Senior Associate Dean Daniel Filler discussed the death penalty and shortcomings in the legal system as a guest on the In Session program on truTV on Dec. 18.
Filler was interviewed about the potential for Kenneth Lynch of South Carolina to face the death penalty if he is convicted of a double murder. Lynch was charged with murder, despite the fact that the bodies of presumed victims Angelica Livingston and Portia Washington have never been found.
The lack of bodies “makes it very complicated as an evidentiary matter” that a judge would likely consider, in the event of a conviction, Filler said.
Describing some aspects of the legal system as “broken,” Filler said the inconsistent quality of attorneys in death penalty cases is particularly problematic.
Filler said a decline in death sentences imposed in recent years may reflect increased skepticism by jurors and possible improvements in the quality of defense counsel in capital cases as well as Supreme Court rulings that outlaw execution of people with developmental disabilities or those who committed crimes as minors.
An expert on criminal law and capital punishment, Filler was appointed to Pennsylvania's Advisory Committee on Capital Punishment in 2012. While on the faculty of the University of Alabama School of Law, he launched the Capital Defense Clinic.