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High Court To Hear Magwood Death Row Appeal

Publication Date: 
March 22, 2010
Birmingham News (Alabama)
Tom Gordon

Professor Jeffrey Fisher is quoted in the Birmingham News on his representation of Billy Joe Magwood in his Death Row appeal. The core issue in this case is, if a prisoner receives a new sentence after getting his previous one thrown out, can he lawfully challenge the new sentence on the same constitutional grounds? Tom Gordon filed this story:

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Wednesday on an Alabama Death Row inmate's appeal of his death sentence.

Billy Joe Magwood, 58, has been on Death Row since June 30, 1981, for the shooting death of Coffee County Sheriff Neil Grantham on March 1, 1979, in the county jail parking lot in Elba. Only two of the state's 204 Death Row inmates have been on Death Row longer than Magwood.

Alabama Solicitor General Corey Maze will make the state's argument before the nation's highest court. Jeffrey Fisher, co-director of Stanford Law School's Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, will argue for Magwood. Both sides will be limited to 30 minutes, and Fisher said he and Maze will spend most of that time answering questions from the justices.


''The state only proved the crime,'' Fisher said Friday.


In reply, Fisher said, ''That's not what we're saying and that's not what would happen if the Supreme Court rules in our favor.''