Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Update: Delaware Death Penalty Repeal

Yesterday, the Delaware state Senate approved the bill to repeal their state's death penalty. The approval came only after they removed the provision that the sentences of the 17 inmates currently on death row would change from a death penalty sentence, sparing their lives.

From here, the bill heads to the Delaware state House for their consideration.

For more information, read the Associated Press article here.

Maryland state Senate and House have also recently passed a bill to abolish the death penalty in their state. When signed by Governor Martin O'Malley, Maryland will become the sixth state to do so in recent years. Other states include New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, Illinois and Connecticut.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Delaware bill to repeal death penalty to be put before the Senate Executive Committee today

Progress is being made toward eliminating the death penalty in Delaware, as last week State Senator Karen Peterson introduced a bill to repeal the death penalty and replace the punishment with life without parole.

Peterson shared, "I don’t think the state should be in the business of killing people. It just is so bizarre to me that we would say to somebody that what you did was so horrible, that now we’re going to do it." 

The bill is also supported by Senate Minority Leader Gary Simpson (R). In addition to eliminating the death penalty in the state, the bill would replace existing death penalty sentences with life without parole. Governor Jack Markell has not taken a position on the issue and has said, "I have an open mind."

The bill was scheduled to be brought to the Senate Executive Committee todayDelaware has carried out 16 executions since 1992, the most recent of which was executed in April 2012. Seventeen people currently sit on death row in Delaware.

UPDATE 3/20/13: The bill has cleared a Senate Committee and is heading to the full Senate for a vote.

Information from J. Starkey, "Death Penalty Repeal Revs Up As Police Groups Voice Opposition," News Journal, March 12, 2013. Read the article here.

One of the cornerstones of the TLC curriculum, we offer a Death Penalty Seminar open to trial lawyers, investigators and mitigation specialists. At the seminar, we strive to walk in the shoes of our clients and to understand the impact of the crime on all the people touched by the tragedy. We bring together teams to discover the story of the client; we work on direct examination of the family of the accused and the experts presented in the mitigation stage; we look at jury selection and how to seat a jury that can hear the evidence that justifies life. This continuing law education program will focus on and address techniques the trial lawyer can use to successfully and adequately represent and understand a defendant facing the death penalty and to defeat death. For more information on the seminar and to apply, please visit Application deadline is April 26, 2013.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Gerry Spence speaks at the 2013 TLC CA Seminar in Cambria, CA

Gerry will also join TLC at the 2013 WA Regional Seminar: Opening Statement from March 21-24 in Leavenworth, WA, where students will learn to use unique TLC methods to prepare, develop and deliver a powerfully persuasive Opening Statement and win. For more information and to register, visit Registration ends today!

"Give me a good Voir Dire and the right Opening Statement and, so long as the lawyer retains credibility and tells the truth, the case is already won." - Gerry Spence

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Warriors helping Warriors

by Joy Bertrand (TLC 2011)

No one has extra time during the holidays. Nonetheless, twice this past December, TLC alumni came forward to help me on the case that keeps me up at night. 

December is my favorite month of the year. This past year, however, though, I told my friends I’d need a “holiday waiver.” I had to file the last two of four responses to motions to dismiss in the most difficult case on my calendar. So, no Milwaukee party week, no tree and office Christmas party, no Chicago Christmas shopping - I’d be writing. 

Our schizophrenic client was raped repeatedly by her social worker. He told police the “encounters” occurred eleven to twelve times. Those rapes resulted in a child, whom the social worker then kept sua sponte. I represent the client in a civil rights lawsuit against the social worker and four of his colleagues.

Early in December, Shawn McMillan (TLC 2010.1), spent an afternoon walking through the case with me and tutoring me about CPS-related civil rights litigation. Seeing the hustle-bustle of his office, he clearly had no time to spare.  He gave it to me anyway. I wish I could say I am a quick study. I am so grateful for Shawn’s time, caring, and patience. 

My mind spinning from all of the information Shawn gave me, I then had to put it into something coherent. I sent an email to Arizona TLC alumni offering what I could in exchange for an afternoon of helping me: “This is so important, I WILL BAKE if you help us!”  

Upon my meager offering, lawyers in our local TLC group, Bob Hommel (TLC 2012.2), Victoria Washington (Death Penalty College), Janet Margrave and Steve Wallin, gave their Friday-before-Christmas afternoon to help me.  I brought my “fruitcake for people who hate fruitcake” and filled turnover cookies (my mom’s recipe). They, along with my firm’s associate, Shannon Peters Schear (TLC 2012.1), brought their full commitment to the work.

We don’t usually consider applying TLC methods when we write and we should.  Here, brainstorming and discovering a story I already knew well helped me tell our client’s story with more feeling and less technical detachment. I wrote from my heart, even within the strict procedural confines of a federal 12(b)(6) brief. 

Most importantly, when things felt most dreary and I was exhausted from writing these complex briefs, my TLC brothers and sisters reminded that we do not fight alone. Their passion for justice for my client – a woman they (other than Shannon) had never met in a city 1,500 miles away - continues to inspire me. I am so grateful to have these fellow Warriors in my life.  

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Psychodrama - A firsthand perspective

An interview with David Sullivan - TLC's California Regional Seminar

When I first went to the psychodrama I was a little apprehensive because I didn’t know what to expect. I had heard a lot about it touching cords and causing you to become emotional. Being a fairly stoic person most of the time, I thought I would be one of those people who would not be touched. 

Having experienced it firsthand, I think it’s made me a better person. I look forward to seeing whether it’s true in the way I interact with people moving forward. I think it will also make me a better lawyer and cause me to search inside my clients more than I have in the past. If I can look inside them better, maybe I can let the jury see inside them as well.

I am leaving with a new perspective on things, which will allow me to approach going to trial in a different, more effective way. I even think going into trial will actually be easier! Leaving the Seminar, I also feel good because I’ve made many positive connections with people. When you go through an experience like this, the memory doesn’t go away anytime soon.

Things feel different now. I "drank the Kool-Aid," as others have said, and the Kool-Aid was really good! I don’t see a downside -- making people more in touch with themselves so they can love other people more freely can never be a bad thing.

When I return home, I will, without hesitation, check in with the people I have met here. And I hope they do the same with me!