Coalition Seeks Change in Death Penalty Rules: A San Diego law enforcement coalition has announced support of reforms to California's death penalty process, suggesting the streamlining of appeals and the implementation of an execution method less subject to legal challenges. Teri Figueroa of UT San Diego reports that the 53 percent of voters who rejected a measure to abolish the death penalty last year will support the new proposal to enforce it. The last murderer executed in the state was Clarence Ray Allen in 2006, after spending over 23 years on death row. Members of the group Californians for Death Penalty Reform and Savings believe that "families should not have to wait decades for justice."
NH Man who Killed Parents as a Teen Gets Parole: A New Hampshire parole board ruled Thursday that a man who has spent over 15 years in prison for murdering his parents at age 14, will be paroled under the condition that he complete counseling and learn necessary life skills. Holly Ramer of the Associated Press reports that 31-year-old Jeffrey Dingman has earned his high school equivalency degree and work full-time at a steel mill while incarcerated. The parole board is concerned that he lacks the skills to succeed in society, due to his age at the time he entered prison. In 1996, Dingman and his 17-year-old brother shot their parents to death when they returned home from work, hid their bodies and partied all weekend before returning to school on Monday. The older brother is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder and conspiracy.
Justice Dept. Loses Death Penalty Ruling.: A federal district judge in Oakland, California has blocked the Justice Department from authorizing states to put their death penalty cases on a "fast track" once they reach federal court. Bob Egelko of the SF Chronicle reports that a 1996 law established the process, but left the decisions on which state's qualified to federal judges. But after nine years, no state that had applied, including California, was found qualified by a federal judge. In 2006 the law was amended to have the Department of Justice decide if a state met the criteria and the DC Circuit to handle judicial review. A key hurdle was the competency standard for lawyers appointed to represent condemned murders. Responding to a lawsuit questioning those standards by a group of defense attorneys, Judge Claudia Wilken has issued a preliminary injunction halting the application process. CJLF Legal Director Kent Scheidegger says that the law is being delayed for no good reason.