Elisabeth Semel

Elisabeth Semel and Jen Moreno Question Lethal Injection Protocol

Agence France-Presse, November 14, 2010 by Lucile Malandain

“The reason the first drug matters so much is because… if properly administered, it will put the inmate in a state of unconsciousness where he does not feel the second and third drug,” University of California, Berkeley professor Elisabeth Semel told AFP. “If you use a different drug, an unknown drug, then you don’t know whether or not it has been mixed differently, whether or not the staff has the expertise to administer it properly.”

The issue “becomes one of transparency,” Jen Moreno, another legal expert, told AFP. “The state shouldn’t be allowed to just switch drug in secret, without any sort of inquiry into whether or not it’s going to perform as intended,” she said.

Ty Alper and Elisabeth Semel Discuss Award-Winning Paper on Executions

The Daily Californian, November 4, 2010 by Katie Bender

Ty Alper will be receiving an award for writing the best article of the year within the Journal of Medical Regulation…. “What interested me in this issue is that courts were saying without any basis that doctors cannot participate,” said Alper…. “If the presence of doctors is necessary to ensure that the execution is not excruciatingly painful, then I would support the presence of doctors to make sure that the execution is humane and constitutional,” he said.

Death Penalty Clinic Director Elisabeth Semel said … Alper’s study shows “how often the three-drug execution procedure can go wrong and result in an execution that violates the Eighth Amendment” as well as “how and why the frequency of botched executions is far greater than the public and the courts understood.”

Elisabeth Semel Argues Against Death Penalty

Los Angeles Times, October 31, 2010 by Arnold Friedman

Law professor Elisabeth Semel, director of the UC Berkeley School of Law’s Death Penalty Clinic, suggests another reason for dispensing with capital punishment. The families of murder victims deserve an ending, she says. Semel is well aware of the frustration and disgust experienced by family members as they wait year after year for the killers of their loved ones to exhaust their appeals.

Elisabeth Semel Blames Politics for Rush to Execute Albert Brown

Los Angeles Times, September 28, 2010 by Elisabeth Semel

Since the last execution in California, there has been no public groundswell to get the death chamber back in business. Californians have been no less safe than they were between 1992 and 2006, when 13 men were executed. In fact, violent crimes—homicides in particular—have steadily declined during this period.

Elisabeth Semel Questions Legal Designation of Mental Retardation

ABC News, September 9, 2010 by Ariane de Vogue

Elisabeth Semel, Director of the Death Penalty Clinic at Berkley Law, questions the use of absolute numbers to determine someone’s level of mental retardation. “So many factors can contribute to the reliability or unreliability of a numerical score.” she said. “If you have this absolute as a number you can’t take into account how severely intellectually disabled someone might be.”

Elisabeth Semel Lauds Court Ruling in Batson

The Daily Journal, August 23, 2010 by Rebecca Beyer
http://www.dailyjournal.com/ (requires registration; go to G:\Law School in the News\News Clips for article)

The fact that the court is “taking very seriously a case in which only one African American juror was struck and making sure that’s treated with the same careful scrutiny as if it were 12 is very important,” Semel said. “In Batson, the court made it very clear that a strike that is motivated in substantial part by race or some other impermissible reason is just as offensive to the Constitution as striking a series of prospective jurors.”

Elisabeth Semel Condemns U.S. Death Penalty Practices

-Yahoo! News, AFP, June 16, 2010 by Allen Joseph

“The firing squad is so anachronistic… the only way to understand it is to understand the history of the death penalty in the US.”

-Discovery News, AFP, June 18, 2010

Semel believes Gardner’s execution is linked to Utah’s Mormon roots where “the idea of blood atonement is very meaningful. The idea of, if you’re committing a murder, the only way that you can genuinely demonstrate remorse and be adequately punished is by showing your own blood,” she said.

-Telegraph.co.uk, June 18, 2010 by Nick Allen

Elisabeth Semel, director of the Death Penalty Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, said: “It’s difficult to understand the issue of how can we still be engaged in this form of barbarism.”

Elisabeth Semel Inspires College Student Melinda Haag to Study Law

The Daily Journal, May 12, 2010
http://www.dailyjournal.com/ (requires registration; go to G:\Law School in the News\News Clips for article)

When Hagg was a senior in college in the early 1980s, she worked as an assistant for a criminal defense attorney in San Diego. She brought him lunch and made copies but also happened to see a young female defense attorney representing a co-defendant in one of her boss’s murder cases. That attorney, Elisabeth A. Semel, now heads the Death Penalty Clinic at UC Berkeley School of Law. Haag said Semel inspired her to go to law school.

Elisabeth Semel Says High Court Often Agrees on Mistakes in Death Penalty Cases

The Washington Post, December 18, 2009 by Robert Barnes and Maria Glod

To Berman and Elisabeth Semel, director of the death penalty clinic at the University of California at Berkeley’s law school, it makes sense that the court, divided on many aspects of capital punishment, takes the chance to present a united front when it sees examples of mistakes in death penalty cases that all justices agree on.