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Amici Curiae Brief of New York law school professors in People v. Harris: Constitutionality of the New York Death Penalty Statute Under the State Constitution's Cruel and Unusual Punishments and Antidiscrimination Clauses
Cornell Law Faculty Publications
  • Anthony G. Amsterdam, New York University School of Law
  • Ursula Bentele
  • Vivian Berger
  • John H. Blume, Cornell Law School
  • Peggy Davis
  • Deborah Denno
  • Markus Dubber
  • Stephen Ellmann
  • Deborah Fins
  • Eric M. Freedman
  • Stephen P. Garvey, Cornell Law School
  • Jack Greenberg
  • Randy Hertz, New York University School of Law
  • Sheri Lynn Johnson, Cornell Law School
  • Richard Klein
  • James Liebman
  • Peter Neufeld
  • Barry Scheck
  • Bryan Stevenson
Document Type
Article
Publication Date
1-1-2002
Keywords
  • Amicus brief,
  • People v. Harris,
  • Death Penalty Act of 1995,
  • Capital punishment,
  • Helen Jewett,
  • John Colt,
  • Commander Alexander Mackenzie,
  • Stephen Van Rennselaer,
  • Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause,
  • Antidiscrimination Clause
Disciplines
Abstract
Amici are teachers in New York law schools who have studied the operation of the death penalty for the purpose of teaching the subject, writing about it in scholarly journals, or representing persons accused or convicted of capital crimes. Most of us have worked in the field both as academics and as pro bono counsel for condemned inmates. Collectively, we have had first-hand experience in hundreds of death cases, in dozens of jurisdictions, extending over more than a third of a century. Our experience has convinced us that capital punishment cannot be administered with the fairness, reliability, and freedom from discrimination that a penalty so grave and irreversible requires. This is no accident or transitory condition; it is the consequence of certain innate attributes of the penalty of death. The purpose of our brief is to analyze those attributes and explain why they are fundamentally at war with the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause and the Antidiscrimination Clause of New York’s Bill of Rights. We hope to persuade the Court that it should not temporize with the death penalty in the face of this basic incompatibility but should hold the 1995 death penalty statute altogether unconstitutional.
Publication Citation
Published in: New York University Review of Law & Social Change, vol. 27, nos. 2 & 3 (2001-2002).
Citation Information
Anthony G. Amsterdam, Ursula Bentele, Vivian Berger, John H. Blume, et al.. "Amici Curiae Brief of New York law school professors in People v. Harris: Constitutionality of the New York Death Penalty Statute Under the State Constitution's Cruel and Unusual Punishments and Antidiscrimination Clauses" (2002)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/stephen_garvey/22/