1400 Washington AveAlbanyNY
1400 Washington AveAlbanyNY

New York State Assembly Death Penalty Hearings Collection

1965-2005

PDF Version

Abstract

The Death Penalty in New York Testimony Collections gathers the testimonials given by 137 witnesses to several committees of the New York State Assembly having to do with sentences involving the death penalty.

Summary

Creator:
New York (State). Assembly
Date Coverage:
1965-2005
Quantity:
1.6 cubic ft.

The Death Penalty in New York Testimony Collection was collected as part of a partnership between the Capital Punishment Research Initiative (CPRI) at the University at Albany's School of Criminal Justice and the University at Albany Libraries. The CPRI, headed by Professors James Acker and Charles Lanier, donated this material in an effort to provide researchers with full coverage of the hearings.

As explained in Death Penalty in New York, A Report on Five Public Hearings (pages 1-4), the New York State Assembly Standing Committees on Codes, Judiciary and Correction held a succession of public hearings in December 2004 through February 2005 on the death penalty in New York in reaction to the June 24, 2004, decision by the New York Court of Appeals to strike down the New York's capital punishment law enacted in 1995. The decision, rendered in People v. LaValle, struck down New York's "deadlock" instruction provision, which had been proposed by Governor Pataki and passed by the New York State Senate in 1995. The "deadlock" instruction provision ordered juries to be instructed that they give one of only two sentencing options, death or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole and that they be further instructed that in the event of a jury deadlock that the defendant would be sentenced to a minimum of 20-25 year and a maximum of life imprisonment. It was the decision that jurors might feel coerced into choosing the death penalty to avoid the court deciding to give a defendant a minimum 20-25 year sentence.

When the New York Court of Appeals struck down the "deadlock" provision it completely forbade the operation of the death penalty. However, the Court did agree that life without the possibility of parole was a fair alternative sentence. The decision by the New York Court of Appeals left the New York State Assembly the charge to enact legislation that would reinstate the death penalty, modify the death penalty, or abolish the death penalty. The committees acknowledged that the death penalty in New York had been ineffective. The committees recognized that in the ten years since the law was enacted more than $170 million had been spent in pursuit of death penalty cases, yet no one was executed. In total, four sentences were struck down by the New York Court of Appeals, one sentence was converted to life without parole, and two cases were still in the sentencing process. The committees noted that numerous death row exonerations due to DNA testing had been occurring in the previous ten years and also observed a change in public opinion. The New York State Assembly Standing Committees on Codes, Judiciary and Correction decided that it would formally review New York's death penalty law including its history, the needs of defendants, and the wishes of constituents.

The committees heard oral testimony from 146 witnesses and read written testimony from another 24 witnesses, both of which combined to more than 4,000 transcribed pages. The documents in this collection, however, do not give an indication of the New York State Assembly Standing Committees on Codes, Judiciary and Correction's final decision about capital punishment in New York State. However, the Death Penalty Information Center (http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org) indicates that the Assembly did vote to eliminate the death penalty on April 12, 2005. To read the text of Bill A00851, which repeals the death penalty in New York State, see the laws on the New York State Assembly's web site (http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg).

The Death Penalty in New York Testimony Collection includes testimony given to the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Codes, Assembly Standing Committee on Judiciary, and Assembly Standing Committee on Correction, on December 14, 2004, January 21 and 25, 2005, and February 8 and 11, 2005. The collection includes testimony from 137 witnesses, including officials from grass roots organizations, practicing lawyers, law professors, concerned citizens, religious leaders, former inmates, and families of victims. The collection also includes the Public Hearing reports for each day of hearings, recorded verbatim; a copy of the 1965 Committee for the Revision of the Penal and Criminal Legal Code Special Report on Capital Punishment; and an amicus brief ("friend of the court"), People v. McCoy, filed by Stewart F. Hancock.

This collection lacks biographical information about most of the witnesses, as well as the New York Assembly Committee members. It also lacks a comprehensive timeline for the final decision of the New York State Assembly Committee.

