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Vocapedia > USA > Law, Justice > Appeal




























appeal the verdict


















an appeals court








state appeals court > ruling












































appellate court >

Louisiana 5th Circuit Court of Appeal >

judges of the 5th Circuit >

ignore the petitions of prisoners

who could not afford an attorney


In a state where police and prosecutorial misconduct

frequently make national headlines

and a stream of exonerations has revealed

a criminal justice system still functioning

in the shadow of slavery and Jim Crow,

a group of white judges had decided

that the claims of hundreds,

perhaps thousands, of inmates

— most of them Black —

were not worth taking the time to read.


fifth-circuit - November 4, 2023








the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court








 the full United States Court of Appeals

for the Eighth Circuit










United States Court of Appeals

for the Eighth Circuit > three-judge panel










United States Court of Appeals

for the District of Columbia Circuit












United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Second Circuit Court of Appeals


the busiest appellate court

for business and financial matters in the nation














the New York State Court of Appeal










Texas Court of Appeals








the federal appeals court in St. Louis










New York’s highest court > N.Y. Court of Appeals










A New York state appeals court

the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Brooklyn







a United States Court of Appeals / A U.S. appeals court






U.S. appeals courts > The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia





decision / opinion



























stay the lower court judgment





throw out / vacate










reverse his/her conviction





throw out someone's conviction > retrial











strike down / void / overturn


























file an appeal with Maryland's highest court, the Court of Appeals





appeals court





appeals court judge





federal appeals court judge






Federal appeals court

the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit /

the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals














dismiss a lawsuit






a panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals





the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals





a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals





state appeals court > Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal


















declare the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act unconstitutional





dissent / dissent










appeal to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

in Atlanta





forgo one's appeals





waive all remaining appeals





federal appeals panel





Federal Appeals Court judge Samuel Alito





the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan





















governor > issue a partial pardon to N























Corpus of news articles


USA > Law, Justice > Appeal




Robert R. Beezer,

Conservative Voice on Liberal Court,

Dies at 83


April 4, 2012

The New York Times



Judge Robert R. Beezer, who brought a conservative voice to one of the more liberal federal appeals courts in the United States, the Ninth Circuit, and who wrote influential opinions on capital punishment, copyright law on the Internet and Anna Nicole Smith’s claim to a huge inheritance, died on Friday in Seattle. He was 83.

The cause was lung cancer, his family said.

Judge Beezer heard more than 10,000 cases in his 28 years on the nation’s largest federal appeals court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He was appointed in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan after 28 years in private law practice. The capital punishment opinion came in 1994, when Judge Beezer, writing for the majority in a 6-to-5 decision, said that hanging was an acceptable form of execution.

The ruling was in the case of Charles Rodman Campbell, a death row inmate who had been convicted of killing two women and a girl and who objected to the method of execution to which he had been sentenced: by hanging. He contended that hanging amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. Washington State offered lethal injection as an alternative form of execution, but only if the condemned person requested it. Mr. Campbell said his religious convictions would not permit him to choose between methods.

Judge Beezer ruled that when it hanged people, the state exercised proper safeguards against slow death by strangling and other possibilities of unnecessary cruelty. “Campbell is not entitled to a painless execution, but only to one free of purposeful cruelty,” the judge wrote.

Judge Beezer sometimes departed from conservative orthodoxy. In 1991, in a 2-1 decision in which he wrote the opinion, he revised the standard for determining sexual harassment involving a woman, saying the test should be what a “reasonable woman” would construe as offensive behavior. The earlier standard had been gender-neutral, or what “a reasonable person” would consider harassment.

“We believe that a sex-blind reasonable-person standard tends to be male-biased,” Judge Beezer wrote.

In 2001, Judge Beezer wrote the unanimous opinion for a three-judge panel largely affirming the ruling of a lower court that Napster, a company whose business was allowing millions of people to copy music from the Internet free of charge, violated copyright law. Legal analysts said the decision extended traditional copyright protection to a medium in which creative works of many sorts can be traded widely with the click of a mouse. Napster ended up ceasing operations, eventually becoming a fee-based service under new ownership.

One of Judge Beezer’s most widely reported opinions concerned the case of Ms. Smith, the Playboy model and television personality who in 1994 married a Texas multimillionaire; she was 26, and he was 89. After he died 14 months later, she and his son fought an immensely complicated battle over his fortune. Her husband, J. Howard Marshall II, had not mentioned Ms. Smith in his will, but she contended that he had promised her a large inheritance.

The legal tangle began when Ms. Smith, whose legal name was Vickie Lynn Marshall, filed for bankruptcy in California. The bankruptcy court, a federal entity, was considering whether the inheritance she claimed was an asset that should be considered in the case. In 2000, the bankruptcy judge, ruling on accusations of fraud and malfeasance, awarded her $475 million in damages, essentially the amount she had sought from the estate.

Days later, however, a Texas probate court ruled that Ms. Smith should get nothing.

The case, stretching over years, went to the Ninth Circuit several times, and Judge Beezer wrote the opinion in two important rulings in the case. In one he vacated the bankruptcy court’s judgment, saying it was a matter for the state probate court; in the other, he affirmed that it was the probate court’s proper role to decide on the merits of fraud and malfeasance accusations. Last June, the United States Supreme Court upheld the judgment, which legal experts said refined how legal power is apportioned in bankruptcies.

Both Ms. Smith and Mr. Marshall’s son, E. Pierce Marshall, died before the case was decided. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. in his majority opinion upholding Judge Beezer, compared the case to “Bleak House,” Charles Dickens’s novel about a lawsuit that never ends.

Robert Renaut Beezer was born in Seattle on July 21, 1928, attended the University of Washington and transferred to the University of Virginia, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1951. He served in the Marine Corps for two years, and later in the Marine Corps Reserve, retiring with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1956.

He is survived by his wife of 54 years, the former Hazlehurst Plant Smith; his sons, Robert and John; his daughter, Allison Beezer; his sister, Allison Tyree; his brother, Arnold; and two grandsons.

Robert R. Beezer, Conservative Voice on Liberal Court, Dies at 83,






Inmate Asks Court

to Halt His Execution


September 26, 2010
The New York Times


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A death row inmate asked a federal appeals court on Sunday to halt his execution as he declined to choose a method for the lethal injection.

Lawyers for the inmate, Albert G. Brown, filed court papers to appeal a federal judge’s refusal to block the execution, which is set for Wednesday. Mr. Brown also let pass a noon deadline set by the judge to choose between a one-drug lethal injection or execution by a three-drug cocktail.

Mr. Brown’s refusal to choose means a three-drug cocktail will be used if the appeals court does not block his execution, which would be California’s first in nearly five years. He was sentenced to die for abducting, raping and killing a 15-year-old, Susan Jordan of Riverside County, in 1980.

Judge Jeremy Fogel of United States District Court in San Jose denied Mr. Brown’s two requests on Saturday to change his mind about going forward with the execution.

The judge initially delayed the execution in 2006 after finding that poorly trained officials carried out executions in a death chamber too cramped and dingy to protect the inmate from suffering “cruel and unusual” punishment while receiving a lethal injection. The state has since constructed a new death chamber and overhauled the selection and training of its execution team.

Mr. Brown’s latest appeal will be heard by a panel of three judges from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Inmate Asks Court to Halt His Execution, NYT, 26.9.2010,






Florida Court Calls

Ban on Gay Adoptions Unlawful


September 22, 2010
The New York Times


A 30-year-old Florida law that prohibits adoption by gay men and lesbians is unconstitutional, a state appeals court ruled on Wednesday, and the state’s governor said the law would not be enforced pending a decision on whether to appeal.

The decision by Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal said that Florida’s adoption law, which bans adoption by gay men and lesbians while allowing them to be foster parents, had “no rational basis” and thus violated the equal protection clause in the State Constitution. Judge Gerald B. Cope Jr. wrote the opinion, which affirmed a 2008 decision from a lower court.

At a news conference on Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Charlie Crist applauded the decision, saying: “It’s a very good day for Florida; it’s a great day for children. Children deserve a loving home to be in.”

Because the decision applies statewide, he said, “We are going to immediately stop enforcing the ban.”

The state, however, has 30 days to appeal. The governor said that he had spoken with the secretary of Florida’s Department of Children and Families, but did not say whether there would be an appeal.

A spokeswoman for Bill McCollum, the state attorney general, who has voiced support of the adoption ban, said his office was representing the department in the case, “and will be in discussions with our client as to whether or not they plan to appeal.”

A spokesman for the department said, “The primary consideration on whether to appeal is finding the balance between the value of a final ruling from the Florida Supreme Court versus the impact on the Gill family.”

Judge Cope wrote that “our ruling is unlikely to be the last word.”

