Legal Cartoon

Compliments of Mark Anderson of Andertoons

Capital Sentence Set Aside for California Inmate


In a recent Wall Street Journal Law Blog Post written by Chad Bray entitled:California’s Longest-Serving Death Row Inmate Wins in Ninth Circuit, Mr. Stankewitz, a Native American, has been on death row in California since 1978, when he was convicted in the kidnapping and murder of Ms. Greybeal had his capital sentence set aside.

Mr. Stankewitz was one of the first people sentenced to death after the state reinstated capital punishment in 1978. Thirteen people have been executed since.  In a 2-1 decision Monday, the Ninth Circuit upheld a court order that Mr. Stankewitz’s death sentence be vacated unless California officials seek to retry the capital phase of his case within 90 days or resentence him to life without parole.

The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit tracked that of a lower court, which found that a lawyer for Douglas Ray Stankewitz failed to investigate circumstances leading up to the murder of Theresa Greybeal – namely Mr. Stankewitz’s abusive childhood and long history of substance abuse.

For further information, please read the entire Wall Street Journal Blog Post.

Constitutional Reprieve For California Death Row Inmate

On December 01, 1989, Hector Ayala joined his brother Ronaldo on Death Row when a judge affirmed a jury’s recommendation for the death penalty for a drug related killing of three men in a Southeast Dan Diego garage on April 26, 1985.  At the time of the conviction, lawyers for Mr. Ayala alleged that prosecutors struck jurors from hearing the case on the basis of their race.  The judge who presided over he case heard the prosecutors arguments for disqualifying certain jurors but failed to reveal these reasons to either Mr. Ayala or his lawyers.

On Wednesday, August 28th, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the trial judge’s handling of the juror strikes violated Mr. Ayala’s constitutional rights and ordered Mr. Ayala released from custody unless the state decides to retry him.

For further information about this ruling, please refer to the Wall Street Journal Law BlogPosting written by Steve Eder entitled Death Row Inmate Scores Legal Victory in the Ninth Circuit. 

Racial Justice Act of 2009 Delays Death Penalty Executions in North Carolina


The controversial Racial Justice Act, a 2009 law that allows death row prisoners to use statistical evidence of discrimination to appeal their sentence, has played a part in the stalemate of carrying out death sentences in North Carolina. But so have other prisoner appeals that question whether the state’s execution method is cruel and unusual or their crimes were investigated fairly.

North Carolina, which has 156 prisoners on death row, has not executed an inmate since Aug. 18, 2006, when Samuel R. Flippen was put to death by lethal injection for the beating death of his two-year-old step daughter.  Since then, a complex and evolving set of legal challenges have imposed a de facto moratorium on the death penalty in North Carolina.

The complete article entitled: Complex challenges put NC death penalty on life support, written by Mark Binker, can be found on