Sam Hallam and the death penalty

12 May 2012

Garden Court North Chambers’ Mark George QC has written a blog for online magazine The Justice Gap considering the Sam Hallam miscarriage (Sam Hallam was released today following the Criminal Case Review Commission’s referral to the Court of Appeal – he had been convicted of murder in 2005).

In the blog, Mark considers what would have happened to Sam Hallam if we had still had the death penalty in England.

“If we had still had the death penalty in the UK it is a sure-fire bet that Sam Hallam would have been dead now for several years.”

Mark also refers to a US death penalty case, where a report out this week indicates there was again a case of mistaken identity:

“By a curious coincidence on the same day as the Court of Appeal announcement in Sam Hallam’™s case a story broke in the United States that is one that will haunt supporters of the death penalty in that country. After a painstaking four-year period of research by Professor Liebman and a group of students at Columbia Law School, they have produced a lengthy report which seems to establish beyond any reasonable doubt that Carlos DeLuna executed in the state of Texas in 1989 for murder was the victim of a simple mistaken identity. The real killer, a man called Carlos Hernandez was so similar in appearance that even DeLuna’s sister could not tell them apart from some photographs she saw. The prosecution said DeLuna was lying and no such man as Hernandez even existed.”

Mark George QC is a barrister and Head of Chambers at Garden Court North Chambers.

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