Attorney and Chairman of the Hartwick College Board of Trustees Francis D. Landrey P’06

Hartwick’s Landrey to Present Lecture on Race, Justice, and the Death Penalty

January 2, 2017

Hartwick College will host a lecture by Attorney Francis D. Landrey P’06 titled “Race, Justice and the Death Penalty: A Martin Luther King Day Commemoration.” The presentation will take place Monday, January 16, 2017 from 9 -11 a.m. in the Celebration Room, Shineman Chapel House on the College campus. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Landrey — senior counsel at Proskauer Rose, an international law firm in New York City, and chairman of the Board of Trustees at Hartwick College — will discuss issues of historical and contemporary racial bias and its impact on the criminal justice system. He will draw on his own experience in representing JB Parker, a black male on death row convicted of first degree murder in connection with the abduction and shooting of a young white woman in Florida.

Proskauer Rose has represented Parker pro bono since 1987, with Landrey serving as the lead attorney.

One of the many issues in the case (J.B. Parker v. State of Florida, 89 So.3d 844) is a claim that the Florida death sentencing process is unconstitutional under the 6th Amendment because key sentencing facts on aggravating and mitigating circumstances were decided by the judge and not the jury. In January 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court held, in Hurst v. Florida, that the Florida death sentencing procedures violate the 6th Amendment guarantee of a jury trial.

According to a recent New York Times editorial on that ruling, “The law, which required judges and not juries to make the factual findings necessary to sentence someone to die, violated the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of a jury trial. ‘A jury’s mere recommendation is not enough,’ Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote for an 8-to-1 majority.”

In late December, the Florida Supreme Court held that the Hurst decision applies to between 150 and 200 death sentences – nearly half of all those on death row in Florida. This decision has the potential for invalidating most, if not all of the affected death sentences.

As a result of these decisions, Landrey and many other lawyers representing death row inmates in Florida are in the process of mapping out their next steps.

“Hartwick is very fortunate to have Francis Landrey here to speak about issues of race in the criminal justice system, which is one of the pressing civil rights issues of our time,” said Professor of Political Science Dr. Laurel Elder, who, along with Visiting Assistant Professor in Sociology Dr. Leona Jochnowitz, is a co-sponsor of the event. “His lecture, which will draw on his own ongoing experience representing a black man on death row in Florida, is a powerful way to commemorate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.”

For more information on the lecture, contact Elder at ElderL@hartwick.edu or 607-431-4887.