Blog of Rights

Brian
Stull

Brian Stull is a senior staff attorney with the ACLU Capital Punishment Project. He has served as trial and appellate counsel in capital cases in North Carolina and Texas. Before joining the ACLU, Stull worked for five years at the Office of the Appellate Defender (OAD) in New York City, where he represented indigent criminal defendants convicted of serious felonies on direct appeal and in post-conviction and federal habeas corpus proceedings. Stull holds a B.A. and a M.S.W. from the University of Michigan and graduated cum laude from New York University School of Law.

The Importance of the Sixth Amendment Right to Counsel in Capital Cases

By Brian Stull, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 5:09pm

A person does not need to go any farther than a Law & Order episode to understand the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. We hear the officers on TV tell suspects that if they cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for them. The Framers of the Constitution made the statement more artfully when they wrote that the accused in every criminal prosecution “shall enjoy the right to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”

In Gideon v. Wainright, the Supreme Court explained the importance of this right, stating, “[I]n our adversary system of criminal justice, any person haled into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided for him.” The right to counsel protects all of us from being subjected to criminal prosecution in an unfair trial. But nowhere is this right more important than when the accused faces the death penalty.

Good and Bad Lawyers Determine Who Lives and Who Dies

By Brian Stull, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 12:46pm

In a separate post yesterday, I addressed how a person on death row's life can be decided on a technicality, an issue to be decided by the Supreme Court in Holland v. Florida. Today's post addresses another issue the Holland case raises —…

After 9 Years, Manuel Velez, an Innocent Man, is Free at Last

After 9 Years, Manuel Velez, an Innocent Man, is Free at Last

By Brian Stull, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 10:36am

At 12:32 p.m. ET, Manuel Velez, my client and an innocent man, stepped out of prison and into the Huntsville, Texas air a free man.

For nine years, Manuel has languished behind bars. What's ironic about watching him walk out of this particular…

Death Row is Not a "Constitution-Free Zone"

Death Row is Not a "Constitution-Free Zone"

By Brian Stull, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 2:58pm

Alfredo Prieto sits alone 23 hours a day in a locked, seventy-square-feet box. The lights never go out.

According to trial records, Prieto grew up in tough circumstances in war-torn El Salvador, escaped with his family to California. He became…

Death Penalty Maintains Racial Inequality

By Brian Stull, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 11:10am

The inauguration of Barack Obama, one day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, has prompted a healthy discussion in the nation about racial and socioeconomic inequality.

As part of that discussion it is important to point out that, just like the…

March Madness Takes on New Meaning When a Person's Skin Color is Cause For His Execution

March Madness Takes on New Meaning When a Person's Skin Color is Cause For His Execution

By Brian Stull, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 10:44am

Welcome to March Madness at the ACLU! We know you usually turn to other sources for this kind of coverage, but we've got something important to add. As you're filling out winning brackets, imagine this scenario: the tournament selection committee decides…

Jerry Guerinot: Most Dangerous Defense Attorney Ever?

By Brian Stull, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 10:32am

An article in Monday's New York Times underscores an observation we have made before: one of the biggest predictors of who gets sentenced to death has nothing to do with relevant factors such as the heinousness of the crime, the culpability of the…

Junk Fire Science: Too Scary to be Believed

Junk Fire Science: Too Scary to be Believed

By Brian Stull, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 6:07pm

It's Halloween. So what could be scarier than a state throwing a person in prison for arson when the fire was accidental?

Executing him.

That's the lesson of a report released Friday by the Texas Forensic Science Commission. The…

A Shameful Race-Based System of "Justice"

A Shameful Race-Based System of "Justice"

By Brian Stull, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 1:29pm

Studies consistently show that the best predictor of who the State executes is the color of the victim's skin.

660 Gasps for Breath, Then Death

660 Gasps for Breath, Then Death

By Brian Stull, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 1:16pm

We still don't know where the drugs came from.

We know they used midazolam and hydromorphone. We know the combination was experimental. And now we know that instead of working, the drugs took nearly two hours to kill Joseph Wood, as he snorted…

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