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September 25, 2009

Discussion on capital punishment and the Supreme Court, September 30, 2009

University of Texas law professors and leading death penalty experts Rob Owen and Jordan Steiker will host a “First Monday Discussion” on capital punishment issues and the United States Supreme Court on Wednesday, September 30, 2009, from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Sheffield Room at the School of Law.

The event, sponsored by the Capital Punishment Center, is open to the public. “First Monday” is held annually at law schools across the country around the first Monday in October to commemorate the opening day of the new Supreme Court Term.

Professors Owen and Steiker co-direct the Capital Punishment Center at UT Law.

Owen and Steiker will discuss capital punishment issues in the Supreme Court in both the last term and the coming term. They will devote special attention to issues of exoneration and wrongful conviction, such as whether convicted defendants have any avenue for seeking post-conviction DNA testing after this Term’s decision in District Attorney’s Office v. Osborne.

They will also consider whether the Court has signaled an intention to involve itself more directly in “innocence” cases with its unprecedented August decision ordering an evidentiary hearing for Troy Davis, a condemned Georgia prisoner who maintains his innocence of the 1989 police officer killing that sent him to death row. They will also examine whether the Court’s decision interpreting a federal statute to require federal funding for clemency proceedings in state death penalty cases (in Harbison v. Bell) can also be put to use to improve the quality and performance of defense counsel in state judicial proceedings.

Finally, they will consider to what extent pending cases that would outlaw life imprisonment without parole as punishment for crimes committed by juveniles have implications for constitutional challenges to the death penalty.


Kirston Fortune, UT Law Communications, (512) 471-7330,