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Connecticut Court Rejects DP Racial Bias Claim

"The claim by five convicted killers that Connecticut's death penalty law is racially biased was rejected on Friday, almost a year after a trial in Superior Court ended and more than eight years after the case began,"  Kelly Glista reports for the Hartford Courant.

During the trial, which ran for more than 10 days from September to December last year in a makeshift courtroom inside Northern Correctional Institution in Somers, the petitioners' case depended greatly on a study by Stanford Law School professor John J. Donohue III of the state's death penalty prosecutions.

[Judge] Sferrazza wrote that not only is the generic statistical information provided by Donohue insufficient to prove racial disparity under the state's requirements, but that Donohue's conclusions were "questionable and lacked probative value."

We've seen this movie before.  Three decades ago.  The notorious Baldus Study in Georgia supposedly "found" a racial "effect" regarding the race of the victim.  The Federal District Court found, after a full trial, that the study did not show what it purported to show.  To the extent it showed anything, it showed the opposite.  Yet the study is cited and the court adjudication ignored, even by people who should know better.  See my article last year in the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law.  See also this post from 2011.

Update:  Judge Sferrazza's opinion is here, and very well done.

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