. Post-conviction lawyers must search diligently for mitigating evidence, which sometimes includes hiring
experts or doing extensive investigation themselves to search the defendant's "psycho-social
background."28 This kind of research is where
corners are often cut if budgets are tight and
time is limited.

conclusions of law shall not be sufficient to
warrant any further proceedings."31 This raises
the bar very high, especially for death row prisoners who have to file the petitions on their
own without the assistance of counsel.
In addition, Rule 32 prevents defendants from
raising issues of newly discovered evidence
more than six months after the evidence is discovered. Even if new evidence is discovered that
clearly places the defendant's guilt into question,
this rule restricts an inmate's ability to be heard
in court at all.32 Further, the rule puts up additional obstacles because the newly discovered
evidence must also clearly establish either that
the defendant is innocent of the crime charged or
that the inmate should not have received the
death sentence.33 This standard is almost impossible to meet. Many petitions for post-conviction
relief from death row are procedurally defaulted
for failing to meet this steep burden. A person
may have evidence indicating possible innocence but not be able to meet the high standard
of clearly establishing innocence. Thus, no
court will hold a hearing on this new evidence.

C. Post-conviction procedural constraints
Even if a defendant manages to secure a
lawyer, an inmate on death row in Alabama still
faces significant obstacles. Alabama law limits
the period within which an inmate can present
post-conviction challenges. Alabama's Rule 32
of the Rules of Criminal Procedure governs an
inmate's ability to raise issues in post-conviction proceedings regarding errors at trial and to
bring up new evidence.29 Rule 32 prevents convicted defendants from raising issues of trial
error more than one year after a death sentence
is certified.30 Any claim of error must be made
within one year of the first imposition of the
death sentence if the inmate has any hope of
obtaining a new trial or a new sentencing hearing. The Rules of Criminal Procedure in
Alabama also lay out strict guidelines on filing
an adequate petition. In order to withstand an
immediate dismissal from the judge, the petition must contain "a clear and specific statement of the grounds upon which relief is
sought, including full disclosure of the factual
basis of those grounds. A bare allegation that a
constitutional right has been violated and mere

Furthermore, a state court may dismiss a postconviction claim based solely on procedural
errors — such as missing a filing deadline —
without considering the merits of the claim.
This is likely to happen when inmates are
forced to file their own claims. If this happens,
a federal court is also unlikely to consider the
substantive claims.34 This means that even prisoners with meritorious claims may be executed
without a court ever considering whether they
have a legitimate claim for relief.35
Robert Lee Tarver, executed by the State of
Alabama on April 14, 2000, is one example.
Mr. Tarver, an African American man, had been
on death row for the murder of a white man.
Prior to his execution, Mr. Tarver had obtained
an affidavit from the district attorney who prosecuted his case that the prosecution considered

A n A C LU R e p o r t
race when selecting his jury pool. Specifically,
the District Attorney acknowledged using his
peremptory challenges deliberately to exclude
prospective African American jurors because
of their race,36 a practice that has been declared
unconstitutional by the U. S. Supreme Court.
Despite this acknowledgement, the Court of
Criminal Appeals of Alabama denied relief to
Mr. Tarver because the affidavit did not meet
the requirements of Rule 32.

es testified that at the time of the murder, he
was at a fish fry with his sister. Despite this testimony, prosecutors instead relied on the testimony of a convicted murderer who later recanted his accusation to convict McMillian. The
prosecution illegally withheld tape-recorded
evidence of the state's primary witness recanting his testimony. After McMillian was found
guilty at trial, the jury voted 7-5 for the sentence of life without the possibility of parole,
but the judge overrode this decision and sentenced him to death. McMillian spent six years
on death row before his case unraveled, every
witness against him recanted and his conviction was thrown out.

III. Innocent People Have Been
Wrongfully Convicted and Possibly

2. James "Bo" Cochran (African American;
convicted 1976, exonerated 1997)

As of August 2005, 121 prisoners throughout
the country have been exonerated and released
from death row during the modern era because
they were innocent of the crime. During this
same time period, 972 people have been executed.37 This means that for every eight executions, one person is released from death row
because proven innocent. These people spent
an average of nine years in prison before their
sentences were overturned. This is a terrible
tragedy for the person who was wrongfully
convicted, but it also means that the guilty person remained at large, perhaps harming others.

Cochran spent over twenty years on death
row before he was released. After a mistrial,
two separate convictions that were overturned, and a final trial, Cochran was found
innocent. The lawyers at his first trial
received only $1000 for their work. In both of
his trials that resulted in conviction, the jury
was composed of eleven white jurors and one
African American. His final trial took place
before seven African American and five white

During the modern era, five prisoners in
Alabama have been exonerated of all charges.
Another, Daniel Wade Moore, was released
from prison after the trial court dismissed all
charges against him; but the state is appealing
that dismissal.38

3. Larry Randall Padgett (white; convicted
1992, exonerated 1997)
Padgett was convicted of killing his wife,
Cathy Padgett, in 1990. He was convicted at his
first trial and the jury recommended a sentence
of life without parole, which the judge overrode and sentenced him to death. Five years
later, he was granted a new trial because of
harmful prosecutorial misconduct. The prosecuting attorney had withheld from the defense
crucial blood test results until the fourth day of
the initial trial. In the new trial, Padgett was
found not guilty.

A. Alabama death row exonerees39
1. Walter McMillian (African American;
convicted 1988, exonerated 1993)
Mr. McMillian was accused of murdering a
white woman and spent over a year in jail
before his trial. At his trial, numerous witness7

Broken Justice: The Death Penalty in Alabama
5. Wesley Quick (white,
convicted 1997, acquitted

Birmingham Post-Herald Photo

An Alabama jury acquitted
death row inmate Wesley Quick
of the 1995 double murder for
which he was sentenced to
death in 1997. The jury acquitted Quick at the conclusion of
his third trial for this crime.
Quick's first trial ended in a
mistrial because of juror misconduct, but a second jury convicted him in 1997.40 During
that second trial, defense counsel tried to impeach the state's
witness with prior inconsistent
statements from the first trial,
but the judge would not allow
the attorney to use his notes,
and would not provide counsel
with a copy of the transcript
from the previous trial. Quick
was found guilty and sentenced
to death. The Alabama Court of
Criminal Appeals overturned that verdict in
2001, stating that the judge in Quick's second
trial was wrong to deny Quick a free copy of the
transcript from the previous mistrial in light of
his indigent status.

Gary Drinkard
4. Gary Drinkard (white; convicted 1995,
exonerated 2001)
Drinkard served eight years in prison and five
on death row for a murder he didn't commit. In
1993, he was arrested for the murder and robbery of a local junk car dealer. It was two years
before he was sentenced to death and moved to
death row. The guilty verdict and death sentence from his first trial were overthrown
because of prosecutorial misconduct (prior
convictions for prior crimes brought out at
trial) and because he was represented by
lawyers who had never specialized in criminal
law and failed to present any mitigating evidence at his trial. At his second trial, he was
represented by competent capital defense attorneys, who successfully brought in new testimony and evidence that led to his acquittal.

