Anthony Amsterdam

Recent Articles

Courtroom Contortions

One cost this country pays for the death penalty is that its courts are constantly compelled to corrupt the law in order to uphold death sentences. That corruption soils the character of the United States as a nation dedicated to equal justice under law. This is not the only price we pay for being one of the very few democracies in the world that retains capital punishment in the 21st century. But it is a significant item on the cost side of the cost-benefit ledger, something that each thinking person ought to balance in deciding whether he or she supports capital punishment. And it warrants discussion because this cost is little understood. I have spent much of my time for the past 40 years representing death-sentenced inmates in appeals at every level of the state and federal judicial systems, and I am only lately coming to realize how large a tax the death penalty imposes on the quality of justice in those systems. The western face of the U.S. Supreme Court building bears the motto...