The case involved the efforts of Martin Gill, a gay man, to adopt two brothers he took in more than five years ago as foster children when one was 4 years old and the other 4 months old. They had ringworm at the time, and the younger child had an untreated ear infection. The older boy did not speak for the first month with Mr. Gill and his partner.

“When they came in the door, we were kind of shocked at what bad condition we were in,” Mr. Gill said Wednesday in an interview. “We realized we had our work cut out for us.”

He added, “I would say today they are two happy, healthy, normal kids.”

In a concurring opinion, Judge Vance E. Salter wrote that the steps taken to heal and raise the boys “are nothing short of heroic.”

Evidence presented at the trial by opponents of the ban found no difference in the well-being of children raised by gay parents versus heterosexual parents.

Judge Cope wrote that at the trial, the state presented only two expert witnesses, one of whom undercut the state’s case by disagreeing with the idea of a blanket ban on gay adoption, stating instead that adoptions should be considered case by case. The other expert called by the state, Dr. George A. Rekers, was criticized by opposing experts as having provided research that was rife with “errors in scientific methodology and reporting” and that “did not meet established standards in the field.”

The court did not comment on the fact that Dr. Rekers, who was paid $120,000 for his work in the case, has since been enmeshed in a scandal after he was discovered to have taken a 10-day trip to Europe with a young man who advertised sexual services on a site for gay escorts.

According to the lower court decision cited in the opinion on Wednesday, “Florida is the only remaining state to expressly ban all gay adoptions without exception.”

Howard Simon, the executive director of the A.C.L.U. of Florida, which represented the Gill family, hailed the decision on Wednesday as a blow against discrimination that means all potential adoptive parents “will be judged on their individual fitness to provide a loving, stable, permanent adoptive home.”

That means, he said, that “some gays will be disqualified, and some heterosexuals will be disqualified,” but that “nobody is going to be categorically excluded because of who they are.”

Conservative organizations attacked the decision. Mathew D. Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of the Liberty University School of Law, said in a statement, “Common sense and human history underscore the fact that children need a mother and a father.”

Mr. Gill said that during the long trial process he had been careful to shield the boys from news that might make them fear further disruption in their lives, including threats about being removed from their home.

“I try to keep it all positive, and try to insulate them from the negative,” Mr. Gill said. But, he added, “I’m certainly going to tell them we have a victory today.”

Florida Court Calls Ban on Gay Adoptions Unlawful, NYT, 22.9.2010,






Woman on Death Row

Runs Out of Appeals


September 21, 2010
The New York Times


“She is clearly the head of this serpent,” the judge said of Teresa Lewis in 2003 when he sentenced her to death by lethal injection, describing her as the mastermind of the cold-blooded murders of her husband and his son as they slept in rural Virginia.

Late on Tuesday, the Supreme Court denied her last-ditch appeal for a stay, and Ms. Lewis, now 41, is scheduled to die on Thursday night at 9. Her case has drawn unusual attention, not only because she would be the first woman executed in the United States since 2005, and the first in Virginia since 1912, but also because of widely publicized concerns about the fairness of her sentence. Ms. Lewis waited this week in her prison cell, reportedly soothed by intense religious faith.

Her lawyers say her original defense against the death penalty was bungled. They also cite new evidence suggesting that Ms. Lewis — whose I.Q. of 72 is described by psychologists as borderline retarded — was manipulated by her co-conspirators, who were out to share in savings and life insurance worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Her partners in the crimes, two young men who fired the guns, received sentences of life without parole in what her lawyers call a “gross disparity” in punishment.

On Tuesday, blocking her only other chance for a reprieve, Gov. Bob McDonnell said for the second time that he would not grant clemency for what he called her “heinous crimes.”

Ms. Lewis’s guilt is not at issue. By her own admission, she plotted with the men to shoot her husband, Julian C. Lewis Jr., 51, and his son, Charles J. Lewis, 25, a reservist about to be deployed abroad.

Ms. Lewis, then 33, met her co-defendants, Matthew J. Shallenberger, who was 21, and his trailer-mate, Rodney L. Fuller, 20, in a line at Wal-Mart and, according to court records, they quickly started meeting and hatching murder plans. She became particularly attached to Mr. Shallenberger, showering him with gifts, but she had sex with both men and also encouraged her 16-year-old daughter to have sex with Mr. Fuller, the records say.

Ms. Lewis withdrew $1,200 and gave it to the two men to buy two shotguns and another weapon. The night of the murders, she admitted, she left a trailer door unlocked. Later, she stood by as the intruders blasted the victims with repeated shotgun blasts. As her husband lay dying, court records say, she took out his wallet and split the $300 she found with Mr. Shallenberger. She waited at least 45 minutes to call 911.

Her husband was moaning “baby, baby, baby” when a sheriff’s deputy arrived and he said, “My wife knows who done this to me,” before he died, the records indicate.

After initially claiming innocence, Ms. Lewis confessed and led police to the gunmen. In 2003, she was sentenced by Judge Charles J. Strauss of Pittsylvania Circuit Court, who concluded that Ms. Lewis had directed the scheme, enticing the killers with sex and promises of money and showing the “depravity of mind” that would justify a death sentence. In separate proceedings, the same judge gave life sentences to the gunmen.

Ms. Lewis’s lawyers later unearthed what they called compelling evidence that it was Mr. Shallenberger who did the enticing, including his own statements that he devised the murder plan and a prison letter to a girlfriend in which he said he “got her to fall in love with me so she would give me the insurance money.” Mr. Shallenberger killed himself in prison in 2006.

But prosecutors, in fighting subsequent appeals, said that before and after the crimes, Ms. Lewis had engaged in concerted actions to obtain money from her husband’s account and then from insurance, showing that she was far more capable than her lawyers now assert.

None of the evidence suggesting Mr. Shallenberger’s dominant role has been presented in court, but it was provided to Mr. McDonnell in a plea for clemency, along with details of her limited intellect, her diagnosis of “dependent personality disorder” and her addiction to pain pills.

When he first turned down the appeal on Friday, Mr. McDonnell noted that appeals courts have upheld her sentence and that “no medical professional has concluded that Teresa Lewis meets the medical or statutory definition of mentally retarded.”

Her lawyers argued in their petition to the Supreme Court that the case should be reopened because her original defense lawyer failed to explore whether her low intelligence and her psychiatric vulnerability would have left her able to plan the scheme. State prosecutors disagreed.

Opponents of the death penalty, and others who feel Ms. Lewis’s sentence is unjust, plan to hold vigils on Thursday, including one outside the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Va., where the execution is to take place.

“She said she is leaving it in the hands of Jesus,” her lead defense lawyer, James E. Rocap III, of Steptoe & Johnson in Washington, said on Tuesday, before she heard of the 7-to-2 decision by the Supreme Court not to consider her case.

Woman on Death Row Runs Out of Appeals, NYT, 21.9.2010,






Court Dismisses a Case

Asserting Torture by C.I.A.


September 8, 2010
The New York Times


WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled that former prisoners of the C.I.A. could not sue over their alleged torture in overseas prisons because such a lawsuit might expose secret government information.

The sharply divided ruling was a major victory for the Obama administration’s efforts to advance a sweeping view of executive secrecy powers. It strengthens the White House’s hand as it has pushed an array of assertive counterterrorism policies, while raising an opportunity for the Supreme Court to rule for the first time in decades on the scope of the president’s power to restrict litigation that could reveal state secrets.

By a 6-to-5 vote, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit dismissed a lawsuit against Jeppesen Dataplan Inc., a Boeing subsidiary accused of arranging flights for the Central Intelligence Agency to transfer prisoners to other countries for imprisonment and interrogation. The American Civil Liberties Union filed the case on behalf of five former prisoners who say they were tortured in captivity — and that Jeppesen was complicit in that alleged abuse.

Judge Raymond C. Fisher described the case, which reversed an earlier decision, as presenting “a painful conflict between human rights and national security.” But, he said, the majority had “reluctantly” concluded that the lawsuit represented “a rare case” in which the government’s need to protect state secrets trumped the plaintiffs’ need to have a day in court.

While the alleged abuses occurred during the Bush administration, the ruling added a chapter to the Obama administration’s aggressive national security policies.

Its counterterrorism programs have in some ways departed from the expectations of change fostered by President Obama’s campaign rhetoric, which was often sharply critical of former President George W. Bush’s approach.

Among other policies, the Obama national security team has also authorized the C.I.A. to try to kill a United States citizen suspected of terrorism ties, blocked efforts by detainees in Afghanistan to bring habeas corpus lawsuits challenging the basis for their imprisonment without trial, and continued the C.I.A.’s so-called extraordinary rendition program of prisoner transfers — though the administration has forbidden torture and says it seeks assurances from other countries that detainees will not be mistreated.