During Quick's third trial for the double murder, at which he received experienced representation, he testified that he did not commit the
murders but said he was at the scene and saw
the state's star witness against him, Jason
Beninati, kill the men.41 Beninati was never
charged with committing the crime.
B. Possibly innocent people who have
been executed
There have been no definitive cases during
the modern era where it was proven that an

A n A C LU R e p o r t
drove off with Rolon. Horsley later returned
alone and on foot. Baldwin and Horsley were
arrested, tried, and convicted for the murder of
Naomi Rolon.

Birmingham Post-Herald Photo

Baldwin was both beaten and cattle-prodded to
obtain information about the whereabouts of
Naomi Rolon. When Rolon's body was found,
Baldwin was beaten and prodded again until he
signed a "confession" that included inaccurate
information, including the wrong weapon. In a
separate confession, Horsley claimed Baldwin
was the murderer, but he supplied accurate
information about the murder weapon and the
attack. The information was added to
Baldwin's confession after the fact, as was the
signature of a deputy who claimed to have witnessed Baldwin's waiver of rights, but who was
not present.
The trial lasted only two days - August 8 and
9, 1977. Baldwin's court-appointed attorneys
conducted no investigation and presented no
witnesses other than Baldwin himself, even
though Baldwin had identified potential witnesses who might have corroborated his torture claim. According to Baldwin, his lawyer
met with him for a total of 20 minutes before
the trial. Baldwin's attorney also failed to
object when the prosecution suggested that a
sexual assault might have taken place, even
though Baldwin had never been charged with
sexual assault. Baldwin was found guilty of
murder and sentenced to die.

Wesley Quick
innocent person was executed. However,
there are three cases in Alabama in which
people who had very strong claims of innocence and who did not have a fair trial were
1. Brian K. Baldwin (African American,
convicted and sentenced to death 1977, executed June 18, 1999)42

In addition, jurors did not learn that Rolon
apparently had been beaten and stabbed by a
left-handed person and that Baldwin was
right-handed, that there was blood on
Horsley's — but not on Baldwin's — clothes,
or that Baldwin's purported confession was
wrong about important facts. The trial judge,
Robert E. Lee Key, called Baldwin a "boy"
during the trial, and the prosecution called
him "a savage."

On March 14, 1977, 16-year-old Naomi Rolon
was murdered. Prior to her murder, Rolon had
picked up Brian Baldwin, age 18, and Edward
Horsley, age 17, in North Carolina and driven
them to Alabama. Baldwin and Horsley had
recently escaped from a youth detention center.
In Alabama, Baldwin stole a truck. Horsley

Broken Justice: The Death Penalty in Alabama
The Alabama courts rejected Baldwin's appeal,
but the U.S. Supreme Court remanded the case
for further state proceedings in light of its decision in Beck v. Alabama,43 holding that
Alabama juries had to be given the option of
finding defendants in capital cases guilty of a
lesser-included non-capital offense when the
facts would support such a finding. Soon thereafter, the U.S. Supreme Court clarified its Beck
finding in Hooper v. Evans.44 In view of the
Hooper decision, the Court of Criminal
Appeals granted a rehearing in Baldwin's case
and reinstated his death sentence, holding that
the evidence supported no verdict other than
Next, Baldwin moved for post-conviction relief
in state court, raising claims of ineffective
assistance of counsel and racial discrimination
in jury selection. After a two-day hearing,
Judge Key denied the ineffective assistance
claim on the merits and held that Baldwin's
additional claims were procedurally barred
because they could have been, but had not
been, asserted on direct appeal. That decision
was affirmed by the Court of Criminal Appeals
and the Alabama Supreme Court; the U.S.
Supreme Court declined review.46 In 1991, U.S.
District Court Judge Richard Vollmer, Jr., of
the Southern District of Alabama, denied a federal writ of habeas corpus with a 177-page
order, holding that the Alabama courts had
fully and fairly considered the ineffective assistance claim and that the other issues were procedurally barred from consideration.
As Baldwin appealed Vollmer's decision,
Horsley wrote a statement in 1994 asserting
that he alone had killed Rolon. According to
Horsely, Baldwin had been unaware that Rolon
was dead at the time of their arrest.
As Baldwin's execution approached, his
lawyers video-taped a deposition with a former
Wilcox County deputy sheriff, Nathaniel

Manzie, who stated that Baldwin was beaten
during interrogation and that a cattle prod was
present in the jail at the time, although Manzie
did not see it used on Baldwin. In addition,
Manzie admitted signing a statement falsely
stating that Baldwin had waived his right to
counsel. It was at this point that Baldwin's
lawyers also obtained the forensic report indicating that Rolon's wounds had been inflicted
by a left-handed person.
By now, however, Baldwin's appeals had been
exhausted. At no point during the 22-year
appellate process had a court considered the
merits of his innocence claim. His last hope
was clemency from Alabama Governor Don
Siegelman, who met privately with Manzie.
During the meeting, Manzie inexplicably
recanted his previous sworn statements indicating Baldwin's confession had been coerced.
Despite last-minute pleas from, among others,
former President Jimmy Carter, Coretta Scott
King, and members of the Congressional Black
Caucus, Siegelman allowed the execution to
proceed on June 18, 1999.
2. Cornelius Singleton (African American,
convicted and sentenced to death 1981, executed November 20, 1992)47
Cornelius Singleton was convicted by an allwhite jury of capital murder based largely on a
coerced confession. Singleton had an IQ
between 55 and 65.
After his arrest, Singleton was interrogated for
several hours. There were a number of concerns about Singleton's "confession." Although
he was severely mentally limited, he did not
have the benefit of counsel during the interrogation. The police told him, untruthfully, that
he could not get the death penalty for the
crime. Also, the police brought his girlfriend to
the station and told Singleton she could sit on
his lap in exchange for waiving his right to

A n A C LU R e p o r t
silence. Initially, Singleton thought he was
being questioned about a recent incident
involving bedsheets, in which Singleton
thought he was buying bed sheets from another resident in his boarding house, but his neighbor had reported that her sheets were stolen.

There was no evidence to link Singleton to
the crime or the crime scene and no evidence
that he knew the victim or had a motive to
kill the victim. Eyewitnesses in the area
described a suspicious white man with long
blonde hair lurking around the cemetery on
the day of the murder. There was some blood
The District Attorney reportedly dictated a con- on the victim's blouse and the outline of a
fession, which he asked Singleton to repeat hand with fingers pointing downward on the
aloud while another
back of the blouse.
officer recorded it as if
The state failed to
it were Singleton's own
Singleton went to the electric investigate eyewitness
accounts and failed to
chair in 1992. His IQ — in the link the forensic eviSingleton was then
range of 55 to 65 — was lower dence to Singleton.
taken to the cemetery
than that of anyone executed Singleton's
where the murder took
courtplace and was quesin the United States during appointed attorney
tioned about specific
refused to meet with
the past quarter-century.
details, which he could
him and didn't tell the
not answer. According
jury that his client
to Singleton, the vicwas retarded. Judge
tim's pager and some papers were on the Ferrill McRae allowed prosecutors to make
ground and the police told him to pick them up, inflammatory final arguments to the jury —
but he refused. He was then returned to the one called the defendant a "creature [that] I
police station where he was told to sign the can't refer to as a person or a human being"
confession. He could not read, but he signed — and at sentencing dismissed the testimony
the "confession" with an X after being told that of four defense psychologists while crediting
other charges pending against him would be a prosecution expert who said that Singleton
dropped. In fact, no charges were pending. His was intellectually limited but not retarded.
girlfriend witnessed his signature, "X."
After the jury recommended a life sentence,
Judge McRae overrode that decision and
In order to secure a capital conviction, the state imposed a death sentence.
needed to convict Singleton not only of murder,
but also of an aggravating circumstance, in this The conviction was upheld on appeal.48
case, robbery. The state alleged the victim's watch Singleton went to the electric chair in 1992.
was missing and undertook an extensive search His IQ — in the range of 55 to 65 — was lower
of the home of Singleton's grandfather. The than that of anyone executed in the United
search failed to turn up the watch. A second, brief States during the past quarter-century.
search subsequently was conducted and the
watch was found in plain sight on his grandfa- This case was cited in the United Nations'
ther's mantel. The watch served as evidence that 1992 Country Report for the United States
the victim had been killed during the commission from the Special Rapporteur's Report on
of a felony robbery, which provided the necessary Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary
special circumstances for a capital conviction.

