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News Scan

50-Page Limit for CA Successive Habeas Petitions: Scott Graham of The Recorder reports on the California Supreme Court's ruling Thursday, that all successive capital habeas corpus petitions be limited to 50-pages, spelling out which claims are new, which have been previously raised and rejected, which could have been raised, and which claims a federal court deemed unexhausted. A violation of the page limit may result in financial sanctions, State Bar discipline, or both. There will continue to be no limits on initial habeas petitions. The court found the second state habeas petition filed in In re Reno was an abusive writ, according to Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar for a unanimous court. The 2004 writ was 519 pages long and raised 143 claims, many of which had been raised and rejected in Reno's first petition.

CA Death Row Inmate Attacks 2 Prison Guards: Jason Kandel of NBC Los Angeles News reports San Quentin death row inmate Timothy McGhee allegedly attacked two prison guards with a shank when returning to his cell after a shower Thursday. The guards suffered slash wounds to their head, neck, and arms. McGhee was a former gang leader in LA called Toonerville which had about 200 members. He was previously one of the United States Marshals Service's Top 15 Most Wanted Fugitives, and was arrested in 2003 following a three year international manhunt. In 2009, McGhee was convicted and sentenced to death for killing three people from 1997 and 2001, and attempting to kill one other.  Terri Thornton, a spokeswoman with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said the motive for the attack is unknown.

LA County Utilizes Inmate Screening Software: Jason Song of the Los Angeles Times reports Los Angeles county will begin using a computer software to help the Sheriff's Department decide which jail inmates to let out early. The program, dubbed Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions, or COMPAS, places inmates on a 10-point scale to determine their likelihood to reoffend. It considers data compiled from a 137-question survey completed by each inmate. The questions address inmate personalities, emotions, anger management, family history, drug use, and gang activity. The program has already classified 45% of about 3,400 surveyed inmates as low-risk and eligible for electronic monitoring.  Convicts determined to be low-risk would be subject to three additional reviews prior to release. Sheriffs' officials must prove to the Board of Supervisors that the software will not create any new threats to public safety before it can be fully deployed.

Death Sentence for Penn. Torture Killer:
The Associated Press reports on a Pennsylvania jury that recommended the death penalty for murderer Melvin Knight, Thursday. Knight pleaded guilty to participating in the kidnap and torture killing of a mentally disabled woman in 2010. Knight and his accomplices bound the victim in his apartment with Christmas lights, cut off her hair, and sexually assaulted and tortured her for two days.  They then forced her to drink a mixture of human waste, bleach, and prescriptions. When she did not die, Knight stabbed the victim, then choked her with the lights. Knight and an accomplice Ricky Smyres wrapped the victim in plastic and dumped her body in a trash can. Another accomplice, Smyres then-girlfriend, Angela Marinucci, was sentenced to life in prison. Amber Meidinger, who has a child with Knight, was also a participant and is awaiting trial and a possible death sentence. Smyres, who did not enter a plea, will be tried in October.

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