Related collections in the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives can be found in the subject guides for the National Death Penalty Archive and Criminal Justice and Prisons.

The collection is organized into the following series:

Series 1 is arranged chronologically by date of hearing and alphabetically by name. Series 2 is arranged chronologically.

All items in this manuscript group were donated to the University Libraries, M.E. Grenander Department Special Collections and Archives, by Charles Lanier, of the School of Criminal Justice, the University at Albany, SUNY.

Processed by: Sean Heather McGraw

Collection record created by: This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on

Published: 2017-04-14 11:02:28 -0400

Encoded in EAD by Cassandra Krom, 2012

Archival materials can be view in-person during business hours in our reading room, located on the top floor of the Science Library on the Uptown Campus.

We can also deliver digital scans for remote research for a fee.

Access to this record group is unrestricted.

Copyright Statement

The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, New York State Assembly Death Penalty Hearings Collection, 1965-2005. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as [shortened name]).

Contents of Collection

Quantity: 0.6 cubic ft.

Arranged chronologically by date of hearing and alphabetically by name.

This series contains copies of handwritten testimony and the original typewritten testimony of 137 witnesses, including published articles submitted as testimony by University at Albany School of Criminal Justice professors, James Acker and Charles Lanier. Other witnesses include: Dr. Alice Green, Albany human rights activist; Hon. Robert Morgenthau, District Attorney of New York County; Bill Babbitt, brother of executed death row inmate Manny Babbitt; David Kaczynski, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty and brother of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski; Robert Meeropol, son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg; and Bishop Dominick Lagonegro of the Archdiocese of New York. A complete list of witnesses can be found in the Box and Folder List.

BoxFolderContentsDate

77e44f4bea05f8602a14a386009ef509

1 1Witness Testimony A-F2004 December 15
    

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  Bill Babbitt, Family Member of executed death row inmate Manny Babbitt
    

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  David Baldus, Professor of Law, University of Iowa College of Law
    

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  Robert Blecker, Professor, New York Law School
    

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  Camille D’Arienzo, Co-Founder, The Cherish Life Circle, Brooklyn
    

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  James E. Fitzgerald, Minister for Social Justice, Riverside Church, New York City
    

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  Eric M. Freedman, Hofstra University

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1 2Witness Testimony G-Z2004 December 15
    

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  Isaiah S. Gant, Federal Capital Resource Counsel
    

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  Ernest Shujaa Graham, Campaign to End the Death Penalty
    

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  Madison Hobley, Exonerated Death Row Prisoner
    

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  Dominick J. Lagonegro, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of New York
    

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  N. J. L’Heureaux, Executive Director, Queens Federation of Churches
    

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  Robert M. Morgenthau, District Attorney, New York County
    

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  Russell Neufeld, Defense Attorney
    

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  Patricia J. Perry, Family Member of Police Officer
    

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  Barry C. Scheck, Co-Director, Innocence Project
    

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  S. Jean Smith, The Cherish Life Circle, Brooklyn
    

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  Thomas P. Sullivan, Ryan Commission, Jenner & Block
    

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  Christina Swarns, NAACP Legal Defense Fund

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1 3Witness Testimony A-H2005 January 21
    

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  Xavier Amador, Columbia University
    

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  Ursula Bentele, Professor, Brooklyn Law School
    

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  Colleen Brady, Legal Aid Society, New York City
    

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  Chloe Breyer, Associate Minister, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
    

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  Jeffrey Fagan, Professor, Columbia University
    

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  Bennett L. Gershman, Professor, Pace University Law School
    

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  Marc A. Gruber, Reform Jewish Voice of New York State
    

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  William E. Hellerstein, Professor, Brooklyn Law School
    

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  Clare Laura Hogenauer, Attorney
    

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  Ron Honberg, Legal Director, National Alliance for the Mentally Ill

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1 4Witness Testimony I-Z2005 January 21
    

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  Christine Japely, Assistant Professor, Norfolk Community College
    

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  Jeffrey Kirchmer, Association of the Bar of the City of New York
    

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  James S. Liebman, Professor, Columbia University School of Law
    

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  Evan J. Mandery, Assistant Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
    

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  Jim Morgan, Convenor, Vigil to End the Death Penalty, Brooklyn
    

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  Michael B. Mushlin, Professor, Pace University Law School
    

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  Michael J. Palladino, President, Detectives’ Endowment Association, Inc.
    