Broken Justice: The Death Penalty in Alabama
3. Freddie Lee Wright (African American,
convicted and sentenced to death 1979, executed March 3, 2000.)50
Warren and Lois Green, a white couple, were
shot and killed during an armed robbery at their
Western Auto Store in Mount Vernon,
Alabama. Police initially charged another man,
Theodore Roberts, with the murders after an
eyewitness, Mary Johnson, identified him in a
photograph and a police line-up. Roberts' girlfriend also told police that his gun was the murder weapon. However, seven months after the
murders, charges against Roberts were
dropped, and Wright was charged instead, after
two men involved in the crime, Percy Craig and
Roger McQueen, named him as the gunman. A
third man also implicated Wright, but later
retracted his accusation; however, he did not
testify at the trial, and the jury did not hear this
evidence. It took two trials to convict Freddie
Lee Wright. The first trial, with a mixed-race
jury, voted eleven to one in favor of acquittal,
resulting in a mistrial. An all-white jury convicted him of armed robbery and capital murder in the second trial.
At his first trial in 1979, the prosecution presented testimony from Craig and McQueen, as
well as expert testimony that a handgun traced
to Wright was ''consistent with'', but not positively identified as, the murder weapon. The
mixed race jury voted 11-1 to acquit and a mistrial was declared. Having come within one
vote of acquittal, Freddie Wright was retried
about a month later.
Craig and McQueen again testified against
Wright. This time the jury was all-white after
the prosecutor, without objection from the
defense, removed black prospective jurors during jury selection. Appeals courts later rejected
the claim that the prosecutor acted in a racially
discriminatory manner, on the grounds that the
claim should have been raised earlier. Aside

(Left to right) Esther Brown with Protect
Hope To Abolish The Death Penalty joins
Alabama death row exonerees Gary
Drinkard and James “Bo” Cochran at an
event to end the Death Penalty.
from the racial mix of the jury, the other difference from the first trial was that Wright's former girlfriend, Doris Lambert, testified that
Wright had confessed the murders to her. After
a two-day trial Wright was convicted and sentenced to death.
Wright's attorney continued to represent him in
the appeals process, even after claims of ineffective representation were raised. Wright's
attorney was subsequently disbarred. The
District Attorney acknowledged that he should
have disclosed evidence about Doris Lambert's
psychiatric history and about deals made with
Wright's co-defendants. In the course of denying Wright's habeas corpus petition, the

A n A C LU R e p o r t
Eleventh Circuit was critical of the state's conduct. However, it denied relief, holding that
most of Wright's claims were procedurally
barred because they had not been raised at trial
or on direct appeal.51

There are now at least one



Americans who have been
exonerated by post-conviction

Two justices of the Alabama Supreme Court
dissented from the denial of a stay of execution, on the grounds that the "petition recites
persuasive facts that support the conclusion
that [Wright] is innocent and that his conviction results from lack of a fair trial."52

DNA testing.
scionably in prison or on death row but the
real perpetrator remains free to commit serious crimes. In thirty-four of the post-conviction DNA exonerations in the United States,
the actual perpetrator was identified through
that same DNA, preventing more crime and
protecting potential victims.53

C. The contribution of DNA testing to
Where DNA may be ascertainable from evidence, defendants who have been convicted of
crimes should be given access to DNA testing
if they were not given a chance to test the evidence at trial or if new evidence or new testing procedures become available. Post-conviction DNA testing has led to the release of
many innocent people as attested to by Peter
J. Neufeld, Co-Director of the Innocence
Project, before the House Judiciary
Committee in 2003:

In order to ensure that post-conviction DNA
testing can occur, it is necessary to preserve evidence from the trial until the person is executed.
Alabama does not have a law requiring that evidence in capital cases be preserved. In 2004,
Congress passed a law that provides money to
states to establish post-conviction testing procedures.54 In order to qualify for the funds to establish this protocol, the Alabama Legislature must
pass a law that provides for preservation of evidence and post-conviction testing. The majority
of states have statutes that provide for post-conviction testing. Five states — Massachusetts,
Mississippi, Rhode Island, Ohio and South
Carolina — are considering legislation to provide testing. Iowa recently considered and failed
to pass a post-conviction testing statute.

There are now at least one hundred and thirty-two Americans who have been exonerated by post-conviction DNA testing. Twelve
of the exonerated were at one time on death
row. Almost all of them had exhausted their
appeals and post-conviction remedies. But
for the serendipitous rescue by DNA, there
is little doubt they would have been executed. Over forty of the exonerated were convicted of murder and many of them would
have almost certainly faced execution if the
death penalty had been applicable in the
jurisdictions where they were tried.
Collectively, these one hundred and thirtytwo individuals have served 1,397 years in
prison. With every wrongful conviction, not
only does an innocent person suffer uncon-

The only other states besides Alabama that
have no law and are not considering passing
one at this time are Alaska, Vermont,Wyoming
and North Dakota.55 South Dakota does not
provide for testing by statute, but does through
case law. Neither Alaska, Wyoming, nor North
Dakota are death penalty states so there is no
danger that any innocent person will be executed in those states.

Broken Justice: The Death Penalty in Alabama

IV. The High Cost of the Death
Many diverse states — Tennessee, Kansas,
Indiana, North Carolina, Florida, California
and Texas — have found that capital cases cost
substantially more than convicting and sentencing defendants to life in prison.56 Death
penalty trials take longer than other trials;
attorneys for both parties spend substantially
more time preparing for death penalty cases,
and the actual cost of executing a human being
is high. Judges in Alabama have commented on
the significant costs of convicting, sentencing
and executing defendants. In 2003, judges in
Limestone, Walker and Jefferson counties
acknowledged that death penalty trials contribute noticeably to their respective counties'
high jury costs.57 District Attorneys in Alabama
also have recognized the high costs and strain
of prosecuting so many capital cases. In
February 2003, Montgomery D.A. Ellen
Brooks, a 26-year veteran of prosecuting criminal cases, acknowledged that the high staffing
and resource requirements of death penalty
cases caused prosecution efforts to suffer in all
cases prosecuted by her office.58
Not only is the prosecution of death penalty
cases hampering the criminal justice system,
but the complicated and error-ridden prosecution is a serious — if uncalculated — drain on
state and local budgets. Alabama's citizens
deserve for their tax dollars to be utilized in the
most efficient way possible instead of allowing
inefficiencies in the criminal justice system to
impinge on essential state services. This is particularly true if you consider that, between
1976 and 2000, sixty percent of capital trials
ended up with conviction reversals due to significant trial error.59 Given Alabama's severe
shortage of funding, the state cannot responsibly continue to strain its budget by pouring
millions of dollars into error-ridden and inef-

Tennessee, Kansas, Indiana,
California and Texas — have
found that capital cases cost
substantially more than convicting
and sentencing defendants to
life in prison.
fective capital trials and executions, with the
danger that the state and the defense will have
to retry the case over, sometimes repeatedly,
because it was reversed for errors.

V. Prosecutorial misconduct
Prosecutorial misconduct in death penalty
cases is a major problem in Alabama.
Inappropriate actions or statements made during the trial by prosecutors can result in wrongful conviction, and, if detected, require a new
trial or re-sentencing. Failure to disclose exculpatory evidence can result in the wrong person
being convicted. Reversals by the Alabama
appellate courts use up valuable resources from
the state and the judicial system.
The Center for Public Integrity examined criminal cases in Alabama starting in 1970. They
found that between 1970 and 2003 there were
325 allegations of misconduct. Of these, 69
decisions were reversed or remanded.63 Of the
cases of prosecutorial misconduct 28 involved
discrimination in jury selection, 27 involved
unethical acts during trial, nine involved withholding evidence from the defense, three
involved a prosecutor violating ethical rules by
testifying in the case, one involved the denial of
a speedy trial and one involved the use of perjured testimony.64


A n A C LU R e p o r t

Some Quick Facts
About Alabama's Death Penalty
1. In Batson v. Kentucky,60 the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that the Equal
Protection clause forbids a state from using peremptory strikes to
remove jurors from the jury pool solely on the basis of race, yet it is a
practice that unfortunately persists.61 Batson violations have been identified in 14 cases since 1986; in one of these cases, the defendant was
subsequently exonerated.
2. Alabama still allows individuals to be given sentences of death for
crimes in which they themselves did not "pull the trigger." Six cases during the modern era have involved defendants sentenced to death when
they were not actually the person who committed the murder.
3. Judges have the legal authority to override the jury's recommendation
in capital cases. Judges have exercised override authority in at least 57
death cases during the modern era.62 Although judges have the authority
to override a jury recommendation either way — that is to give a life sentence instead of a recommended death sentence or to give a death sentence instead of a recommended life sentence — only two of the overrides
were from death recommendations to life sentences. Interestingly, both of
those cases involved African American defendants. Fifty-four death row
inmates were given sentences of death by the sentencing judges — overruling the life sentences recommended by the juries. Twenty-five cases
involved white defendants, 28 involved African American defendants and in
one the race was unknown. This means that 25 percent of inmates who
were sentenced to death during the modern era were given this sentence
over the recommendation of the jury. Thirty-four separate judges took
advantage of their judicial override authority to change a sentence of life
in prison to death. However, 40 percent of those decisions came from the
courts of four judges — H. Randall Thomas, Braxton Kittrell, Philip
Segrest and Ferrill McRae. Judicial overrides are most common in Mobile
and Montgomery counties.


Broken Justice: The Death Penalty in Alabama
Nineteen of the 69 reversals were in death
penalty cases. Two of those 19 cases were
reversed two times because of prosecutorial
misconduct — Timothy Powell and Phillip
Prosecutorial misconduct tends to go hand in
hand with ineffective assistance of counsel. A
prosecutor is much more likely to break rules if
he or she is not facing a zealous advocate on
the other side. Prosecutorial misconduct adds
to the costs of the system when cases are
The following cases illustrate examples of
prosecutorial misconduct.
Albert Lee Jefferson was convicted and sentenced to death. On appeal, defense counsel
learned that the prosecution had withheld evidence that contradicted the state's witnesses
who had claimed to have seen Jefferson at the
crime scene. Had the defense had access to this
evidence at trial, it could have used it to
impeach the eyewitnesses' testimony.65 Mr.
Jefferson is now serving a sentence of life without parole.

turned for prosecutorial misconduct; this time
for improper comments made during closing
argument. Three other cases Brooks prosecuted were overturned because the misconduct
was so severe that the reviewing courts
declared that it had deprived the defendants of
a fair trial.67
In another case involving Brooks, the appellate
court reversed James Lewis Martin's capital
murder conviction because "the verdict here
was so tainted by the prosecutorial nondisclosure of material evidence that it is not worthy
of confidence."68
The Harmful Error report found an extensive
history of misconduct on the part of prosecutor
Chris Galanos from Mobile County. The report
Chris Galanos, who served as the jurisdiction's district attorney from 1979 to 1994,
was responsible for at least 10 reversed
convictions. In one case, judges ruled that
Galanos withheld evidence from the
defense; in another, a dissenting judge
ruled that Galanos did not disclose evidence to opposing counsel. In three, he
tried to serve as both prosecutor and state's
witness. Galanos, 56, served as a circuit
judge for the same district until he retired
from the bench in 1999; he is now in private practice. He did not respond to
requests for an interview.

In the case of Timothy Powell, Prosecutor
Ellen Brooks used 13 out of 16 available
strikes to eliminate jurors, all of whom were
African American. The all-white jury found
Powell guilty and sentenced him to death.
When asked her reasons for dismissing the
jurors, Brooks stated that the jurors she
removed had been too young or had traffic
violations on their records.66 Later it was discovered that seven of the 12 white jurors
selected to serve on the case had equally serious traffic violations and many were younger
than the African American jurors who had
been removed. After these discoveries, Powell
was awarded a new trial. At this second trial,
he was again convicted and sentenced to
death, but the sentence was once more over-

Galanos' repeated attempts to serve as both
the prosecutor and the state's witness
prompted appellate judges to reverse three
defendants' convictions.
During David Lee Waldrop's trial for a
1977 double capital murder, Galanos
served as both the prosecutor and the state's
chief witness. An appeals court reversed
Waldrop's conviction in October 1982.

A n A C LU R e p o r t

VI. Judicial Overrides and Death

In 1982, Galanos prosecuted Bobby
Tarver for capital murder. Again, Galanos
attempted to win the conviction by serving as "the sole prosecutor that gave the
opening and closing arguments, called all
of the State's witnesses, and called himself as a witness to testify on behalf of
the State." The appellate court reversed
Tarver's conviction in June 1986.

Alabama is one of only three states where the
trial judge has the legal authority to disregard
a jury's recommended sentence and impose a
different one. The other two states are
Delaware and Indiana; however, judges use
the power much less frequently in those states
and have basically stopped using it since the
Supreme Court's Ring decision.72

In 1988, the appeals court reversed
Robert Gilchrist's murder conviction due
to the same conduct. "The district attorney for the 13th Judicial Circuit,
Honorable Chris Galanos, performed all
the functions of trial counsel, then testified as a witness, then resumed his role as
counsel examining the witnesses and
made the closing argument before the

Although a judge technically can override a
jury decision either direction — change a life
sentence to a death sentence or vice versa —
in practice, overrides almost always involve
judges imposing death sentences after the
jury recommended life. We only identified
two cases in which the judge changed a death
sentence to a life sentence. Because Alabama
judges are elected, they are likely to feel pressure from their voting public to impose the
death penalty to show they are "tough on

Phillip Tomlin's case exemplifies how
pervasive prosecutorial misconduct can
be. His convictions were reversed three
times. At his first and second trial
Houston County prosecutor Donald
Valeska improperly remarked about the
defendant's failure to take the stand as
well as making other inappropriate comments. 70 The death sentence imposed
after Tomlin's third trial was reversed due
to a juror's failure to disclose a criminal
conviction with which Valeska should
have been familiar. After each conviction,
the jury recommended a sentence of life
without parole; three times the judge
overruled the jury's decision and sentenced Tomlin to death. Ultimately, the
Alabama Supreme Court intervened and
ordered the trial court to impose a life
sentence.71 Valeska represented the state
in each of Philip Tomlin's four trials. In
each trial, his acts as prosecutor directly
caused retrial and reversals, yet he never
faced any consequences.

