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SCOTUS declines death row inmate's appeal

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The nation's highest court has declined to accept a death row inmate's case, leaving intact an Indiana judge's ruling that OK'd a federal prison policy banning face-to-face interviews with reporters.

In an order list issued today, the Supreme Court of the United States indicated that during its March 5 conference it denied certiorari in David Paul Hammer v. John D. Ashcroft, et al., No. 09-504, which involves the federal prison inmate being housed in Terre Haute. Even though a federal judge tossed David Paul Hammer's sentence in 2005, he remains on death row as the government is still deciding whether to re-seek execution.

The appeal involved Hammer's challenge to a policy adopted by the U.S. Attorney, which banned death row inmates from conducting in-person interviews with the media after Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh in 2000 appeared on "60 Minutes." Hammer sued in 2004, and in February 2006 then-U.S. District Judge John D. Tinder in Indianapolis granted summary judgment against him. A 7th Circuit panel reversed that decision in 2008, but last summer the full court affirmed Judge Tinder - who by then was elevated to the appellate bench but didn't participate in this decision. Attorneys appealed to the SCOTUS in October, but justices declined to intervene in the prison free-speech case even though 23 news media organizations had urged them to hear the case.

Originally sentenced to die in 1998 for the April 1996 strangling death of his cellmate, Hammer has been appealing that death sentence for a decade. He's gotten national attention for not only his appeals but also his prison behavior through the years. An insulin-dependent diabetic, Hammer attempted suicide the night before McVeigh's execution in 2001 by injecting insulin directly into his veins; later that year he also went on a hunger strike and refused food and insulin because of visitation problems.

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  1. Indianapolis Bar Association President John Trimble and I are on the same page, but it is a very large page with plenty of room for others to join us. As my final Res Gestae article will express in more detail in a few days, the Great Recession hastened a fundamental and permanent sea change for the global legal service profession. Every state bar is facing the same existential questions that thrust the medical profession into national healthcare reform debates. The bench, bar, and law schools must comprehensively reconsider how we define the practice of law and what it means to access justice. If the three principals of the legal service profession do not recast the vision of their roles and responsibilities soon, the marketplace will dictate those roles and responsibilities without regard for the public interests that the legal profession professes to serve.

  2. I have met some highly placed bureaucrats who vehemently disagree, Mr. Smith. This is not your father's time in America. Some ideas are just too politically incorrect too allow spoken, says those who watch over us for the good of their concept of order.

  3. Lets talk about this without forgetting that Lawyers, too, have FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND ASSOCIATION

  4. Baer filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit on April 30 2015. When will this be decided? How many more appeals does this guy have? Unbelievable this is dragging on like this.

  5. They ruled there is no absolute right to keep a license, whether it be for a lifetime or a short period of time. So with that being said, this state taught me at the age of 15 how to obtain that license. I am actually doing something that I was taught to do, I'm not breaking the law breaking the rules and according to the Interstate Compact the National Interstate Compact...driving while suspended is a minor offense. So, do with that what you will..Indiana sucks when it comes to the driving laws, they really and truly need to reevaluate their priorities and honestly put the good of the community first... I mean, what's more important the pedophile drug dealer or wasting time and money to keep us off the streets?

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