CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

"Court green-lights execution of Missouri man who presented evidence of racist prosecutor"

Amy Howe has this post at ScotusBlog, noting dissents by Justices Sotomayor and Jackson. In part:

Last month, a state trial court appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the original prosecutor’s alleged racism. The special prosecutor found “clear” evidence that the original prosecutor “consistently made race-influenced decisions in his handling of capital homicides.” Based on those findings, the special prosecutor filed a motion to invalidate Johnson’s death sentence.

Calling Johnson’s new stay request a “transparent refusal to accept moral responsibility for his crimes,” Missouri urged the court to allow Johnson’s execution to go ahead as scheduled. The state dismissed Johnson’s claims of racial bias as “completely baseless.” But in any event, it continued, a Missouri Supreme Court decision denying Johnson’s plea to stay his execution rested on its conclusion that Johnson’s claims were not covered by a new state law that allows prosecutors to make post-conviction motions on behalf of inmates. Therefore, the state concluded, the Missouri Supreme Court’s decision was based on an independent state-law ground, which bars the U.S. Supreme Court from reviewing it.

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