On December 15th, the Delaware Supreme Court vacated the death sentence of Derrick Powell. Mr. Powell will now have a sentence of life without parole. The decision will apply to the other 11 men on death row, who will also have their death sentences changed to life without parole.
Delaware Citizens Opposed to the Death Penalty
2016 Annual Meeting
Join us for a short business meeting followed by a presentation:
Capital Punishment in Delaware: Reviewing Past Legislation and Creating a Path Forward
DCODP will present awards to former Senator Karen Peterson, Senator Gary Simpson, and Representative Sean Lynn
Karen Peterson retired from the Senate on October 31st, 2016, after fourteen years of service. She has received numerous awards during her forty-two years of government service for her work on open government, criminal justice, child protection, and animal welfare. She was the primary sponsor of legislation to repeal Delaware’s death penalty. She ably shepherded death penalty repeal bills Senate Bill 19 in 2013 and Senate Bill 40 in 2015 to success in the state Senate.
Monday, November 14th, 2016
7:00 Business Meeting
Kirkwood Library, 6000 Kirkwood Hwy, Wilmington, DE 19808
The annual meeting is free and open to the public.
Refreshments will be provided.
Delaware Citizens Opposed to the Death Penalty is a restorative justice project of Pacem in Terris. For more information, call 302-379-0488 or visit www.enddeathpenaltyde.org.
On Tuesday, 8/2/16, the Delaware Supreme Court issued their decision that Delaware’s death penalty statute is unconstitutional. Chief Justice Leo Strine, writing the majority opinion stated, “I join with a majority of my colleagues in concluding that Delaware‘s current death penalty statute conflicts with the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution.” The 6th amendment to the US Constitution says you are entitled to a fair jury. The interpretation by the US Supreme Court last Spring in Florida’s Hurst decision, and now by the Delaware Supreme Court, is that a jury, not a judge, must make the final determination in deciding who receives a death sentence.
To read the full decision, click: Rauf v State of DE Decision 080216
To read the News Journal article, click: Delaware’s Death Penalty Law Unconstitutional
Thanks belong to so many people who worked so hard toward this victory. Thanks to Chief Justice Leo Strine and the other Justices who so carefully considered the difficult questions related to the jury’s role in sentencing capital cases. Thank you to the sponsors of recent bills to repeal Delaware’s death penalty, Rep. Sean Lynn, Sen. Karen Peterson, and Rep. Darryl Scott. Thank you to Kathleen MacRae at the ACLU for transforming the landscape of death penalty repeal work. Thank you to the Delaware Repeal Project leadership, Jeremy Collins, Mona Cadena, Rev. Donald Morton, Rachel Livingston, and Sherry Dorsey-Walker. Thank to all the Delaware Repeal Project partners. Thank you to the DCODP leadership whose members have been working to end the death penalty since 1992 when Delaware’s death penalty was reinstated. Sally Milbury-Steen, Connie Kreshtool, John Beer, Kevin O’Connell, Barbara Lewis, and Anne Coleman were some of the original members who have been constant in their efforts. Thank you to Molly Keogh, the current Board President who has helmed the current Committee with wisdom and dedication. Thank you to Horace Knight with Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation. Thank you to Sandra Joy with the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, who always recognizes the humanity in each person on death row and those who have been exonerated. Thank you to the many religious leaders who lead their flocks in the right direction. Thank you to all the legislators who took the time to examine the issue of the death penalty in all of its complexity. Thank you to Abraham Bonowitz who was instrumental in pulling important people and events together. Thank you to all the volunteers and those who used their time and energy to pave the way for this decision.
We remain mindful and respectful of the many families of murder victims who continue to grieve, the many individuals who remain wrongfully accused and convicted, and those still on death row and their families.
While we celebrate the decision, concerns remain. The Delaware Department of Justice may decide to challenge the decision. The Delaware General Assembly may choose to attempt to create a new death penalty statute. The Delaware death penalty has gone and then returned in the past. We will remain vigilant!
This Wednesday, June 15th at 9:30 am, the Delaware Supreme Court will hear final oral arguments in preparation for deciding whether Delaware’s death penalty violates federal Constitutional standards.
Join us as we gather at 9:30 am in silence on the Green across from the Delaware Supreme Court, 55 The Green, Dover, DE 19901.
If you want to sit inside to hear the arguments, plan to be there by 8:30am as there is limited seating inside. Anyone entering the courthouse is asked to refrain from wearing pins, t-shirts, or other insignia related to their position on the death penalty.
If you cannot attend, you can follow the events on DE Supreme Court livestream video.
For further information on the arguments, go to DE Supreme Court Oral Arguments Rauf v State.
Sen. Karen Peterson, D-Stanton, and Rep. Sean Lynn, D-Dover, are suspending further legislative action on Senate Bill 40 – the death penalty repeal bill – due to the constitutional review of Delaware’s capital punishment statute by the Delaware Supreme Court.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has put the legitimacy of Delaware’s death penalty statute into question with its decision in Hurst v. Florida and Superior Court President Judge Jan Jurden has issued a temporary stay of all capital murder trials and executions,” Peterson said. “It only makes sense for the General Assembly to wait for the Delaware high court to rule before we decide on further action.”
To read the full article, click here.
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.