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【讲座预告】“Death is Different” – The Execution of Richard Wayne Snell


主讲人:G. William Currier

主持人:Christian Pangilinan,北京大学国际法学院助理院长





G. William Currier

G. William Currier is a former United States Federal Prosecutor and trial lawyer (Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Columbia); former securities litigator (Assistant Chief Litigation Counsel), United States Securities and Exchange Commission’s Enforcement Division (offices in D.C. and New York City); former Partner and senior counsel representing white-collar corporate, directors and executives in U.S. and foreign civil and criminal defense matters for twenty years (White & Case, LLP, an international law firm with more than 40 offices worldwide); a law clerk to Judge Frederick Weisberg, D.C. Superior Court, District of Columbia (presidential appointee); and currently practices criminal and administrative law in matters as varied as international criminal cyberfraud, federal whistleblower litigation, and representations involving congressional investigations. His legal representation has taken him to numerous countries in Central and South America, Europe, Central Asia, Southeast and East Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and of course, the U.S and Canada.


Richard Wayne Snell was 64 years old on April 19, 1995 when he was executed for the murder of William Stumpp. He’d killed Stumpp during an armed robbery of a pawn shop on the main street of Texarkana, a country town straddling the Texas and Arkansas border. At the time, Snell’s getaway was complete. There were no suspects. The next year, 1985, while driving from Arkansas to neighboring Oklahoma in his private vehicle, Snell was stopped by an African-American Arkansas State Trooper, Louis Bryant, for a traffic violation. Snell “rolled” out of his car and shot Officer Bryant multiple times. Some news sources reported he stood over Bryant and shot him a final time. He was cornered as he attempted to escape to Oklahoma. During a gun battle with Oklahoma and Arkansas police, he was shot multiple times. When police searched Snell’s car, they recovered both murder weapons.

During his jury trial for the capital murder of Officer Bryant, he was found guilty, but the jury sentenced him to life without parole, not death. He was immediately charged in another capital case for the Stumpp murder. After his trial before a different jury, Snell was found guilty of murdering Stumpp during an armed robbery and was sentenced to death by lethal injection.

The “National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Legal Defense Fund (NAACP),” a famous law reform organization devoted to helping African-Americans challenge unfair treatment throughout American society, including death row proceedings, strongly recommended the firm undertake Snell’s representation.

Our firm agreed to represent Snell pro bono (e.g., “for free”) in post-conviction proceedings. We knew nothing about Snell when we first took his case. But in Arkansas, where Snell was well known, he was closely associated with a white supremacist group operating in the U.S. mid-western heartland. We learned over the years of representing Snell that no matter the color of a defendant’s skin, every convicted individual faces hard choices as his capital case becomes enmeshed in the complex U.S. system of death sentence review.

By Spring, 1995, after ten years of post-conviction litigation, the grim reality reached its inexorable resolution: either some U.S. federal court would convert his death sentence to life without parole at the last minute, or, his execution by lethal injection would proceed as scheduled. “Death is Different” recounts Snell’s last three days, just as they happened – until his final breath.