Complex Logistics For Trial With Death Penalty Inmates

Aug 1, 2012

A habeas corpus trial involving seven death row inmates is scheduled to take place in Connecticut in the coming weeks. The logistics of the trial have been complex.

Connecticut abolished the death penalty earlier this year, but the new law is prospective, affecting only future crimes. It leaves in place the sentences of eleven inmates currently on death row. 

Seven of the condemned men are suing the state charging racial, ethnic and geographic disparity in the way Connecticut administers the death penalty. The trial is to begin in September, and coordinating the logistics has been a challenge.

According to court documents, the Department of Correction offered two plans. The first proposed that the trial take place at Rockville Superior Court. Inmates would have been in their cells in prison and watched the proceedings on television. They would have had to communicate with counsel by phone. But their lawyers objected to the idea, saying they want to able to communicate directly with their clients throughout the trial. 

Another plan was developed and has been approved by a Superior Court Judge. Now the trial will take place in a vacant housing unit at Northern Correctional Institution in Somers. It’ll be broadcast live to Rockville Superior Court where the public and media can watch.

Defense attorneys for the death row inmates had wanted to include in this case, the issue of whether a prospective death penalty repeal is constitutional. But the judge denied the motion.

It is expected that there will be appeals challenging whether a death sentence can stand, now that Connecticut has ended capital punishment.