Launch of Amicus group in Manchester

25 October 2005

Mark George, a barrister at Garden Court North Chambers, spoke at the meeting last Wednesday (19th October 2005) at BPP Law School in Oxford Street to launch an Amicus group in Manchester. There was also a screening of “Deadline: the Movie” and a proposal made for Amicus to arrange some future training in Manchester on US death penalth laws.

Mark described recent developments in death penalty law and went on to outline the current situation with over 3400 people facing execution on death row across the United States. He pointed out that many of those on death row suffer from serious mental health problems and others are on death row largely because of poor standards of representation from their lawyers in a system where attorneys doing capital cases have been paid very low rates to represent those facing a death sentence if convicted. He also described how many of those on death row are factually innocent of the crimes of which they have been convicted.

Screening of “Deadline: the Movie”

The meeting then watched a showing of the film “Deadline”  which followed the process whereby Governor Ryan of Illinois had to decide what to do about increasing evidence of the actual innocence of people on death row in that state. A class of students at Northwestern University had uncovered the first cases of actual innocence and a number of inmates were released from death row. As uncertainty about the validity of the death sentences mounted the Governor called a halt to all executions in the state whilst he considered whether in the face of this evidence of the actual innocence of at least a number of the inmates it was appropriate to continue with executions. Fearing that if he went ahead there was a real risk that an innocent man might be executed the Governor finally decided to commute all the death sentences (more than 170 in all) to ones of life imprisonment.

Amicus to schedule future training in Manchester on US death penalty law 

Following the film show a number of students in the audience from different colleges indicated their desire to know more about the work of Amicus in assisting death row lawyers in the US with their work.Amicus now hopes to be able to provide a day of training in death penalty law in Manchester. The details will be announced as soon as they are known. Anyone wishing to find our more about the work of Amicus can visit www.amicus-alj.org.

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