The A.C.L.U. vowed to appeal the Jeppesen Dataplan case to the Supreme Court, which would present the Roberts court with a fresh opportunity to weigh in on a high-profile test of the scope and limits of presidential power in counterterrorism matters.

It has been more than 50 years since the Supreme Court issued a major ruling on the state-secrets privilege, a judicially created doctrine that the government has increasingly used to win dismissals of lawsuits related to national security, shielding its actions from judicial review. In 2007, the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a similar rendition and torture ruling by the federal appeals court in Richmond, Va.

The current case turns on whether the executive can invoke the state-secrets privilege to shut down entire lawsuits, or whether that power should be limited to withholding particular pieces of secret information. In April 2009, a three-judge panel on the Ninth Circuit adopted the narrower view, ruling that the lawsuit as a whole should proceed.

But the Obama administration appealed to the full San Francisco-based appeals court. A group of 11 of its judges reheard the case, and a narrow majority endorsed the broader view of executive secrecy powers. They concluded that the lawsuit must be dismissed without a trial — even one that would seek to rely only on public information.

“This case requires us to address the difficult balance the state secrets doctrine strikes between fundamental principles of our liberty, including justice, transparency, accountability and national security,” Judge Fisher wrote. “Although as judges we strive to honor all of these principles, there are times when exceptional circumstances create an irreconcilable conflict between them.”

Ben Wizner, a senior A.C.L.U. lawyer who argued the case before the appeals court, said the group was disappointed in the ruling.

“To this date, not a single victim of the Bush administration’s torture program has had his day in court,” Mr. Wizner said. “That makes this a sad day not only for the torture survivors who are seeking justice in this case, but for all Americans who care about the rule of law and our nation’s reputation in the world. If this decision stands, the United States will have closed its courts to torture victims while providing complete immunity to their torturers.”

Some plaintiffs in the case said they were tortured by C.I.A. interrogators at an agency “black site” prison in Afghanistan, while others said they were tortured by Egypt and Morocco after the C.I.A. handed them off to foreign security services.

The lead plaintiff is Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian citizen and legal resident of Britain who was arrested in Pakistan in 2002. He claimed he was turned over to the C.I.A., which flew him to Morocco and handed him off to its security service.

Moroccan interrogators, he said, held him for 18 months and subjected him to an array of tortures, including cutting his penis with a scalpel and then pouring a hot, stinging liquid on the open wounds.

Mr. Mohamed was later transferred back to the C.I.A., which he said flew him to its secret prison in Afghanistan. There, he said, he was held in continuous darkness, fed sparsely and subjected to loud noise — like the recorded screams of women and children — 24 hours a day.

He was later transferred again to the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where he was held for an additional five years. He was released and returned to Britain in early 2009 and is now free.

There were signs in the court’s ruling that the majority felt conflicted. In a highly unusual move, the court ordered the government to pay the plaintiffs’ legal costs, even though they lost the case and had not requested such payment.

Judge Fisher, who was a senior Justice Department official before President Bill Clinton appointed him to the bench in 1999, also urged the executive branch and Congress to grant reparations to victims of C.I.A. “misjudgments or mistakes” that violated their human rights if government records confirmed their accusations, even though the courthouse was closed to them.


He cited as precedent payments made to Latin Americans of Japanese descent who were forcibly sent to United States internment camps during World War II. But the five dissenting judges criticized the realism of that idea, noting that those reparations took five decades.

“Permitting the executive to police its own errors and determine the remedy dispensed would not only deprive the judiciary of its role, but also deprive plaintiffs of a fair assessment of their claims by a neutral arbiter,” Judge Michael Daly Hawkins wrote.

After the A.C.L.U. filed the case in 2007, the Bush administration asked a district judge to dismiss it, submitting public and classified declarations by the C.I.A. director at the time, Michael Hayden, arguing that litigating the matter would jeopardize national security.

The trial judge dismissed the case. As an appeal was pending, Mr. Obama won the 2008 presidential election. Although he had criticized the Bush administration’s frequent use of the state-secrets privilege, in February 2009 his weeks-old administration told the appeals court that it agreed with the Bush view in that case.

In September 2009, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. issued a new state-secrets privilege policy requiring high-level approval, instructing officials to try to avoid shutting down lawsuits if possible, and forbidding its use with a motive of covering up lawbreaking or preventing embarrassment.

The administration told the court that using the privilege in the Jeppesen Dataplan case complied with that policy.

