LegalReader.com  ·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

News & Politics

When Do Trial Lapses Void a Death Sentence?


— December 7, 2003

It took Delma Banks and his lawyers 19 years to discover the truth.
State prosecutors at his 1980 murder trial allowed two key witnesses to lie to the jury that sentenced Mr. Banks to death.

But even after the deception was uncovered, a federal appeals court said it didn’t matter.

On March 12, 2003, Texas corrections officers strapped Banks to a gurney and prepared a lethal injection. Then, with 10 minutes to go, word of a stay came from the US Supreme Court.

Monday, the justices take up the Banks case to determine whether the misconduct of prosecutors and the ineffectiveness of Banks’s own lawyer were so significant as to require the invalidation of his death sentence. The case arises at a time of heightened national debate over the propriety of capital punishment, with 111 death-row inmates having successfully overturned their death sentences since 1973.

From The Christian Science Monitor here.


It took Delma Banks and his lawyers 19 years to discover the truth.
State prosecutors at his 1980 murder trial allowed two key witnesses to lie to the jury that sentenced Mr. Banks to death.

But even after the deception was uncovered, a federal appeals court said it didn’t matter.

On March 12, 2003, Texas corrections officers strapped Banks to a gurney and prepared a lethal injection. Then, with 10 minutes to go, word of a stay came from the US Supreme Court.

Monday, the justices take up the Banks case to determine whether the misconduct of prosecutors and the ineffectiveness of Banks’s own lawyer were so significant as to require the invalidation of his death sentence. The case arises at a time of heightened national debate over the propriety of capital punishment, with 111 death-row inmates having successfully overturned their death sentences since 1973.

From The Christian Science Monitor here.

Join the conversation!