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  Robert Perry, Legislative Director, New York Civil Liberties Union
    

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  Bettina B. Plevan, President, Association of the Bar of the City of New York
    

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  Dorit Radzin, Advocacy Associate, Human Rights Watch
    

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  Edward Rodriguez, Associate Professor, Seton Hall University
    

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  Sundiata Sadiq, 1st Vice President, NAACP, Ossining Chapter
    

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  William F. Schulz, Executive Director, Amnesty International USA
    

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  Ron Stalling, Retired Officer, Uniformed Division of U.S. Secret Service
    

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  Robert J. Walker, Brethren Church
    

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  Patricia Webdale, Mother of Murder Victim
    

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  Hal Weiner, Convenor, St. Saviour Chapter Episcopal Peace Fellowship
    

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  Evelyn Wyfka, Sister to Sister, Human Rights

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1 5Witness Testimony A-M2005 January 25
    

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  James R. Acker, Professor, School of Criminal Justice, University at Albany, SUNY
    

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  John H. Blume, Cornell University Law School
    

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  Linda Chidsey, Clerk of Yearly Meeting, New York Religious Society of Friends
    

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  Richard C. Dieter, Death Penalty Information Center
    

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  Samuel J.M. Donnelly, Professor, Syracuse University School of Law
    

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  Sonia Ivette Dueno, Racial Economic & Gender Justice Fellowship Reconciliation
    

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  William J. Fitzpatrick, Onondaga County District Attorney
    

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  Diane-Marie C. Frappier, Concerned Citizen
    

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  Stephen P. Garvey, Cornell University Law School
    

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  Bruce Grieshaber, Parent of Murder Victim
    

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  Janice Grieshaber, Parent of Murder Victim
    

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  Michael C. Green, Monroe County District Attorney
    

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  Stewart F. Hancock, Jr., Retired Justice, New York State Court of Appeals
    

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  Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, Roman Catholic Bishop of Albany
    

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  Debra Jaeger, Sister of Murder Victim
    

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  Sheri Lynn Johnson, Cornell University Law School
    

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  David Kaczynski, New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty
    

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  Kathryn M. Kase, Texas Defender Association
    

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  Ruth S. Klepper, Executive Director, Interfaith Impact of New York State
    

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  Karen E. Mallam, Poughkeepsie Religious Society of Friends
    

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  Marguerite Marsh, Family Member of Murder Victim
    

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  Carolyn McCarthy, United States Representative, D-NY, 4th Congressional District
    

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  Bishop Jack M. McKelvey, Episcopal Diocese of Rochester
    

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  Russell Murphy, Professor, Suffolk University School of Law

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1 6Witness Testimony N-Z2005 January 25, Undated
    

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  Roy Neville, Member, Board of Directors, National Alliance on Mental Illness, New York State
    

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  Lillian Roberts, Director Labor Union, District Council 37, New York City
    

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  Lillian Rodriguez-Lopez, President, Hispanic Federation
    

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  George Rosquist, Executive Director, Freedom Now
    

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  Stephen Saloom, Policy Director, Innocence Project
    

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  Ajamu K. Sankofa, New York City Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility
    

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  James Coy Sheehan, Priest, Archdiocese of New York
    

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  Stephen Singer, Co-Chair, Criminal Courts Committee, Queens County Bar Association
    

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  Scott Turow, Attorney
    

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  Eugene G. Wanger, Michigan Committee Against Capital Punishment
    

