Allen Chair Issue 2015: Lethal Injection, Politics, and the Future of the Death Penalty

The University of Richmond Law Review had a very successful Allen Chair Symposium this academic year, titled, “Lethal Injection, Politics, and the Future of the Death Penalty.” The Symposium featured a keynote address from Professor Stephen B. Bright, President and Senior Counsel for the Southern Center for Human Rights and professor at the Yale School of Law, as well as incredible panels comprised of nationally renowned death penalty scholars, practitioners, doctors, politicians, and journalists. Through the subsequent months of hard work, the Law Review proudly presents the corresponding Allen Chair Issue. This, Volume 49’s third issue, is sure to be a great source for all things related to this controversial and important topic. We encourage all to read these articles and allow them to shed some unique light on the issue of the death penalty in American society and jurisprudence.

Professor Stephen Bright was our keynote speaker at the Allen Chair Symposium. His thought-provoking piece, largely developed from his address, is titled, “The Role of Race, Poverty, Intellectual Disability, and Mental Illness in the Decline of the Death Penalty.” Its citation is 49 U. Rich. L. Rev. 671 (2015), and is available at http://lawreview.richmond.edu/files/2015/04/Bright-493.pdf

Students Sheherezade Malik (Executive Editor, Volume 49) and Paul Holdsworth (Editor-in-Chief, Volume 49) then lay a foundation for the rest of the pieces of the Allen Chair Issue with “A Survey of the History of the Death Penalty in the United States.” This contribution’s citation is 49 U. Rich. L. Rev. 693 (2015), and is available at http://lawreview.richmond.edu/files/2015/04/History-493.pdf

THE DEATH PENALTY AND LETHAL INJECTION

Doctor Joel Zivot of the Emory School of Medicine & Emory University Hospital provides an unprecedented analysis of lethal injection from the medical perspective. His contributions to the panel were incredibly insightful, and this piece is sure to be a “game-changer” in legal academia as well. His contribution is titled, “Lethal Injection: States Medicalize Execution.” Its citation is 49 U. Rich. L. Rev. 711 (2015), and is available at http://lawreview.richmond.edu/files/2015/04/Zivot-493.pdf

Professor Eric Berger then offers a compelling reflection on states’ execution procedures and their possible constitutional implications titled, “The Executioners’ Dilemmas.” Its citation is 49 U. Rich. L. Rev. 731 (2015), and it is available at http://lawreview.richmond.edu/files/2015/04/Berger-493.pdf

Distinguished Richmond journalist Frank Green sheds his expertise and reflections on having covered Virginia executions since 1982. His contribution is titled, “Witnessing Executions.” Its citation is 49 U. Rich. L. Rev. 763 (2015), and is available at http://lawreview.richmond.edu/files/2015/04/Green-493.pdf

Second-year law student, and Editor-in-Chief-elect, Thomas DiStanislao offers a compelling proposal for Virginia to return to the firing squad in lieu of the recent complications with lethal injection. His comment is titled, “A Shot in the Dark: Why Virginia Should Adopt the Firing Squad as Its Primary Method of Execution.” Its citation is 49 U. Rich. L. Rev. 779 (2015), and is available at http://lawreview.richmond.edu/files/2015/04/DiStanislao-493.pdf

THE SHIFTING POLITICS OF THE DEATH PENALTY

Former Attorney General Mark Earley shifts the Issue’s focus to political and policy analysis. His contribution, titled, “A Pink Cadillac, An IQ of 63, and a Fourteen-Year-Old From South Carolina: Why I Can No Longer Support the Death Penalty” is an interesting reflection about how Mr. Earley’s views and opinions of the death penalty have evolved throughout and following his political career. It can be cited at 49 U. Rich. L. Rev. 811 (2015) and is available at http://lawreview.richmond.edu/files/2015/04/Earley-493.pdf

Professor Corinna Lain, without whose generosity and ideas the Allen Chair Symposium and Issue would not have been possible, offers a piece that highlights and analyzes 2014’s string of botched executions, and their various legal and societal implications. Her contribution is titled, “The Politics of Botched Executions.” The piece’s citation is 49 U. Rich. L. Rev. 825 (2015), and is available at http://lawreview.richmond.edu/files/2015/04/Lain-493.pdf

Following Professor Lain’s piece, Notre Dame law professor Stephen Smith, urges caution in declaring that the demise of the death penalty has been realized. While many recent developments have certainly called into question the future of America’s death penalty, there is much more to do. Professor Smith’s piece is titled, “Has the ‘Machinery of Death’ Become a Clunker?” Its citation is 49 U. Rich. L. Rev. 845 (2015), and is available at http://lawreview.richmond.edu/files/2015/04/Smith-493.pdf

THE FUTURE OF THE DEATH PENALTY

Richmond Law’s esteemed professor and former Dean, John G. Douglass, shifts the Issue’s focus to the future of the death penalty. Professor Douglass’ contribution tackles the issue of plea bargaining in Virginia death penalty cases. His essay is titled, “Death As a Bargaining Chip: Plea Bargaining and the Future of Virginia’s Death Penalty.” It can be cited at 49 U. Rich. L. Rev. 873 (2015), and is available at http://lawreview.richmond.edu/files/2015/04/Douglass-493.pdf

Professor Brandon Garrett, from the University of Virginia School of Law, then offers his contribution by analyzing interrogation policies in the Commonwealth of Virginia and proposing that such policies are in need of a major overhaul. Professor Garret’s piece, “Interrogation Policies” can be cited at 49 U. Rich. L. Rev. 895 (2015), and is available at http://lawreview.richmond.edu/files/2015/04/Garrett-493.pdf

Next, Richard Dieter, the Executive Director of the Death Penalty Information Center, discusses the trajectory of the death penalty in the United States. His piece, appropriately titled, “The Future of the Death Penalty in the United States” can be cited at 49 U. Rich. L. Rev. 921 (2015), and is available at http://lawreview.richmond.edu/files/2015/04/Dieter-493.pdf

Professor Mary Tate, the Director of the University of Richmond School of Law’s Institute for Actual Innocence, reflects on the inherent arbitrariness of doctrinal developments, public policy, and societal mood in death penalty outcomes. Professor Tate does so through reexamining the case of Tommy David Strickler, an indigent Virginia man executed in 1999. Her piece is titled, “Temporal Abritrariness: A Back to the Future Look at a Twenty-Five-Year-Old Death Penalty Trial.” Its citation is 49 U. Rich. L. Rev.  939 (2015), and is available at http://lawreview.richmond.edu/files/2015/04/Tate-493.pdf

Student Ann Reid, the Law Review’s Lead Articles Editor-elect, rounds out the Allen Chair 2015 Issue with an innovative proposal of narrowing capital eligibility in the aftermath of 2014’s botched execution and the controversial atmosphere surrounding death penalty sentiment. Her comment, “Making Sure We Are Getting It Right: Repairing ‘The Machinery of Death’ by Narrowing Capital Eligibility” can be cited at 49 U. Rich. L. Rev. 967 (2015). It is available at http://lawreview.richmond.edu/files/2015/04/Reid-493.pdf

POSTSCRIPT

In a unique postscript, Leah Stiegler, the Allen Chair Editor for Volume 49, interviewed an inmate on death row in California. This brief exchange serves to provides readers with a glimpse into one death row inmate’s views on the death penalty, lethal injection, and the criminal justice system. It is available at http://lawreview.richmond.edu/files/2015/04/Cruz-Update.pdf

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Please also read the Acknowledgments from Leah Stiegler, the Allen Chair Editor: http://lawreview.richmond.edu/files/2015/04/Ack.pdf