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Ohio Adult Parole Authority v. Woodard

Safeguarding Against Irresponsible Clemency

Justice O'Connor concurred in part with the judgment. She took some exception, however, with the idea that a death-row inmate's interest in life had been extinguished. She felt that although clemency had always been an executive privilege, and not the business of the judiciary, some "minimal procedural safeguards apply to clemency proceedings." She reasoned that the courts may be correct in intervening, for example, when the clemency procedure involved "a state official [flipping] a coin." She believed that Ohio's clemency process violated Woodard's rights and was joined by Justices Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer in that finding.

In his lone dissent Justice Stevens, in agreement with Justice O'Connor, differed with the Chief Justice's reasoning and conclusions on the due process question. He agreed with Woodard that Dumschat was not the proper controlling precedent since that case was concerned with only a liberty interest, not a life interest. He further contended that a death-row inmate does retain a "continuing life interest" which should be protected by the Due Process Clause. He agreed with the majority that Woodard's Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination were not violated by the clemency interview process.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1995 to PresentOhio Adult Parole Authority v. Woodard - Significance, Background, A Protected Life Interest On Death Row, Safeguarding Against Irresponsible Clemency, Impact