Sep
06

The Death Clerk

By

The Supreme Court watches execution schedules carefully. Every Monday, the Justices receive an update on all executions scheduled nationwide for the next six or seven weeks. It is compiled by Danny Bickell, whose formal title is Emergency Applications Clerk. The capital defense bar calls him, “The Death Clerk.” Bickell described his role to a conference of lawyers in Washington recently, and was profiled in a revealing Adam Liptak piece this week in the New York Times:    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/04/us/in-capital-punishment-cases-weeks-go-into-deciding-last-minute-reprieves-sidebar.html

Bickell outlines the Court’s carefully-designed procedures for dealing with last-minute appeals. He stays in close touch with defense lawyers as an execution approaches so that he is prepared to bring the Justices up to speed. Rarely will a Justice act alone to halt an execution, he says; most requests will be referred to the full Court. Liptak’s takeout is a really good read.

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