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Death Penalty

Death-Row Inmates Look to Kennedy

Posted Jun 7, 2007 10:53 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The U.S. Supreme Court has issued eight decisions in death penalty cases this term, ruling against inmates in half.

The liberal wing of the court sided with inmates in all eight cases, Associated Press reports. The swing vote is Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.

"In the late '80s and early '90s, you were a rare defendant who won a death penalty case at the Supreme Court," Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, told AP reporter Mark Sherman. "Now there's a fair chance that if you can get Justice Kennedy, you'll win."

Four years ago Kennedy wrote the decision barring the execution of juveniles, saying a national consensus disapproved of the punishment.

Several cases before the high court concern the quality of defense lawyers in capital cases. The court has also differed with Texas courts on the fair application of the death penalty, overturning three Texas death sentences this term.

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