Judge Fisher agreed that “the government is not invoking the privilege to avoid embarrassment or to escape scrutiny of its recent controversial transfer and interrogation policies, rather than to protect legitimate national security concerns.”

Jeppesen Dataplan and the C.I.A. referred questions to the Justice Department, where a spokesman, Matthew Miller, praised its new standards.

“The attorney general adopted a new policy last year to ensure the state-secrets privilege is only used in cases where it is essential to protect national security, and we are pleased that the court recognized that the policy was used appropriately in this case,” Mr. Miller said.

Court Dismisses a Case Asserting Torture by C.I.A., NYT, 8.9.2010,






Ethics Dilemma for Lawyers

When Inmates Seek Death


November 19, 2008
Filed at 2:42 p.m. ET
The New York Times


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- John Delaney faced the toughest moment of his legal career -- his condemned client wanted to drop his appeals and die by injection, an act Delaney opposed and had been trained to try to prevent.

''What do you say?'' asked Delaney, a public defender in northern Kentucky who represented Marco Allen Chapman.

It's a question that has arisen 131 times since states resumed executions in 1977, and each time it leaves defense lawyers struggling against their training to act in the best interest of their clients and justice.

''We're trained as lawyers to be an advocate for someone and fight as hard as we can,'' said Stephen Harris, a University of Baltimore law professor who represented execution volunteer John Thanos in Maryland in 1994. ''Here's someone who says, 'I don't want you,' then, 'I want to die.'''

The first volunteer after the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976 was Gary Mark Gilmore, put to death a year later by a firing squad in Utah for killing a gas station attendant. The 128 men and two women who have followed suit often gave similar reasons -- mainly remorse, a desire for atonement and not wanting to spend their lives in prison -- according to the Death Penalty Information Center, an anti-capital punishment group that compiles statistics on executions.

About 12 percent of the 1,133 inmates executed in the U.S. since 1977 abandoned their appeals and asked for their sentences to be carried out, said Richard Dieter, executive director of the center and a law professor at Catholic University in Washington. Each time, the inmate either fired the defense lawyer or told them to stop filing appeals.

''It amounts to the same thing,'' Dieter said.

Attorneys are required to follow the client's wishes or have themselves removed from the case, said Michael Mello, a Vermont Law School professor who teaches ethics and death penalty law.

''Their hands are pretty well tied,'' Mello said. ''These are the cases that haunt you. This is the most hideous of cases.''

That's how Gus Cahill felt when his client, Keith Eugene Wells, told him he wanted to die. Wells was convicted of beating a couple to death in 1990 in Idaho. He went through the mandatory appeals, then decided to waive any remaining legal options and was lethally injected in 1994.

''I really liked Keith,'' said Cahill, a public defender in Boise. ''You're just thinking, 'Oh, my God, I feel so sorry for being part of what Keith wanted to do.'''

Harris, who opted not to try to talk Thanos into sticking with his appeals, said cases of death penalty volunteers always come with second thoughts, but knowing that a client went willingly to his execution is something attorneys just have to come to grips with.

''I don't know what was in his mind,'' he said. ''You always have regrets about that stuff. But I think I made the right decision.''

Chapman, 36, is to die Friday at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville for killing a 7-year-old girl and her 6-year-old brother six years ago in a crack cocaine-fueled attack on a family for whom he'd worked as a handyman.

Delaney, 49, was assigned the case in 2004, and Chapman quickly made it clear that he didn't want a defense and didn't want his life spared. Chapman said at several court hearings and in letters to judges that he wanted to plead guilty and be sentenced to death.

To Delaney, Chapman's reasoning for dropping his appeals made sense on some level.

''Marc wanted to try to make amends to the family,'' Delaney said.

That didn't make it easy to step out of the way of Chapman's execution. Delaney repeatedly tried to get the inmate to at least let a jury determine what sentence to impose. He refused.

Delaney told Chapman to fire him before pleading guilty.

''I wasn't going to help him,'' Delaney said. ''He wasn't in left field for what he wants, though.''

A judge granted Chapman's request to dismiss Delaney and appointed him standby counsel in case Chapman changed his mind.

Delaney tells himself he did everything possible for his reluctant client.

If the execution goes through as scheduled Friday night, he said, he'll be having a drink and tell himself that at least one more time.

Ethics Dilemma for Lawyers When Inmates Seek Death,
NYT, 20.11.2008,
aponline/us/AP-Suicide-By-Court.html - broken link










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