Blog of Rights


Denny LeBoeuf is the director of the ACLU's John Adams Project, assisting in the defense of the capitally charged Guantánamo detainees. Previously, she served as the director of the ACLU Capital Punishment Project, which works toward the end of the death penalty by supporting repeal and reform with public education, advocacy and targeted litigation. She has been a capital defender for over 20 years, representing persons facing death at trial and in post-conviction in state and federal courts, and she teaches and consults with capital defense teams nationally. LeBoeuf holds a J.D. from Tulane University and a B.A. from Hunter College.

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Killing the Mentally Ill

Killing the Mentally Ill

By Denny LeBoeuf, Capital Punishment Project at 4:00pm

Reading today’s editorial in the New York Times led me to ask: when will our country finally stop the execution of the severely mentally ill?

The editorial rightly praises Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who on Tuesday provided at least a…

Lady Justice Rolls the Dice: the Death Penalty is "Random Horror"

By Denny LeBoeuf, Capital Punishment Project at 5:19pm

The death penalty is supposed to be for the worst of the worst. The system of capital punishment in the United States has always assumed it was so, from its beginnings. Not all crimes may be punished with death, and not all trials for death-eligible…

The Confederate Flag, Never Proud, No Longer Waves at Shreveport Courthouse

By Denny LeBoeuf, Capital Punishment Project at 4:43pm

The confederate flag, deliberately adopted as a symbol of white race domination and control, no longer flies on the steps of the Shreveport, Louisiana courthouse. Last week, Caddo Parish commissioners voted 11-1 to take it down, after litigation…

Forty Years after Furman: Still "Fastened to the Obsolete"

Forty Years after Furman: Still "Fastened to the Obsolete"

By Denny LeBoeuf, Capital Punishment Project at 11:15am

We celebrate this day 40 years ago, when the Supreme Court, in Furman v. Georgia, declared the death penalty unconstitutional.

The Court divided in 1972 as it had never done before. Nine Justices wrote nine separate opinions, with a majority…

The Face of Exclusion and the Racial Justice Act

By Denny LeBoeuf, Capital Punishment Project at 6:18pm

There’s a simple assumption at the heart of North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act (RJA), which allows death row inmates to present statistical evidence to support the contention that race discrimination played a part in their case and…

Uncle Sam's Drug-Seeking Behavior

Uncle Sam's Drug-Seeking Behavior

By Denny LeBoeuf, Capital Punishment Project at 10:52am

This summer, travelers should be on the lookout for some new American drug addicts, slouching around the foreign capitals where Americans abroad seek to score. They are a little older than most of the druggies, and they aren't looking to get high.…

A Nun and a Movie Star Walk Into a Bar...

A Nun and a Movie Star Walk Into a Bar...

By Denny LeBoeuf, Capital Punishment Project at 12:18pm

Okay, it was a restaurant, in New Orleans, where Sister Helen Prejean ate crawfish with Susan Sarandon and the movie "Dead Man Walking" was birthed. Listen to 2 very funny minutes of Sister Helen talking about this meeting.

But before there…

Time to Confess Error on the Death Penalty

By Denny LeBoeuf, Capital Punishment Project at 4:16pm

Yesterday at the Supreme Court, a New Orleans prosecutor defended the conviction of a man despite the admitted failure of her office to turn over evidence they were required to provide to his defense team. This fraudulently obtained conviction was…

The Man Who Wasn't There

By Denny LeBoeuf, Capital Punishment Project at 5:47pm

(Originally posted on Daily Kos.)

Monday's hearing in the Guantánamo Military Commission prosecution of the alleged 9/11 plotters was expected to address the now-familiar allegations of improper command influence by Brigadier General Thomas Hartmann, who has already been excluded from three other commission trials for politicizing his legal advice in favor of the prosecution. But if there's one thing we've learned to expect about these military commissions, it's that nothing goes according to plan. In that regard, Monday didn't disappoint.

At 9 a.m., when proceedings were scheduled to begin, one seat was noticeably empty: Ramzi bin al-Shibh's. The other four so-called "High-Value Detainees" were there, as were their military and civilian lawyers and advisors, the prosecutors, the many guards, and the unnamed and never-identified civilian contractors who control security. But bin al-Shibh was nowhere in sight.

For the next 90 minutes, the defendants spoke to their "co-counsel" (three of the detainees are representing themselves) and to each other. Then a recess was announced. There was no explanation.

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