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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ind. Decisions - "Corcoran death sentence upheld"

Updating this ILB entry from Nov. 8th, Rebecca S. Green of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has a long story today on the procedural intricacies of the death penalty case. It begins:

Overturning the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively reinstated the death penalty against convicted killer Joseph Corcoran.

It was the second time in just over a year the nation’s highest court slapped down a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals’ 7th Circuit, this time saying the appellate court reviewed Corcoran’s case without evidence of any violation of his constitutional rights.

For now, the decision puts the death penalty back on track for Corcoran, whose case has wound its way through the state and federal courts since his 1999 Allen Superior Court conviction for the murders of four people.

According to Bryan Corbin, spokesman for the Indiana Attorney General’s Office, the recent ruling points out the complexity of death penalty cases and safeguards in the state’s criminal justice system.

More from the story:
In the seven-page ruling handed down Tuesday, the Supreme Court said the 7th Circuit erred when it said the sentencing order violated state law, which the state’s highest courts said it did not. Federal courts cannot review state court cases because of allegations of state law violations, only for violations of federal law, according to court documents.

“The (7th Circuit’s) opinion contained no hint that it thought the violation of Indiana law it had unearthed also entailed the infringement of any federal right,” according to the Supreme Court opinion. “It was improper for the Court of Appeals to (review the case) without first concluding that a violation of federal law had been established.”

Corcoran may attempt to have the U.S. Supreme Court again review the case, Corbin said.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 11, 2010 09:31 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions