March 13, 2019
Nick Acklin and a co-defendant were convicted of murdering four people in Alabama in 1996. This being Alabama, he was sentenced to death.
But there’s a problem.
On the eve of trial, Acklin’s lawyer learned that Acklin’s father had severely abused him as a child. This is the sort of evidence you want the jury to hear, since it is the sort of mitigating evidence that can be used by a jury to spare a defendant the death penalty. But the jury never heard about it. Why?
Because Acklin’s father was paying the lawyer, and threatened to stop paying if the lawyer revealed his abusive behavior in open court. In short, Acklin’s attorney put his own interest in being paid — and the wishes of his client’s abusive father — ahead of his client’s life.
The Alabama Supreme Court rejected Acklin’s appeal. His fate now rests with the U.S. Supreme Court.