U.S. Judge: Legal System Unreliable In Death-Penalty Cases


Misdeeds and mistakes in a Kentucky death penalty case show the legal system is unreliable for deciding if an inmate should be executed, a federal appeals court judge said yesterday, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports. Judge Boyce Martin Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit said multiple problems in the case of Gregory Wilson led to a defense that was a “charade,” a “kangaroo court” and created “a risk of bias” against Wilson.

“Until we reform this broken system, we cannot rely on it to determine life and death,” wrote Martin, who cited a Courier-Journal story describing a host of problems surrounding Wilson's trial. Martin’s comments came in a dissent from a decision by the appellate not to reconsider a case Wilson filed challenging the practice of giving a sedative to an inmate before execution. Wilson had been scheduled to die by lethal injection on Sept. 16 for the 1987 kidnapping, rape and murder of a Kentucky woman. A state judge in Kentucky halted all executions in September, expressing concerns about how the state method of carrying out a death sentence.

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