Federal Judge Critiques Delaware’s Execution of Shannon Johnson

U.S. District Judge (former Chief Judge) Gregory M. Sleet considers whether Delaware’s Execution of Shannon Johnson in April 2012 was a subversion of due process and the adversary system. The Conclusion of his article in the Summer 2015 issue of the ABA Criminal Justice Section’s magazine, Criminal Justice is:

“Johnson’s case—a case that proceeded with notable and unnecessary haste from the time of his competency hearing to his execution—highlights profound failings in our judicial process. As a federal judge tasked with ensuring that individuals and entities that move through our judicial system are guaranteed a process consistent with the dictates of constitutional due process, I believe that the district court was prohibited from doing so in this case and that the process afforded Johnson fell far short of this guarantee. While Johnson may have, in fact, been competent to waive his appellate rights and expedite his own execution, I believe now, as I did then, that it is critical that the process resulting in an execution may be “judged in hindsight as having complied with the requirements of constitutional due process, as well as appear to the general public, which has a great interest in the issue, to have done so.” It is my sincere hope that this case and the subsequent examination of it will promote the changes necessary to ensure we can do so in the future.”

To read the full article, click on ABA Criminal Justice Summer 2015 issue and go to page 9.

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