During the modern era, judges have overridden 57 cases from life to death. Twenty-one
of those cases involved white defendants
and 23 had black defendants. At least sixteen percent of the prisoners on Alabama's
death row are there as a result of judicial
Although the trial court is legally required to
make written findings concerning the evidence it relied upon in determining the aggravating and mitigating circumstances (particularly non-statutory mitigating circumstances)
and must state reasons for not following the
jury's life recommendation, trial judges have
significant leeway in deciding to override
jury decisions. It is extremely unusual for an
appellate court to reverse a trial judge's override decision.

Broken Justice: The Death Penalty in Alabama
In 1995, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that
Alabama's judicial override system was constitutional in Harris v. Alabama.75 We share the
view of Justice Stevens who observed in dissent: "The absence of any rudder on a judge's
free-floating power to negate the community's
will renders Alabama's capital sentencing
scheme fundamentally unfair."76
One judge who has gained notoriety because of
his frequent use of the override power is Judge
Ferrill McRae from Mobile County. Judge
McRae issued his first death sentence in 1981
and has sent many more defendants to the
death chamber since then. In six cases, more
than any other judge in the state, he's employed
his override discretion - six times that he has
'enhanced' a jury's call for life without parole
into a death sentence instead.77 Five of the six
men that he has sentenced to die were African
American, and he has never substituted a life
sentence for a jury verdict of death.
One of those men was Cornelius Singleton, the
possibly innocent mentally retarded African
American man whose case was discussed in
Part III, section B.

VII. Mentally Retarded Defendants
and the Death Penalty
In the 2002 case of Atkins v. Virginia,78 the
U.S. Supreme Court declared it a violation of
the Eighth Amendment to execute mentally
retarded offenders.79 The Court held that
because of their disabilities in areas of reasoning, judgment and control of their impulses, mentally retarded people did not act with
the level of moral culpability that characterizes the most serious adult criminal conduct.
The Court also concluded that their impairments could jeopardize the reliability and fairness of the capital proceedings. Prior to
Atkins, the State of Alabama executed at least

four people who were mentally retarded:
Horace Dunkin, Cornelius Singleton, Willie
Clisby and Varnell Weeks.80
However, the Court's opinion did not define
what constituted mental retardation, nor did it
outline the procedure to be used to determine if
a prisoner was mentally retarded. As previously mentioned, the Alabama Legislature has yet
to pass a law to come into compliance with the
Atkins decision. As a result, there are no procedural protections in place to ensure that mentally retarded people are not sentenced to death
or executed. Furthermore, because not every
death row prisoner in Alabama is represented
by counsel, there is a risk that a mentally
retarded person who was sentenced to death
before the Atkins decision could be executed
without any court ever ruling on whether the
execution was unconstitutional.The problem
remains how to make sure that the nearly 200
prisoners on Alabama's death row can raise this
issue, if it is relevant in their case.
The Alabama Court of Appeals in Morrow v.
State81 concluded that, until the Alabama
Legislature acts to clarify these issues, the
courts should use Rule 32 to determine whether
a capital defendant is mentally retarded.
However, the Alabama Court of Appeals
expressed its desire that the Legislature enact
procedures for determining mental retardation
before the trial begins, to save the state and
defense the time and expense of pursuing a
death penalty case if the person is ineligible to
be executed.
The procedures vary from state to state in
the burden of proof, in the specificity of the
procedures, and in whether the determination is made by a court or a jury, but many
of the states with such procedures recognize that the issue of mental retardation
should be raised as soon as practicable. . . .

A n A C LU R e p o r t
[W]here the court makes a pre-trial determination of whether the defendant is mentally retarded [it] thereby spares both the
State and the defendant the onerous burden
of a futile bifurcated capital sentencing

the crime. Or after they committed the crime,
they may have become incompetent to stand
trial or after they have been convicted, they
may develop a mental illness that makes them
incompetent to be executed.
The Supreme Court has held that it is unconstitutional to execute insane people.86 However, it
is extremely difficult to prove insanity, and
despite the Ford decision, mentally ill people are
often convicted and sentenced to death, and even
executed. Sometimes this happens without the
jury ever knowing about the person's illness.

We know that some of the people on death
row are mentally retarded because Alabama
courts have granted them relief in the wake of
the Atkins decision. For example, in Borden v.
State,83 the Alabama Court of Criminal
Appeals affirmed re-sentencing Mr. Borden to
life in prison without parole because of his
mental retardation. However, this was a clearcut case of mental retardation in which the
defendant had a full-scale IQ of only 53 and
significant impairment and deficits in adaptive behavior.84

David Hocker was convicted and sentenced
to death for the 1998 stabbing death and robbery of his boss, Jerry W. Robinson, 47, at his
structural steel detailing company. His trial
lasted one day and his lawyer didn't call any
witnesses.87 As a result, jurors never learned
that Hocker had exhibited severe signs of
mental illness, had a history of drug abuse,
and was physically and mentally abused by
his father while growing up. When Hocker
was eight years old, his father committed suicide. Hocker later became suicidal himself,
stating that he looked forward to dying. He
volunteered to be executed. Hocker's sister,
Kim Osborn, stated that Hocker had adopted
a form of Christianity that led him to believe
he would be a leader in the afterlife. As further evidence of his illness, Osborn stated
that her brother had castrated himself while
on death row.88

The concern is that other defendants who do
not have as clear-cut case may have difficulty
proving their claims because of the lack of procedures in place and the lack of legal assistance
to pursue them.
The most prudent course of action would be for
the Legislature to pass legislation establishing
procedures and defining retardation to ensure
that no mentally retarded defendant is sentenced to death or executed and to ensure that
defendants on death row have access to postconviction legal assistance so that someone can
help them raise these claims.

VII. Mental Illness and the Death

The case received a mandatory review by the
Court of Criminal Appeals, but Hocker chose
not to pursue further appeals, so there was
never any determination as to whether or not he
was mentally ill and, therefore, should not have
been executed, nor was there ever any investigation as to whether he received adequate legal
representation, or whether prosecutorial misconduct took place. Hocker did not ask
Governor Bob Riley for clemency.

