Column - 'In Alabama, the judges play God:' New Yorker takes on dp in today's political update

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Steve Hall

Nov 13, 2014, 12:39:40 PM11/13/14
November 13, 2014 at 7:25 AM | Column

'In Alabama, the judges play God:' New Yorker takes on death penalty in
today's political update
By Leada Gore |

Alabama's law that allows judges to override jury sentencing recommendations
is the topic of an in-depth piece an upcoming issue of New Yorker magazine.

The Nov. 17 issue of the magazine includes a story by Missouri School of
Journalism professor Paige Williams detailing the case of Shonelle Jackson.
Jackson was 18 in 1997 when he was involved in the shooting death of drug
dealer Lefrick Moore in Montgomery.

A jury found Jackson guilty and recommended life in prison for the teenager
who had grown up with a drug-addicted mother and was responsible for caring
for his two young sisters. Despite the jury's recommendation, Circuit Judge
William Gordon took advantage of an Alabama law that allows him to override
their decision and instead, sentenced Jackson to death.

Alabama is one of only three states - the other two being Florida and
Delaware - where judges can override a jury's sentencing decision. No
Delaware inmates are currently on death row due to a judicial sentencing
override and it has not been used in Florida in 15 years. In 31 of the past
32 years, Alabama judges have condemned someone to death through the
override at least once, the article notes.

Thirty-six of the nearly 200 convicts on Alabama's death row are there
because of override.

/ / / / /
Steve Hall
The StandDown Texas Project
PO Box 13475
Austin, TX 78711

512.879.1675 (o
512.627.3011 (m
Skype: shall78711

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