The Connecticut Supreme Court has granted amicus status to the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut in the case of Eduardo Santiago, who spent seven years on death row. The court granted the same status to the national ACLU, allowing both to file briefs in the case.

The state Supreme Court affirmed Santiago's conviction for capital murder-for-hire but reversed his death sentence shortly after the legislature repealed the death penalty and the governor signed the repeal into law in April 2012. The repeal was prospective, leaving the 11 prisoners then on death row subject to execution.

With his case remanded for a new penalty trial, Santiago asked the Supreme Court to reconsider whether the repeal prevents the state from seeking the death penalty at his retrial. His lawyers argued that an execution carried out in the face of this judgment would plainly constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the Connecticut and the U.S. constitutions.

Both ACLU briefs support Santiago's motion for reconsideration and ask the court to bar the state from seeking his execution.

The ACLU of Connecticut argues that executing people after the death penalty has been repealed would violate the principle of fundamental fairness that guides Connecticut's criminal justice system.

"By repealing the death penalty prospectively, the State of Connecticut has finally and unequivocally announced that imposition of the death penalty does not meet contemporary community standards of decency and morality," Legal Director Sandra Staub wrote. "[P]ermitting Eduardo Santiago to be executed after this unequivocal announcement would be unprecedented and would violate principles of fundamental fairness embedded in Connecticut law."

The national ACLU brief, signed by 11 prominent legal scholars, argued that executing Santiago would be "contrary to historical and contemporary standards of decency, and thus would be in violation of his constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment."

The briefs will be among the documents the justices may consider in their deliberations.

Executive Director Andrew Schneider said, "The ACLU of Connecticut welcomes the opportunity to argue for a definitive end to an arbitrary and inhumane institution that represents the ultimate denial of civil liberties."