Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law

OSJCL Amici Board of Advisors

OSJCL Amici: Views from the Field

Harbison v. Bell

  • The argument was heard on January 12, 2009.
  • Issue: The issue in Harbison is whether the Terrorist Death Penalty Enhancement Act provides prisoners sentenced under state law the right to federally appointed and funded counsel to pursue clemency under state law, and whether a district court’s denial of such a request may be appealed without a certificate of appealability.
  • Background: The defendant, Edward Harbison, has been on death row since 1985, when he was convicted of first-degree murder for the murder of Edith Russell, a sixty-two year old woman. Harbison confessed to the murder in a taped statement, explaining that he believed she had a gun, but he later argued that the confession was coerced. In this case, Harbison is asking the court to allow counsel from the Federal Defender Services to represent him in his state clemency proceedings.



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