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  Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York
    

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  Jonathan D. Zimet, Supreme Court, New York County

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1 7Witness Testimony A-L January 25 and February 82005 2005
    

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  Robert K. Corliss, Associate Director for Criminal Justice, National Alliance on Mental Illness, New York State
    

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  Rudy Cypser, CURE-NY
    

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  Hazel N. Dukes, President, New York State NAACP
    

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  Louise de Leeuw, Poughkeepsie Monthly Meeting of the Religious Soc. of Friends
    

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  Jose A. Garcia, Policy Analyst, Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund
    

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  Alice Green, Executive Director, Center for Law and Justice, Inc.
    

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  Samuel R. Gross, Professor of Law, University of Michigan
    

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  Jeff Frayler, President, New York State Association of PBAs, Inc.
    

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  Richard Harcrow, President, New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association
    

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  Evan Kelley, Capital Punishment Seminar, Fall 2004
    

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  Charles S. Lanier, Co-Director, Capital Punishment Research Initiative, University at Albany, SUNY
    

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  Alexander Lesyk, Northern Franklin County Public Defender

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2 1Witness Testimony A-F2005 February 8
    

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  Gary Abramson, Legal Aid Society of Orange County
    

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  Barbara Berry, Tompkins County Coalition Against the Death Penalty
    

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  Geoffrey Black, President, New York State Council of Churches
    

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  William Bowers, Professor, Capital Jury Project, Northeastern University
    

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  Ann M. Brandon, League of Women Voters of New York State
    

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  Sean M. Byrne, Executive Director, New York Prosecutors Training Institute
    

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  Dominic Candido, Clerk, Matinecock Monthly Meeting, Religious Society of Friends
    

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  Robert M. Carney, District Attorney, Schenectady County
    

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  Scott Christianson, Author
    

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  Cheryl Coleman, Former Albany County Assistant District Attorney and former Albany City Court Judge
    

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  John Dunne, Former New York State Senator and Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice

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2 2Witness Testimony G-Z February 82005 2005
    

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  Wanda Goldstein, Restorative Justice Group, Unitarian Universalists, Kingston
    

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  Jonathan E. Gradess, New York State Defenders Association
    

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  Daniel B. Hahn, Director, Lutheran Statewide Advocacy
    

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  Lee Haring, Religious Society of Friends, Oswego
    

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  Raymond A. Kelly, Jr., New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
    

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  George H. Kendall, Senior Counsel, Holland & Knight
    

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  John Marsh, Unitarian Universalists for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, Utica
    

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  Robert Meeropol, Rosenberg Fund for Children
    

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  Anita Paul, Religious Society of Friends, Schenectady
    

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  John Restivo, Exonerated Death Row Prisoner
    

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  Ronald J. Tabak, New York Lawyers Against the Death Penalty
    

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  Marsha Weissman, Executive Director, Center for Community Alternatives
    

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  Michael Whiteman, Former Counsel to Governors Nelson Rockefeller and Malcolm Wilson
    

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  Barbara Zaron, Reform Jewish Voice of New York State

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2 3Witness Testimony February 112005 2005
    

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  Catherine M. Abate, Former New York State Senator, Commissioner of Corrections
    

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  Myron Beldock, Lawyer for Yusef Salaam
    

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  Bell Gale Chevigny, Professor Emerita, Purchase College
    

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  Stephen Dalsheim, Superintendent (ret.), Sing Sing and Downstate Correctional Facilities
    

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  George R. Goltzer, Board of Directors, New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
    

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  Mark Green, Former New York City Public Advocate, President New Democracy Project
    

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  Linda Guillebeaux, Free Mumia Abu Jamal Coalition, New York Chapter
    

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  Bianca Jagger, Goodwill Ambassador for the Fight Against the Death Penalty
    

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  Darryl P. King, Darryl King Defense Committee
    

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  William Mordhorst, Concerned Citizen
    

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  Lawrence C. Moss, Democratic State Committee
    

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  John Payne, President, New York State Chapter Democrats for Life
    

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  Frederic Pratt, Legal Aid Society Capital Division
    

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  James A. Rogers, President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys
    

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  Sharonne Salaam, People United for Children
    

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  Yusef Salaam, Former Inmate
    

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  Liliana Segura, Campaign to End the Death Penalty
    

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  Leonara Wengraf, Campaign to End the Death Penalty
Quantity: 1.0 cubic ft.

