A bit after 4 o'clock this morning, after many hours of debate and legislative maneuvering, the Connecticut Senate voted 19-17 to repeal the state's death penalty law. The House voted repeal on a 90-56 vote last week. The bill now goes to the governor, a supporter of the death penalty who has indicated but not directely said that he'll veto the law. In neither house was the margin broad enough to override a veto. (Stories here and here.)
Meanwhile, 27 former judges and prosecutors including former Deputy U.S. Attorney General Larry Thompson, former Georgia Supreme Court chief justice Norman Fletcher, and nine former U.S. attorneys (among them, former Congressman Bob Barr and former FBI Director William Sessions) filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Troy Davis on death row in Georgia. They urge the Court to grant Davis's request that the federal district court should hold a hearing on his claim of actual innocence based on recanting witnesses and others who have heard a confession from someone other than Davis. (Story here.) The Court has never clearly said whether a free-standing claim of actual innocence, not supported by a separate constitutional violation, is a sufficient reason to grant habeas corpus relief.
And here in the Buckeye State, Daniel Wilson is set to be executed on June 3. Except that the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the sole death specification in his case. That means he's to be executed even though he has been unconvicted of a capital crime. Yesterday, the Ohio Supreme Court ordered the Lorain County Prosecutor to respond by May 27 to a claim that the Sixth Circuit's ruling is a new fact entitling Wilson to pursue post-conviction remedies regarding whether he's still eligible to be executed. (Wilson's Memorandum in Support of Jurisdiction is here.) Wilson is separately pursuing a direct appeal in the Ohio Supreme Court on the question of whether the trial court can vacate his as void because he could not properly have been sentenced to death. (Memorandum in Support of Jurisdiction on the direct appeal is here.)
Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell says she will veto the abolition bill, ``as soon as it hits my desk.''