While precise statistics are not available, it is
estimated that five to 10 percent of people on
death row nationwide have a serious mental illness.85 There are several ways that mental illness can affect capital proceedings. A person
could be mentally ill at the time they committed the crime, which might have contributed to

Broken Justice: The Death Penalty in Alabama
Varnall Weeks was sentenced to death for the
October 1, 1981, killing of college student
Mark Anthony Batts. His inexperienced, courtappointed attorney did not call any witnesses,
nor raise the issue of his client's sanity.89 A
1998 Amnesty International report detailed
important aspects of Weeks' case: "Varnall
Weeks was diagnosed as being severely mentally ill and suffering from pervasive and
bizarre religious delusions. An Alabama state
judge acknowledged that Varnall Weeks suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. The ruling
agreed that he was 'insane' according to 'the
dictionary generic definition of insanity' and
what 'the average person on the street would
regard to be insane,' but decided that his electrocution could proceed because he could
answer a few questions, proving that he was
legally 'competent.'90 Varnall Weeks was executed in May 1995.
The New York Times reported that "Varnall
Weeks, a convicted killer described by psychiatric experts as a paranoid schizophrenic who
believed he would come back to life as a giant
flying tortoise that would rule the world, was
put to death . . . in Alabama's electric chair."91
As the Times editorialized a few days before
the execution, "if Alabama is allowed to take
this sorry life, it will . . . expose just how barbaric and bloodthirsty this nation has become
in its attempt to see justice done."92
Pernell Ford was convicted and sentenced to
death for the murders of two women during a
1983 burglary.93 Questions about Ford's sanity
were first raised during his trial. While acting
as his own defense attorney, he wrapped himself in a sheet during his penalty phase and
demanded his victims be brought into the
courtroom so God could resurrect them. Ford
initially was set for execution in July 1999, but
a federal appeals court delayed his death after
his former attorney questioned his mental state.
At a court hearing, Ford testified he could leave

death row through "translation," and had visited heaven and other spots worldwide while in
prison. He said he had millions of dollars in a
Swiss bank account, which would support his
children and his 400,000 wives after he was
executed and became a part of the Holy
Trinity.94 The court ruled in November, 2000
that Ford was competent to fire attorney
LaJuana Davis and to drop his appeals.
Governor Don Siegelman rejected a clemency
request filed by Davis, who cited Ford's history of mental problems. Ford was executed on
June 1, 2000.

IX. Juveniles and the Death Penalty
On March 1, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court
ruled the juvenile death penalty unconstitutional in Roper v. Simmons,95 concluding that the
execution of offenders who committed crimes
before the age of 18 constitutes cruel and
unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth
Amendment. In the majority opinion, Justice
Anthony Kennedy wrote: "The age of 18 is the
point where society draws the line for many
purposes between childhood and adulthood. It
is, we conclude, the age at which the line for
death eligibility ought to rest."96 He also alluded to growing international concerns regarding
the execution of juveniles, writing: "It is proper that we acknowledge the overwhelming
weight of international opinion against the
juvenile death penalty, resting in large part on
the understanding that the instability and emotional imbalance of young people may often be
a factor in the crime."97
Prior to the Court's ruling, Alabama had the
highest per capita rate of condemned juveniles
in the United States and the country's secondhighest number of juveniles on its death row,
behind Texas.98 Juveniles who had committed
crimes as young as 16 could be sentenced to
death. Fourteen Alabama death row inmates,
all males, were affected by the decision and

A n A C LU R e p o r t
should be resentenced, probably to
life without the possibility of
parole. However, as of September
1, 2005, some of those prisoners
were still on death row.99

X. Race and the Death
Twenty-six out of the 32 people (81
percent) who have been executed in
Alabama during the modern era
were convicted of killing white
people. Although only 6 percent of
all murders in Alabama involve
black defendants and white victims,
over 60 percent of black death row
prisoners have been sentenced for
killing someone white. Each year in
Alabama, nearly 65 percent of all
murders involve black victims.
However, 80 percent of the prisoners currently awaiting execution in
the state were convicted of crimes
in which the victims were white.100
Furthermore, most of the people
holding positions of power with
decision-making authority in the
criminal justice system in Alabama
are white. none of Alabama's 22
appellate court judges are African
American.101 According to Amnesty
International's 2003 report, "Death
by Discrimination," only four percent of the criminal court judges are
African American and none of
Alabama's 40 District Attorneys are
African American.102 According to
prominent death penalty attorney
Bryan Stevenson, there are 128
judges in Alabama who preside over
capital cases, and less than five percent of them are African
American.103 As a result, an observer

Cases Where Race
Played an Improper Role
1. In the case of Timothy Powell, prosecutor Ellen
Brooks used 13 of 16 strikes to eliminate jurors. All
13 were African American. The all-white jury found
Powell guilty and sentenced him to death. When
asked her reasons for dismissing the jurors, Brooks
related that the jurors she removed had been too
young or had traffic violations on their records.108
Later it was discovered that seven of the 12 white
jurors selected to serve on the case had equally
serious traffic violations and many were younger
than the African American jurors who had been
removed.109 Powell's conviction and death sentence
following the trial were reversed.
2. Levi Pace was charged by indictment in a county
where 11 percent of the population was African
American, but in 29 years not a single African
American had served as jury foreperson. Also, the
prosecutor struck a high percentage of African
Americans from the jury pool. Pace was convicted
and sentenced to death by a predominantly white
jury.110 His conviction was later reversed on appeal
and he is currently serving a life sentence.111
3. Gregory Acres was convicted and sentenced to death
after the prosecutor used 11 of his 12 preemptory challenges against African American jurors. When asked
by defense counsel to state on the record his reasons
for striking the jurors he replied, "I strike the jury on
my individual personal belief as to the inclination to
convict or aquit...they were not exercised along racial
lines. The court of appeals did not find this explanation
persuasive and reversed Acres' conviction.112
4. Vernon Madison was convicted by an all white jury
after the prosecutor used preemptory challenges to
remove all seven prospective African American jurors
from the venire. The appellate court reversed his conviction finding that the reasons used by the prosecutor,
which were found legitimate by the trial judge, were
not so. One of the reasons used to strike two of the
jurors was that their "demeanor was inappropriate."113


Broken Justice: The Death Penalty in Alabama
at a capital trial in Alabama is likely to see an
African American defendant, a white judge, a
white prosecutor, a white defense lawyer and a
nearly all-white jury.104

Three of these people have already been executed, while three remain on death row. In two
of the six cases, the jury recommended life
without parole, but the judge overrode that recommendation.

