Elisabeth Semel

9th Circuit overturns state Supreme Court and vacates a man’s death sentence

Elisabeth Semel interviewed for Daily Journal (registration required), June 3, 2015

“The 9th Circuit has not hesitated to take on the California Supreme Court when it concludes that the high court has given short shrift to federal constitutional requirements, and did so today in Pensinger.” The circuit panel found that the omitted instruction, Semel noted, “is a constitutional necessity, not mere state law nicety.”

At high court, a new era on death penalty

Elisabeth Semel quoted in Daily Journal (registration required), April 28, 2015

“It’s important to be cautious about talking of a sea change at the Supreme Court, but in the broader view there is a very concrete acknowledgement that it’s important to explore how influenced jurors are by arguments that defendants will be a danger. This issue of future dangerousness if the defendant is not put to death is on the minds of jurors, and the court is really underscoring how decisive that argument can be.”

9th Circuit overturns death penalty

Elisabeth Semel quoted in Daily Journal (registration required), April 1, 2015

“Our clients are forced to deal with the public shame and enormous repercussions of their actions during the litigation of their case,” said Elisabeth Semel … “But it’s the norm. These are the narratives that have to be told for juries and courts to understand how the lives of our clients were derailed.”

America has a jury selection problem—and it’s killing black people

Elisabeth Semel quoted in Takepart, April 1, 2015

“White people are always thinking about getting out of [jury duty] as opposed to being excluded from it,” Semel said. “That’s a luxury. There’s a focus on the killing of African American young men by police officers, but there’s another kind of violence here, in stripping away the civil rights of people when they’re eliminated from juries based on race.”

Atty. Gen. Harris seeks to overturn ban on California executions

Elisabeth Semel quoted in Los Angeles Times, August 21, 2014

Elisabeth Semel … said it was impossible to predict what the 9th Circuit might do. She said the Supreme Court has not directly addressed the issues raised by Carney. “The court has rejected delay as a viable 8th Amendment challenge in some cases, yes, but it hasn’t done so definitively.”

9th Circuit chief judge calls for firing squads in opinion

Elisabeth Semel quoted in Daily Journal, July 22, 2014

Elisabeth A. Semel … added that Kozinski will no doubt be quoted and discussed as lawmakers come to grips with the problems inherent in the lethal injection method. “Yes, there will be more talk now in state legislatures fueled by what Judge Kozinski said,” Semel said. “Although his bigger picture message today isn’t going to alter the litigation over what is going on in Arizona.”

Ruling against death penalty based on judges’ law review articles, studies

Elisabeth Semel quoted in Daily Journal, July 18, 2014

Elisabeth A. Semel said it was important to Carney’s opinion “that he has two 9th Circuit judges to rely on who have thought carefully about the California death penalty.” Semel, the director of the school’s Death Penalty Clinic, said Kozinski in the mid-90’s gets credit “for looking forward to see it’s going to be an ever bigger mess” as more inmates were sent to death row even as the pace of executions slowed.