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DOJ issues guidelines re: post-sentencing requests for deauthorization - Jan. 23, 2017   
As of January 2017, the United States Attorneys' Manual has been amended to reflect that requests to deauthorize a federal capital case may be made after the defendant has already been convicted and sentenced to death. Revised section 9-10.160 ("Withdrawal of the Notice of Intention to Seek the Death Penalty") includes a new subsection ("C. Requests for relief following conviction and sentence") that details the procedure for requesting such relief, as well as the various levels of review that such a request must undergo within DOJ before being authorized. The relevant section of the U.S. Attorney's Manual is available here.)

En banc court reverses and remands in Webster v. Daniels - May 1, 2015   
On May 1, 2015, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, reversed and remanded Bruce Webster’s case finding that his 28 USC § 2241 petition raising an Atkins claim was not an impermissible successive pleading. The Court held there is no categorical bar in section 2241 where new evidence shows that a certain penalty is categorically prohibited by the Constitution. Because the evidence Mr. Webster sought to present predated the trial but was not discovered despite the defense’s diligence, his case was entitled to be heard under section 2241.(The opinion can be read here.)

DOJ issues report on top management and performance challenges facing the Department - Nov. 10, 2014   
On November 10, 2014, the Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued its annual list of "Top Management and Performance Challenges Facing the Department of Justice." A number of points in the report may be of interest to capital 2255 teams, including issues pertaining to conditions in BOP facilities, law enforcement accountability, and recommended reforms of DOJ's attorney misconduct review process. The full report can be read here. (Click here for additional discussion about the report.)

District Court orders new trial for Donald Fell (U.S. v. Fell, D. Vt.) - July 24, 2014   

On July 24, 2014, a district court in the District of Vermont ordered a new trial for Donald Fell based on juror misconduct uncovered in capital 2255 proceedings in United States v. Fell. The opinion can be read here. (Click here for additional discussion about the case.)

Supreme Court Rejects Strict IQ Cutoff for Evaluation of Intellectual Disability in Capital Cases - May 27, 2014   
On May 27, 2014, in Hall v. Florida (12-10882), the United States Supreme Court clarified the standards by which courts should consider whether capital defendants are intellectually disabled (mentally retarded) and therefore ineligible for the death penalty. The Court’s holding struck down Florida’s rigid rule declaring that any person with an IQ score above 70 could not be intellectually disabled as being in violation of its 2002 decision in Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002), declaring that the Eighth Amendment prohibits capital punishment for the mentally retarded. The opinion can be read here. (Click here for additional discussion about the case.)

Court affirms denial of relief (U.S. v. Purkey, 8th Cir.) - Sep. 6, 2013   
On September 6, 2013, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the denial of § 2255 relief in the case of Wesley Ira Purkey v. United States. The court's opinion can be read here.

Denial of relief affirmed in three 2255s in last 30 days - August 7, 2013   

Three different circuit courts affirmed the denial of relief in 2255 cases in the last 30 days. On July 10, 2013, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed Meier Brown v. United States; on July 31, 2013, the Eighth Circuit affirmed Norris Holder v. United States; and on August 5, 2013, the Fifth Circuit affirmed Alfred Bourgeois v. United States. Please click on the hyperlinked case names to view the opinions.


Court affirms grant of sentencing relief (US v. Sampson, 1st Cir.) - July 25, 2013   

On July 25, 2013, the First Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of penalty phase relief based on juror misconduct in the capital 2255 case of United States v. Sampson. The court's opinion can be read here. (Click here for additional discussion about the case.)

Court resentences Darryl Johnson to life (N.D. Ill.) - April 9, 2013   

On April 9, 2013, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois formally resentenced Darryl Johnson to life without possibility of release. (Click the arrow above for additional discussion about the case.)

Court grants relief on Brady claim (David Jackson v. U.S., E.D. Tex.) - Mar. 25, 2013   
On March 25, 2013, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas granted relief in the capital § 2255 case of David Lee Jackson v. United States, after the government confessed error on a sentencing-phase Brady claim. (Click the arrow above for additional discussion about the case.)

Federal Death Row -- Current Population by State

1st Circuit: 2 7th Circuit: 2
Hover over the state to display
the state's federal death row count.
2nd Circuit: 1 8th Circuit: 12
3rd Circuit: 1 9th Circuit: 4
4th Circuit: 15 10th Circuit: 2
5th Circuit: 13 11th Circuit: 5
6th Circuit: 3 D.C. Circuit: 0