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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Ind. Courts - More on: Oral arguments this afternoon before 7th Circuit in Joseph E. Corcoran’s death penalty case

Yesterday morning, Rebecca S. Green of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette previewed the oral arguments to take place that afternoon before a panel of the 7th Circuit in the State's appeal to reinstate the death penalty in the case of Joseph E. Corcoran v. Buss.

Today Green reviews the arguments, in this story. A sample:

CHICAGO – Nothing was typical about the case of convicted quadruple-murderer Joseph E. Corcoran, but whether a plea offer made by the then-Allen County prosecutor was appropriate is now a matter to be decided by a federal appellate court.

Monday afternoon, Indiana Deputy Attorney General James Martin argued that Allen County Prosecutor Robert Gevers’ offer to withdraw the death penalty during plea negotiations was within his prosecutorial discretion.

Even if that offer came with the caveat that Corcoran give up his right to a jury trial and allow a judge to decide his fate.

A three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago took up the case after Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter appealed a ruling by a federal judge overturning the death penalty, saying Gevers’ offer violated Corcoran’s constitutional rights.

The federal judge’s ruling was the latest step in years of wrangling over Corcoran’s death sentence after he was convicted of murdering his brother, his sister’s fiancé and two of his brother’s friends in July 1997.

Both sides had 30 minutes to present their arguments Monday, and as they spoke, the three judges – William J. Bauer, Ann Claire Williams and Diane Sykes – questioned the lawyers on their interpretations of the law and their arguments.

Gevers’ offer to withdraw the death penalty in exchange for a bench trial instead of a jury trial was no different than any other negotiation common when both sides try to hammer out plea agreements, Martin argued.

Listen to yesterday's oral arguments here.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 4, 2007 12:09 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions