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Nebraska’s Death Row Prisoners Must Bring ‘Repeal Challenges’ Individually

by Douglas Ankney

The Supreme Court of Nebraska has dismissed on technical grounds a lawsuit filed by eight death-row prisoners represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLU”).  The suit alleged the death sentences of Nebraska’s death-row prisoners must be converted to life sentences because the Nebraska Legislature repealed capital punishment in 2015. The Court recently ruled that each prisoner must raise the issue in proceedings available to him.

In 2016, the people of Nebraska voted to reinstate capital punishment. But the ACLU said the repeal was enacted long enough to require that the sentences be converted to life.

“Today’s ruling does not resolve our clients’ claims that, after the Legislature’s 2015 repeal of the death penalty, they no longer may be executed,” said Danielle Conrad, executive director of the ACLU of Nebraska. “We look forward to resolution of those claims in the individual post-conviction proceedings the court has ruled each prisoner must undertake.”

The prisoners also claim the petition drive to reinstate capital punishment was invalid. Governor Pete Ricketts financed the drive, which prisoners argue violated constitutional separation of powers.

Nebraska’s death row had 12 prisoners in January 2019. 

In August 2018, the state carried out its first execution in more than 20 years. 

Source: Omaha World-Herald

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