The rejection of Colorado death-row inmate Nathan Dunlap’s appeal by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday came surprisingly quickly — it took the judges less than a month after arguments to issue a ruling (PDF) when it normally takes several months. But, based on the court’s recent history, that was the only surprising thing about the finding.
The appeal always faced narrow odds for success at the Denver-based appellate court. The court, which is one rung below the U.S. Supreme Court, has decided only about one in four death-penalty appeals in favor of the inmate over the past decade, according to a Denver Post analysis of court decisions. Of the 42 death-row inmates in that span who have so far had their appeals ruled on by the court, 25 have since been executed. Nine more remain on death row awaiting execution.
The ratio is typical of what University of Oklahoma law professor Randall Coyne* says is the even-handed reputation of the court on death-penalty matters. The 10th Circuit, Coyne said, isn’t seen as a rubber stamp for deaths sentences, but it also isn’t a frequent blocker of them.
To read more about this topic, click on the following link: http://blogs.denverpost.com/crime/2012/04/16/10th-circuit-stingy-granting-deathpenalty-appeals/4038/.
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