A. Batson violations

XI. Conclusions and Recommendations
Prosecutors in capital cases sometimes exclude
potential jurors to prevent participation of
minorities on juries. This practice is especially
noticeable when defendants are African
American and victims are white.105 It has historically been difficult for a defendant to challenge a
prosecutor's decision to exclude African
American jurors during the selection process
because the prosecutor only has to articulate a
reasonable, non-race-based argument for the dismissal. For example, a prosecutor in Alabama
gave as his reason for striking several potential
African American jurors the fact that they were
affiliated with Alabama State University — a
predominantly African American institution.
This was considered a race-neutral reason by the
reviewing court.106 However, a June 2005 U.S.
Supreme Court case reversed a death sentence on
the grounds that the prosecutor who had claimed
to have a race-neutral reason for excluding jurors
was really acting on pretext.107 Hopefully this
case will help assure that jury composition is
diverse. See section V above for additional examples of cases involving Batson violations.
B. Triggerman issues
Alabama is one of the few states that allow the
death penalty to be given to a defendant who
did not actually "pull the trigger" in the alleged
murder.114 During the modern era, six persons
who were not the triggerman received the death
penalty in Alabama. Five of the six defendants
were African American; of the eight victims,
seven were white. In the one anomalous case,
white supremacist Henry Hays was executed
for the death of Michael Donald, an African
American man.115

The people of Alabama want a criminal justice
system that is fair and effective. We remain
skeptical that the unfairness that has plagued
the death penalty in Alabama and other death
penalty states for so long can ever be completely eliminated. But as long as the death
penalty remains public policy, basic decency
requires all citizens of good will to try.
We urge the Alabama Legislature, the courts
and the Governor to consider the following
1. Impose a moratorium — a temporary
freeze — on all executions in Alabama, at
least until the recommendations of this
report are in effect. During the moratorium,
the State should undertake an exhaustive
study of the death penalty in Alabama. It
should be conducted by an independent
commission appointed by the Legislature,
with members from the legislative, executive and judicial branches, in addition to
criminal justice experts. Defense attorneys,
prosecutors, members of non-governmental
organizations, and family members of murder victims and of people on death row
should also take part in this study.
2. Establish a statewide public defender system insuring that all defendants are represented by qualified attorneys at trial, appeal
and post-conviction proceedings.
3. Improve the quality of capital representation. Whether or not the Legislature decides
to create a public defender system, imme22

A n A C LU R e p o r t
diate steps should be
taken to improve the
quality of representation
requiring all attorneys to take part in
and have relevant
experience in capital

Impose a moratorium — a temporary freeze —
on all executions in Alabama, at least until the
recommendations of this report are in effect.
During the moratorium, the State should
undertake an exhaustive study of the death
penalty in Alabama.
inmates whose execution dates are
approaching. The Legislature should
revisit the mental retardation issue next
session and pass legislation defining
mental retardation and establishing procedures for defendants to raise the issue

4. Institute meaningful checks on prosecutorial power, including "open-file" discovery
to the defense in death penalty cases to
lessen the likelihood of innocent people
being convicted. Prosecutors' offices
should develop effective systems for gathering all relevant information from law
enforcement and investigative agencies.
Prosecutors should establish internal guidelines on seeking the death penalty in cases
that are built exclusively on evidence subject to human error such as: eyewitness
identification by strangers and informant
testimony. Prosecutors who violate the law
should be sanctioned.

7. Establish post-conviction DNA testing
procedures, including protocols to ensure
that evidence is preserved until the person is executed.
8. Abolish judicial override in capital cases.
9. Strictly enforce the rule prohibiting the
discriminatory use of peremptory challenges in striking jurors.

5. The Alabama Court System should begin
keeping statistics on every potential capital
case in Alabama, including information
about such factors as the race of the defendant, race of the victim, county where the
case was brought, racial composition of the
jury, and the names of prosecutors and
defense attorneys. Having this information
easily accessible will enable authorities to
review whether death penalty prosecutions
are taking place in a fair and non-discriminatory manner.

10. The judiciary and the Attorney General
should expand recruitment, retention and
promotion of minority personnel to create a
more diverse group of judges and prosecutors. Judges should make efforts to appoint
people of color to represent indigent defendants in court-appointed cases.
11. Institute meaningful proportionality
review to ensure that death sentences are
meted out in a fair, rational and non-discriminatory fashion.

6. Establish a process for reviewing claims
of mental retardation by death row


Broken Justice: The Death Penalty in Alabama


Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972).


Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153 (1976).

The numbers of executions change weekly. For purposes of this report, numbers cited will be as of August 31, 2005, unless
otherwise stated.


Death Penalty Information Center at:

The Alabama Civil Liberties Union and the Alabama Prison Project analyzed all 275 Alabama cases where people have been
sentenced to death during the modern era and compiled a database, hereinafter referred to as the Database.

See Death Penalty Information Center at: and Note, these calculation were completed in August 2004 and the end of 1999



Leonard Post, "On Their Own," THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL, December 1, 2003.




Ala. Code section 13-11-3 (1975).


Ala. Code section 13-11-2 (a)(1) - (14) (1975).


"Take a Breather on the Death Penalty," THE BIRMINGHAM NEWS, August 2, 2005.

Sara Rimer, "In Alabama, a Neglected Defense System Skews Death Row Justice," THE NEW YORK TIMES, March 1,

"Harmful Error: Investigating America's Local Prosecutors," Center for Public Integrity, available at:


Atkins v. Virginia, 528 U.S. 304 (2002).


NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, "Death Row U.S.A.,” Spring 2005, at 31.


The Equal Justice Initiative Legal Quarterly, Fall 2004, vol. 8, no. 3. at VIII-30.

NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, "Death Row U.S.A.," Spring 2005, at 11. (This report updates their statistics,
which did not include the last two executions.)

The overall number of death penalty cases is taken from the time period 1976-2005. We were unable to find any data showing
population changes during this 30-year period or data calculating total number of murders during the last 30 years. For those
numbers, we used the most recent census data available, which was for 2002, and the number of murders during that year. This
means that we are comparing a number obtained over 30 years with a number from a single year. This comparison would be
less valid if the number of murders during 2002 was an aberration rather than a typical representation. While we realize this calculation is not perfect, it is useful for purposes of seeing which jurisdictions are bringing the most death penalty cases. We
encourage Alabama court officials to start keeping statistics on the total number of murders each year by county as one piece of
information necessary to ascertain whether the death penalty is being imposed in a geographically disparate manner. We
obtained the population and murder data from the University of Virginia's comprehensive database, which lets users access the
FBI uniform crime reports. See


Equal Justice Initiative, September 2000 available at:


Ala. R. Crim. P. 32.7(c).

American Bar Association, "American Bar Association Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel
in Death Penalty Cases," 31 HOFSTRA L. REV. 913, 961-962, Summer 2003.


This action was confirmed in a phone conversation with a spokesperson for the Judge's Association. However, we were unable
to find any supporting documentation.

Virginia 19.2-163.8(E) - Standards for Counsel in Capital Cases.


North Carolina Standards for Lead and Associate Trial Counsel in Capital Cases.


See note 13.


Ala. Code 1975 § 15-12-23(d) (2003).


See note 17.


Ala. R. Crim. P. 32.


A n A C LU R e p o r t

Ala. R. Crim. P. 32.2(c)(1).


Ala. R. Crim. P. 32.6(b).


Ala. R. Crim. P. 32.2(c).


Ala. R. Crim. P. 32.1(e)(5).


See note 17.

Id. The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) limits federal courts to granting relief only where the statecourt adjudication resulted in a decision that (1) "was contrary to clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme
Court of the United States," or (2) "involved an unreasonable application of clearly established Federal law, as determined by
the Supreme Court of the United States." 28 U.S.C.A. sec. 2254 (d)(1). See Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362 (2000).


Tarver v. State, 769 So.2d 338, 340-341 (Ala. Crim. App. 2000).

"Innocence: Freed from Death Row," Death Penalty Information Center available at

Sheryl Marsh, "Judge's decision sets Moore free: Conduct of prosecutor, officer cited,"


See note 37.


Quick v. State, 825 So. 2d 246 (2001).


Description taken from Death Penalty Information Center at:

This account was taken largely from case synopses prepared by Rob Warden at the Center for Wrongful Convictions at
Northwestern University available at: and the report
"Reasonable Doubts: Is the U.S. Executing Innocent People?" prepared by Equal Justice U.S.A. available at:


Beck v. Alabama, 447 U.S. 625 (1980).


