Litigator

Bernard E. Harcourt challenges constitutionality of lethal injection in Alabama death penalty case

last updated: March 30, 2018

Bernard E. Harcourt, Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law, Professor of Political Science, and Director of the Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought, has represented death row inmate Doyle Lee Hamm since 1990.

Hamm, who was convicted and sentenced to death in 1987 for the robbery-murder of a Cullman County motel clerk, Patrick Cunningham, challenged his capital sentence for more than 31 years. Since 2014, Hamm has been battling lymphatic cancer and carcinoma. Treatment for the illness has compromised Hamm’s veins–Harcourt argued that lethal injection would likely cause “cruel and needless pain.”

After signing a confidential settlement agreement, Harcourt jointly moved with the State of Alabama to dismiss Hamm’s civil rights lawsuit and federal habeas corpus petition in the Northern District of Alabama in Birmingham, as well as his state post-conviction Rule 32 petition in Cullman County, Alabama. This will end efforts at setting another execution date.

This story is being covered by several outlets

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Litigating Executive Power and Islamophobia

Attorney Thomas A. Durkin and Professor Bernard E. Harcourt represented pro bono Dr. Al Homssi who was adversely affected by the Executive Order banning Muslims entered on January 29, 2017, and challenged the constitutionality of the EO under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Complaint filed in Federal Court N.D.Ill.

The New Yorker Part 1: A Syrian Doctor with a Visa is Suing the Trump Administration

The New Yorker Part 2: A Syrian Doctor Returns to Illinois

Bernard E. Harcourt on RTS Swiss Radio on the Muslim Ban, March 27, 2017

 

 

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Another Challenge in Visa Case (September, 2017)

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Life Imprisonment without Parole Litigation

Phillip Tomlin was convicted of capital murder in Mobile County, Ala., in 1978 and sentenced to death. After 27 years on death row, Tomlin’s capital sentence was vacated in 2004 and he was resentenced to life imprisonment without parole (LWOP). For the past 36 years, Tomlin has been challenging the various judicial reinterpretations of the 1975 Alabama Death Penalty Statute. In June 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta finally agreed to hear his challenge to the 1975 statute under which he is sentenced to LWOP. Tomlin filed his brief at the 11th Circuit on Oct.6, 2014, with the assistance of the center. On July 16, 2015, the Eleventh Circuit vacated the district court’s denial of the habeas corpus petition and remanded for further review of the LWOP challenge.

Phillip Tomlin Brief

Eleventh Circuit Opinion

Petitioner’s Main Brief

Petitioner’s Appendix

Petitioner’s Reply Brief

Petitioner’s Supplemental Appendix