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It has been more than 20 years since Mark Hopkinson was the last person executed in Wyoming. But talk of the death penalty in the state continues, most recently when Sen. Bruce Burns, R-Sheridan, introduced a bill last month that would allow use of a firing squad if the state was ever prevented from using lethal injection.
The death penalty in Wyoming will be a topic of discussion Thursday, Feb. 5, from 5:30-7 p.m. in Room 178 of the University of Wyoming College of Law.
Speakers include Ron Keine, an assistant director of membership and training for Witness to Innocence; Madeline Cohen, an assistant federal public defender in Denver; and Rick Martinez, who worked as a corrections officer in the maximum-security unit at the Wyoming State Penitentiary from 1987-1992.
Witness to Innocence is a national organization composed of and led by exonerated death row survivors and their families. The organization’s mission is to abolish the death penalty by empowering exonerees and their families to become effective leaders in the abolition movement. Keine is a death row exoneree who has dedicated his life to sharing his story. He regularly speaks to groups and media outlets all over the country about the death penalty.
Cohen specializes in handling habeas corpus cases in the federal district court and the court of appeals, as well as criminal direct appeals. Following several years as a litigator with the Denver law firms Morrison & Foerster and Hogan & Hartson, Cohen joined the Colorado-Wyoming Public Defender’s Office in January 2002. While in private practice, she handled civil and criminal appeals in jurisdictions around the country. She also represented death row inmates in federal habeas proceedings at all levels. Following her graduation from Stanford Law School in 1996, Cohen clerked for the Honorable Betty B. Fletcher, on the 9th Circuit.
Martinez was part of the execution team during the execution of Hopkinson Jan. 22, 1992. Martinez resigned his position as a corrections officer about three months later. He returned to school and received a degree in administration of justice and a law degree, both from UW. Martinez is now deputy director for Legal Aid of Wyoming.
Wyoming Law Students for Equal Justice, American Constitution Society, Wyoming Trial Lawyers Association--Student Chapter, Potter Law Club and the American Civil Liberties Union of Wyoming are sponsors of the event.
The event is free and open to the public. Food and beverages will be served at 5 p.m. For more information, contact Christine Michel, director of communications, UW College of Law, at (307) 766-6562; or call Devan at (303) 921-3292 or Ryan at (307) 637-4565.