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Murder Appeals, Delayed Executions, and the Origins of Jamaican Death Penalty Jurisprudence.pdf (380.52 kB)
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Murder appeals, delayed executions, and the origins of Jamaican death penalty jurisprudence

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journal contribution
posted on 2014-10-28, 16:40 authored by James Michael Campbell
Beginning with Pratt and Morgan v. The Attorney General of Jamaica (1993), the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council has issued a series of judgments in death penalty appeals that have significantly restricted the number of executions in the Commonwealth Caribbean and proved politically controversial in the region. This article examines the historical context for two issues that have been central to the Judicial Committee’s decisions: delays in the enforcement of capital sentences and the relationship between executive clemency and the courts. It does so through analysis of death penalty appeals and clemency proceedings in mid-twentieth century murder cases when reforms to the Jamaica Supreme Court allowed convicted criminals the right of appeal for the first time. These cases show that the practice of sparing convicts from the gallows due to delayed executions has deep local roots in Jamaica that stem not only from the decisions of British law lords and politicians in London and colonial administrators and judges in Kingston, but also Jamaican lawyers, prisoners and politicians who agitated in support of the right of criminal appeal and subsequently used that right to fight capital sentences in the courts. Moreover, they reveal that the clemency process in Jamaican death penalty cases was reformulated following the introduction of criminal appeals in ways that blurred traditional distinctions between mercy and law.



Law and History Review (2014) in press

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/Organisation/COLLEGE OF ARTS, HUMANITIES AND LAW/School of History


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Law and History Review (2014) in press


Cambridge University Press (CUP)





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