This week, the Supreme Court rejected the appeals of two cases, one from Ohio, and one from Florida, involving inmates challenging the constitutionality of their death sentences. In particular, the case from Florida involves Henry Sireci, who was first sentenced to death in 1976 over the murder of a used car salesman. Sireci’s lawyers have argued that Florida’s refusal to grant him a new trial based on newly discovered DNA evidence that might exonerate him was a violation of his due process rights.
Justice Steven Breyer, himself on a crusade against the death penalty, made an interesting note about this case:
“When he was first sentenced to death…the Berlin Wall stood firmly in place. Saigon had just fallen. Few Americans knew of the personal computer or the Internet. And over half of all Americans now alive had not yet been born.”
Very much a testament to the inordinately lengthy amount of time death row inmate typically spend waiting for their eventual deaths. This represents a blow to the Justice’s mission to bring an end to the death penalty, but one can imagine that this won’t be the end.