Arranged chronologically.

This series includes the reports from each hearing day, published by the New York Assembly Standing Committee on Codes, Assembly Standing Committee on Judiciary, and Assembly Standing Committee on Correction. The final reports, compiled from the proceedings of all five days of testimony, are also included. The series also includes two amicus briefs, People v. McCoy and People v. Cahill, filed by Stewart F. Hancock. An amicus brief, a brief filed by "a friend of the court," is filed to advise the court in its consideration of the case. Hancock is a retired Justice of the New York State Court of Appeals and was asked by the group People Against the Death Penalty, Central New York, to file an amicus brief for consideration by the New York Court of Appeals using the cases of the People v. Cahill and People v. McCoy to demonstrate support for commuting death sentences to life without parole.

This series also includes a published booklet by the Capital Punishment Committee of Michigan about the New York hearings, entitled A Guide to the New York Death Penalty Hearings, 2004-2005. This booklet, which lists witness names, was written by Eugene G. Wanger, who also testified. Finally, also in this series is the 1965 Committee for the Revision of the Penal and Criminal Legal Code Special Report on Capital Punishment.

BoxFolderContentsDate

df360077c39082e5ade6dd23cb0581af

3 1New York State Assembly Standing Committees on Codes, Judiciary, Corrections, Public Hearing on the Death Penalty, December 15, 2004, Part 12004

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3 2New York State Assembly Standing Committees on Codes, Judiciary, Corrections, Public Hearing on the Death Penalty, December 15, 2004, Part 22004

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3 3New York State Assembly Standing Committees on Codes, Judiciary, Corrections, Public Hearing on the Death Penalty, January 21, 2005, Part 12005

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3 4New York State Assembly Standing Committees on Codes, Judiciary, Corrections, Public Hearing on the Death Penalty, January 21, 2005, Part 22005

d1e93a8cf202527ad6d99319026f7124

3 5New York State Assembly Standing Committees on Codes, Judiciary, Corrections, Public Hearing on the Death Penalty, January 25, 2005, Part 12005

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3 6New York State Assembly Standing Committees on Codes, Judiciary, Corrections, Public Hearing on the Death Penalty, January 25, 2005, Part 22005

dcdc23972eae314bf69ef8b3040b976b

3 7New York State Assembly Standing Committees on Codes, Judiciary, Corrections, Public Hearing on the Death Penalty, February 8, 2005, Part 12005

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3 8New York State Assembly Standing Committees on Codes, Judiciary, Corrections, Public Hearing on the Death Penalty, February 8, 2005, Part 22005

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3 9New York State Assembly Standing Committees on Codes, Judiciary, Corrections, Public Hearing on the Death Penalty, February 11, 20052005

ca391732bdaa116a9c44a7bdaf752094

3 10Amici Briefs, People v. Cahill and People v. McCoy, Stewart F. Hancock, Jr., 20032003

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3 11Amici Briefs, People v. McCoy, Supplemental Brief, Stewart F. Hancock, Jr., 20032003

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3 12The Death Penalty in New York, A Report on Five Public Hearings, New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Codes, Judiciary, Corrections, 2004-2005, released April 20052004-2005

2bdc5938c2a886b9a03df9d28b22e39b

3 13Guide to the New York Assembly Death Penalty Hearings 2004-2005, Eugene G. Wanger, Michigan Committee Against Capital Punishment2004-2005

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3 14State of New York, Temporary Commission on Revision of the Penal Law and Criminal Code Special Report on Capital Punishment, 19651965