Race, Ethnicity, and Crime: Alternate Perspectives

By Dianne Williams | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4. RACE AND THE DEATH PENALTY

OBJECTIVES
To evaluate the impact of race on prosecutorial decisions to seek the death penalty
To evaluate the impact of the quality of legal representation on the disposition of a death eligible case.

CASE STUDY: SIGNIFICANT DEATH PENALTY CASES

Many citizens consider it insensitive and unseemly, if not
immoral, for a country, with our historical record on slavery
and race discrimination, to persist in using a punishment that
is administered and controlled almost exclusively by whites
and serves no demonstrated function, but has a profound ad-
verse impact, physically, psychologically, and symbolically on
its black citizens.

—Prof. David C. Baldus, Professor of Law, College of Law,
University of Iowa, and George Woodward, in: “America’s Ex-
periment with Capital Punishment”, J.R. Acker, CAP, 1998.

Defendant Jack House was represented by attorneys who had never read the State’s death penalty statute. The lawyers did not visit the crime scene nor did they interview the state’s witness. Moreover, counsel did not conduct discovery of the State’s evidence and barely spoke with their client. During the testimony of a key prosecution witness, one of the members of the defense team left the court room,

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