Intellectual Disability, IQ Scores, and the Death Penalty

Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court decided Hall v. Florida, a case about the death penalty and intellectual disability. It’s an important case with implications for North Carolina. Background. In Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002), the Court prohibited the imposition of the death penalty on mentally retarded defendants. The Court indicated that it … Read more

RJA Oral Argument

The state supreme court heard oral argument yesterday in two cases concerning the Racial Justice Act. In the first case, Superior Court Judge Gregory Weeks struck down the death sentence imposed on Marcus Robinson under the RJA as enacted in 2009. In the second, Judge Weeks vacated the death sentences imposed on Quintel Augustine, Christina … Read more

New Edition of the Capital Case Law Handbook Now Available

Although the number of capitally-tried cases has declined in recent years, capital cases remain important, complex, and hotly contested. So I’m happy to announce that a new edition of the North Carolina Capital Case Law Handbook is now available. I’m the author, though the new edition is built upon the sturdy foundation of the previous … Read more


The Racial Justice Act — Issues on the Horizon

Jeff previously posted news items about North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act (RJA), including one here updating readers on the bill’s path to law, and one here about actual RJA filings. I was recently told by the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts that there now are at least 204 filed RJA motions. Although most of … Read more

Forcible Medication and the Death Penalty

Editor’s note: Tom Tynan is an alumnus of Duke University Law School, a recent federal judicial clerk, and a soon-to-be associate at a large law firm. He spent several months at the School of Government recently, helping me prepare to update the Capital Case Law Handbook. We’ll miss him. by School of Government law fellow … Read more

News Roundup

Several recent news stories may be of interest to readers of this blog: 1. Sotomayor scuttlebutt: Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings are scheduled to begin next week. There’s no reason to doubt that she’ll be confirmed, and the ABA just rated her “highly qualified,” all of which makes one wonder about the value of the Congressional … Read more

News Roundup

North Carolina has been all over the web recently. The News and Observer’s habitual felon article, which I discussed in a previous post, has made a splash on several of the most-read criminal law blogs — here and here (both links involve some scrolling) — with some of the reaction being positive, and some less … Read more

Executions to Resume?

Several developments this week week have brought North Carolina much closer to resuming executions. The last execution in the state took place in August 2006.  Since then, we’ve had a de facto moratorium, because of three related pieces of litigation. First, defense lawyers argued that lethal injection was a cruel and unusual method of execution. … Read more

News Roundup

Several stories of interest to readers of this blog have appeared over the last several days.  First, the Winston-Salem Journal, in an editorial available here, is asking the General Assembly to take a close look at the death penalty, and to impose a moratorium while it does so.  Of course, as the editorial notes, we … Read more