Wasden Whiffs With Supremes 

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden may be on the short list of people who might replace U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, but he's a two-time loser with the U.S. Supreme Court. Not for lack of trying: Wasden had two cases he hoped might get a hearing before the Supreme Court, now beginning its latest term. Earlier this week, the Supes told him, "Nix."

One of the denials represents a bonus for Mark Lankford, who in 1989 had a felony murder conviction and death sentence upheld by the Idaho Supreme Court. His brother Bryan was facing similar charges until a subsequent appeal reduced his sentence to life in prison.

Wasden was hoping the Roberts Court might reverse a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that Lankford ought to be retried or released, but it's a no go. Lankford remains on Idaho's death row.

The story began in June 1983, when Robert and Cheryl Bravence were killed in a wilderness area in Northern Idaho. Both Lankford brothers were arrested in October of that year. Although Bryan initially blamed his brother in the murders, he has since recanted those statements. They were both sentenced to death a year later.

For his part, Lankford has maintained his innocence all along, saying he wasn't even near the site.

"The state's evidence corroborated Bryan Lankford's testimony that Mark Lankford participated in a robbery in which a murder was committed," Wasden said in a prepared statement. "Idaho law does not require proof that Mark Lankford himself did the killing; only that he participated in a robbery in which a murder occurred."

Fuggedaboudit, the Supreme Court said. In the Ninth District's 2006 ruling that Lankford needed a new trial or a release, the court said his defense attorney screwed up in his jury instruction, and that if he'd done his job right, Lankford might have been acquitted.

The other case Wasden was hoping to get heard involves the state's appeal of a decision to allow convicted sex offenders to refuse to participate in a psychosexual evaluation before sentencing.

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