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Belfast's death row lawyer

Death row lawyer Gary Proctor, originally from Northern Ireland, addressed an Amnesty International meeting in Belfast this evening about his experiences.

Graduating in law from Queen's University Belfast in 1995, Gary has been working on death penalty cases in the US since 2000, including with famed lawyer Clive Stafford Smith in New Orleans.  He has worked on approximately 20 death penalty cases in Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and Washington DC, including the cases of  British nationals Tracy Housel and Kris Maharj. 

He addressed a meeting of the Amnesty International death penalty campaign group, which meets monthly in Belfast. This group campaigns against the death penalty and most recently worked on the case of death row Scot, Kenny Richey, who spent 20 years on death row before being dramatically freed at the beginning of 2008.

Gary worked hard for us today, doing a round of radio and print media interviews in Belfast and was even having his picture taken by the News Letter when I showed up at the Amnesty office this evening for his talk.

He's a very engaging character, passionate about his work and lively in his speech. Definitely a lawyer you would want on your side. He focused on the endemic racism involved in death penalty cases, the rising number of federal capital cases (stepping in where States are often reluctant to go, due to spiralling case costs) and the fact that it is a tiny small number of counties within States like Texas which are responsible for most death penalty prosecutions.

He spoke strongly in support of Amnesty's work on the death penalty, including the writing of letters to prosecutors, State Governors and prisoners themselves. He said he had seen for himself the bundles of letters received and the positive effects which they had on sentencing outcomes as well as prisoner morale.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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