From Conviction to Clemency: Commonwealth v. Giarratano, a Case Study in the Modern Death Penalty – Lexington, VA

Washington and Lee University School of Law

From February 5 – 6, 2016, Washington and Lee University Law Review will host its annual Lara D. Gass Symposium in the Millhiser Moot Court Room at Washington and Lee University School of Law.

By highlighting the case of Commonwealth of Virginia v. Joseph Michael Giarratano, the 2016 Lara D. Gass Symposium will explore the ethical, legal, and public policy issues surrounding the use of the death penalty. In Giarratano, the then-Virginia Governor, based on concerns about actual innocence, offered Giarratano a conditional pardon provided that he waive his double jeopardy rights and ask for a new trial. Giarratano accepted the conditional pardon in 1991 but still awaits a new trial.

Giarratano’s case raises several issues that the Symposium panelists will discuss at length, including ineffective assistance of counsel, clemency, post-conviction relief, actual innocence, prison conditions, race and gender, and the use of the death penalty on those with mental illness or intellectual disability.

About the author

Gallagher Law Library Intern 2015 - 2016, University of Washington