Hooper v. Evans, 456 U.S. 605 (1982).


Baldwin v. State, 456 So.2d 117 (1983).


Baldwin v. State, 539 So.2d 1103 (1988) cert. denied Baldwin v. Alabama, 493 U.S. 874 (1989).

This synopsis was taken primarily from the Equal Justice U.S.A. report mentioned in note 42 and "The Judge as Lynch Mob,"
by Ken Silverstein published on May 7, 2001 in The American Prospect. Available at: This case was also listed on Northwestern University's Center for Wrongful Executions website as an example
of a case where an innocent person may have been executed. See


Singleton v. State, 465 So. 2d 432 (Ala. Crim. App. 1984).


This synopsis was created using information from Amnesty International, available at: and the Equal Justice U.S. A. report mentioned
in note 42.


Wright v. Hopper, 169 F.3d 695 (11th Cir. 1999).


Ex parte Wright, 766 So.2d 215 (Ala. 2000).

Peter Neufeld, "Forensic Technology," testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, July 17, 2003, available at


Public Law 108-405, October 30, 2005.

See The Innocence Project website for a state list of post-conviction DNA testing laws at:


See Kansas report, "Costs Incurred for Death Penalty Cases: A K-goal Audit of the Department of Corrections," December
2003. See also "The High Cost of Killing Killers: Death Penalty Prosecutors Cost Taxpayers Millions Annually," THE PALM
BEACH POST, January 4, 2000, and Philip J. Cook, "The Cost of Processing Murder Cases in North Carolina," May 1993. For
two extensive discussions of costs in capital cases go to: and DPIC


Associated Press, "Courts Take Aim At Jury Costs to Save on Budget." November 30, 2003.


Todd Kleffman, "Capital Cases Clutter Courts," MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER, February 9, 2003.


Broken Justice: The Death Penalty in Alabama
Barry Latzer and James N. G. Cauthen , "Capital Appeals Revisited," JUDICATURE, vol 84, no 2 September-October 2000.
Available at


Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986).


Villanova Law School -


We were not able to ascertain in some cases whether overrides had occurred or not.


See note 14.


Id. available at:


Jefferson v. State, 645 So. 2d 313 (Ala. Crim. App. 1994).


Powell v. State, 548 So.2d 590, 594 (Ala. Cr. App. 1988).

See note 14. Reversals due to prosecutorial misconduct are unusual because the court requires a very high standard for a
defendant to meet. Appellate judges reverse only if they are convinced that the error made a difference in the outcome of the
case. Courts do not reverse cases involving errors that might have affected the outcome of the case.


Martin v. State, 839 So.2d 665, 681 (Ala. Crim. App. 2001).


See note 14 at:


Tomlin v. State, 591 So.2d 550 (Ala. Crim. App. 1991).


Ex parte Tomlin, 2003 WL 22272851 (Ala. 2003).

Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002). In this landmark case, the Court ruled that a person's Sixth Amendment right to a jury
trial guaranteed that any aggravating factors in death penalty cases must be ruled upon by a jury, not a judge. This decision
struck down sentencing schemes in approximately a dozen states that allowed judges, instead of juries, to determine sentences
in death penalty cases. This decision did not directly address the override issue, because in override cases the jury has decided
whether aggravating factors exist, but the judge has decided to substitute his judgment about what weight those factors should
be given.


Ken Silverstein, “The Judge as Lynch Mob,” THE AMERICAN PROSPECT, Vol. 12, issue 8, May 7, 2001.

Database. Note: we were not able to identify in every case whether an override had occurred, so there may have been more
than what we have indicated. Also, in one case where an override occurred, we could not identify the race of the defendant.
According to Amnesty International, Alabama judges have used overrides to sentence to death more than 70 defendants for
whom the jury had recommended a life prison term "United States of America - Death by Discrimination: the continuing role of
race in capital cases," (2003) available at:


Harris v. Alabama, 513 U.S. 504 (1995).


Id. at 526.


See note 73.


Atkins v. Virginia, 528 U.S. 304 (2002).




See Death Penalty Information Center at:


Morrow v. State, ___ So. 2d ___ (Ala. Crim. App. 2004). WL 1909275.




Borden v. State, Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, No. CC-93-228.60, January 7, 2005.

A more borderline case is that of James Donald Yeomans, who was sentenced to death for the murder of his wife and her parents on Nov. 22, 1999. The jury recommended death by a vote of 11-1. The defense presented evidence that Yeomans had had a
terrible childhood with abusive parenting. He had attended special education classes throughout his schooling. He had tested in
the borderline range for intelligence on IQ tests. The standardized IQ tests that Yeomans had taken placed his IQ at 76 and 78.
Many experts oppose using a raw IQ score as a determination of retardation. IQ tests vary greatly and even when administered
properly there is still a six-point margin of error. However, seventy is often considered the cut-off point for mental retardation.
Yeomans v. State, 898 So. 2d 878 (Ala. Crim. App. 2004).


"The Death Penalty and People with Mental Illness," National Mental Health Association, February 6, 2004.


Ford v. Wainwright, 477 U.S. 399 (1986).


Hocker v. State, 840 So. 2d 197 (Ala. Crim. App. 2002).

Carla Crowder, "Faced with Son's Execution, Mother Has Only Sad Keepsakes," Associated Press, September 29, 2004.
Available at:


Weeks v. State, 456 So. 2d 395 (Ala. Crim. App. 1983).


A n A C LU R e p o r t
Kate Randall, "The death penalty in the US: a rising toll of state executions. Part 5 in a series of articles on Amnesty
International's report on human rights abuses in the US,"November 19, 1998. Available at:


Rick Bragg, "A Killer Racked by Delusions Dies in Alabama's Electric Chair," NY TIMES, May 13, 1995, at A7.




Ford v. State, 515 So. 2d 34 (Ala. Crim. App. 1986).

Canadian Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty website available at: These facts were
verified by multiple new services, reports available at:


Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. ___ (2005).





"Facts and Figures," Juvenile Justice Center, American Bar Association," available at:


See Alabama Department of Corrections Website at:


Equal Justice Initiative website available at:


See Alabama Judicial System's Website at:

"United States of America - Death by Discrimination - the continuing role of race in capital cases," Amnesty International,
2003, available at:

Beyond the News, "The Role of Race and the Death Penalty," a conversation with Bryan Stevenson available at:



Stephen Bright, “Capital Punishment on the 25th Anniversary of Furman v. Georgia,” Southern Center for Human Rights,
(1997), available at:

B. Stevenson and R. Friedman, "Deliberate Indifference: Judicial Tolerance of Racial Bias in Criminal Justice," 51 WASH. &
LEE L. REV. 509, 522 (1994).


Miller-El v. Dretke, 545 U.S. ____ (2005).


See note 14.




Pace v. State, 714 So.2d 320 (Ala. Crim. App. 1996).




Acres v. State, 548 So. 2d 459 (Ala. Crim. App. 1988).


Madison v. State, 545 So. 2d 94 (Ala. 1987).


Ala. Code 13A-5-40 (c) (1975) and Ala. Code 2-23 (1975).




Broken Justice: The Death Penalty in Alabama