The Hartford Courant reports, "Death Penalty Bias Case Heats Up, Even After Trial Is Long Over," by Jon Lender. Here's an extended excerpt from the beginning of the article:
Eight years and millions of taxpayer dollars after it began, the end is finally near in a habeas corpus lawsuit by five convicted killers who claim that Connecticut's death penalty is racially, ethnically and geographically biased. The trial in the case concluded six months ago, and a ruling is expected by fall.
The end phrase of a lawsuit is often a time of quiet before the decision — but this case is actually growing louder.
In recent days, David S. Golub — the lead attorney for the death-row inmates who are seeking to have their death sentences converted to life sentences without parole — fired a verbal salvo.
He told The Courant that he'd filed legal papers last month saying that the state's statistical expert witness, who has been paid more than $1 million so far, ended up agreeing with the inmates' claim that, in Golub's words, "there are statistically significant racial and other disparities in death penalty prosecutions in Connecticut."
"This is a stunning admission by the state's own expert witness that was never revealed until the time of trial," said Golub, of Stamford. Golub represents death row inmate Sedrick Cobb, convicted of capital felony, kidnapping, murder, sexual assault and robbery in a 1989 attack on Julia Ashe, 23, of Watertown.
However, the expert in question, Stephan Michelson of North Carolina, disputed Golub. He told The Courant that Golub's statement was inaccurate because it made too much of his agreement with narrow conclusions of the inmates' expert statistical witness, Stanford Law School professor John J. Donohue III, who also has been hired at taxpayer expense.
"What Golub says is so obliquely related to the case that one must know he has no evidence supporting the [inmates'] actual claims in the case," Michelson said. "I can't say what Golub hopes to achieve. My guess would be that he is trying to prepare the public to be angry at the judge, who will surely find that Golub has not proved his case."
Superior Court Judge Samuel J. Sferrazza is expected to issue a final ruling by fall. The office of Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane, which has represented the state and opposed the inmates' claims of bias, has until July 1 to file its final brief.
Earlier coverage of the Connecticut racial bias trial begins at the link. Connecticut repealed its death penalty last year, but left those currently on death row under sentence of death.