Entry for October 13, 2006

A team of more than a dozen attorneys at the law firm of Dickstein Shapiro LLP just looked at capital procedures in Virginia, from the initial investigation of the case to post-conviction proceedings  and found that Virginia’s laws, policies and procedures fail to satisfy the 85 recommendations of the Illinois Commission on what was crucial to rpovide a constutionally fair trial.  Their report,  “Equal Justice and Fair Play:  An Assessment of the Capital Justice System in at a Virginia,” was released yesterday at a press conference led by William G. Broaddus, Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia from 1982-85 and moderated by Jack Payden-Travers (email for a copy of the report), Executive Director of Virginians for Alternatives to the Death  Penalty

Fformer US Senator and Attorney for Maryland, Joseph D.   Tydings supervised the report.  He served as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee represented one Virginia capital defendent  pro bono.  In a cover letter to the report, he wrote,

Virginia judges and commonwealth prosecutors and law enforcement leaders need to assume real responsibility and exercise wise and enlightened leadership to ensure that in this great and historic Commonwealth no innocent defendant is convicted and executed.

 The 10:30 a.m. event took place in the 7th Floor West Conference Room of the  General Assembly Building in Richmond.  Also speaking were 

  • Nancy Gowen, murder victim’s family member who resides in Richmond
  • Virginia Delegate Frank Hargrove (R)
  • King Salim Khalfani, Executive Director of the  Virginia State Conference NAACP
  • Jonathan Shapiro, representing the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense
    Lawyers
  • Rev. C. Douglas Smith, Executive Director of the VA Interfaith Center for Public Policy
  • Erin Webb, an associate at Dickstein Shapiro LLP

VDAP is an affiliate of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty which holds its conference in Fairfax, Virginia on October 26-29.  Read VDAP’s blog to keep abreast of events here in Virginia.   

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