Will Georgia Kill an Innocent Man?

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by ZZZzzzzzzz, Jul 14, 2007.

  1. (Think Bush will commute the sentence of a black man in Georgia?)

    Will Georgia Kill an Innocent Man?

    By BRENDAN LOWEFri Jul 13, 4:20 PM ET

    The pending execution of Troy Anthony Davis, scheduled to take place on July 17, is raising serious questions about his guilt - and about the Newt Gingrich-era federal law that has limited his appeals options and prevented him, say his supporters, from getting a fair shake.

    Davis, 38, a former coach in the Savannah Police Athletic League who had signed up for the Marines, was convicted in the 1989 murder of Mark Allen MacPhail, a Savannah, Ga., police officer. MacPhail was off-duty when he was shot dead in a Savannah parking lot while responding to an assault. Davis was at the scene of the crime, and an acquaintance who was there with him accused Davis of being the shooter. Since his conviction in 1991, Davis has seen each of his state and federal appeals fail. But in the court of public opinion, Davis presents a compelling argument. Seven of the nine main witnesses whose testimony led to his conviction have since recanted. The murder weapon has never been found, and there is no physical evidence linking the crime to Davis, who has asserted his innocence throughout.

    Earlier this month, two of the jurors who sentenced Davis to death signed sworn affidavits saying that based on the recanted testimony, he should not be executed. "In light of this new evidence," wrote one juror, "I have genuine concerns about the fairness of Mr. Davis' death sentence."

    One of Davis' major obstacles has been the federal Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), legislation championed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich as part of his Contract with America and signed by former president Bill Clinton. The act was passed in 1996 as a way of reforming what Gingrich called "the current interminable, frivolous appeals process." Its major provisions reduced new trials for convicted criminals and sped up their sentences by restricting a federal court's ability to judge whether a state court had correctly interpreted the U.S. Constitution.

    Facing political pressure one year after the Oklahoma City bombing and seven months before the presidential election, Clinton signed the bill, but inserted a somewhat incongruous signing statement that called for the federal courts to continue their oversight role.

    That was wishful thinking, say many legal experts. "President Clinton was trying to have his cake and eat it, too," said George Kendall, senior counsel at Holland and Knight and a board member of the Death Penalty Information Center. The reality since 1996, legal analysts say, has been a U.S. Supreme Court that has narrowly interpreted the act, further restraining the ability of federal courts to grant new trials (on June 25, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to give Davis one last hearing). "The bottom line," said Dale Baich, an assistant federal public defender in Arizona, "is that the AEDPA is very harsh and unforgiving."

    So now there are serious questions whether, as Gingrich famously said, justice delayed is justice denied. The system of appeals can still stretch out over decades, but in Davis' case, many of those appeals are now being denied for procedural reasons. In his 2004 petition to the federal district court in Savannah, Davis presented recanted testimony, most of which involves witnesses who say police coercion caused them to wrongly implicate Davis. He also presented nine individuals' affidavits that suggested that the real murderer was actually the former acquaintance who first accused Davis of the crime.

    The federal judge rejected the petition since, under the current law, the evidence must first be presented in state court. But Tom Dunn, the executive director of the Georgia Resource Center, which helped represent Davis, says that funding trouble prevented the center from presenting the evidence in state court in the first place. Tracking down witnesses costs money, but in 1995, just as Dunn's colleagues had been preparing Davis' appeal, Congress eliminated $20 million in funding to post-conviction defender organizations like the Georgia center, which lost 70% of its budget. Six of the center's eight lawyers left, as well as three of its four investigators, and Davis' case became one of about 80 that Beth Wells, then executive director, had to handle with her co-director.

    "The work conducted on Mr. Davis' case was akin to triage," Wells wrote in an affidavit, "where we were simply trying to avert total disaster rather than provide any kind of active or effective representation...There were numerous witnesses that we knew should have been interviewed, but lacked the resources to do so."

    Georgia officials insist that Davis' failed 2004 federal court hearing is proof he has had his opportunity in court with the new evidence. "They've had a chance to challenge the conviction," said David Lock, chief assistant district attorney in Chatham County, where Savannah is located.

    Davis' attorney has been filing a flurry of requests for a stay of execution until a new trial can be held. Meanwhile Davis' sister, Martina Correia, has helped assemble an diverse group of advocates - from Dead Man Walking author Sister Helen Prejean to South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu to former FBI director William S. Sessions (a death penalty supporter) - to petition the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute Davis' sentence to life in prison when it meets on July 16, the day before he's scheduled to die by lethal injection.

    Correia has watched her brother spend half his life in prison. This case is not only about him, she says, but it's also about a law that short-changes the convicted. "If for any reason [the last-minute appeal] doesn't go the right way, Georgia is going to be so shamed," she said. "I just don't want my brother to have to be executed to be the catalyst for change."

  2. "(Think Bush will commute the sentence of a black man in Georgia?)"

    Aha, the race card, that's a new one.

    "Think Bush will commute the sentence of a Polack in Hamtramack?"
  3. 1- Bush can commute sentences only for a federal crime.

    2- the conviction is a state beef.

    3- do the math.........
  4. I think Z knew that and was testing the audience.
  5. Your outrage at the likelihood of an innocent man being put to the death by the state of Georgia is duly noted...thanks for showing how much you care.

    Quite frankly you remind me of a 5 year old child "doing the math" because indirectly if Bush really wanted to keep this black man from state execution, all he would have to do is call the governor of Georgia and promise some special favor, the job would get done. Those who think presidents can't or don't make under the table deals like this are beyond stupid...

    So Bush has the real power to both pardon and commute at the state level, if he chose to exercise that political power...despite what the letter of the law is. Only a complete dope wouldn't have observed this administration circumvent the spirit of the Constitution at will...

    It is so silly to watch people demonstrate that they do not understand the real way the world of politics works in the modern day unprincipled politically motivated United States of America politicians...

  6. Yup, and you watched a 5 year old "do the math."

  7. "if Bush really wanted to keep this black man from state execution, all he would have to do is call the governor of Georgia and promise some special favor, the job would get done."

    The media would have a field day with this. The black man would get out of jail and as soon as he found out the real reason "How George played politcs with the court system" (with the sequel by the Governor who wore a wire) he would hire Al Sharpton and sell his story to the media. This is a trap.
  8. Oh, so you have proof that he's innocent I see. Well, in that case let's indeed set him free. See how much compassion I have?

    What a dope you are - what part of a gov pardoning/commuting a state sentence do you not get? You remind me of those dummy CTers where everyone is interconnected and in collusion. I guess you need to go study the Constitution again - back to school for you !!

    So where's the proof of your guy's innocence?

    Crickets chirping.............
  9. Lucrum


    Don't they all?

    I'm all for streamlining the appeals process and as big a supporter of the death penalty as you'll find. It should not take a decade to carry out an execution. In fact the death penalty imo would be more of a deterrent if administered sooner rather than so long after the crime. The average dumb ass career criminal committing a capital
    offense simple can't associate his actions with consequences that won't happen for a decade or more.

    Except for what I've read here I'm not familiar with this case. However I have to admit it looks weak, certainly weak enough for a stay of execution if not having the sentence commuted to life.

    And at the risk of changing the topic (not my intention) let me add that I think our justice system is awash with trial lawyers and prosecutors alike that don't give a rat's ass about true justice.
    All they're interested in is being able to chalk up a "win". A lawyer gets a rapist or murderer off so they can rape and kill again, so what. The fact that society loses is irrelevant to them, the lawyer "won". If he got on TV so much the better, now he can jack up his rates.
    Prosecutors are no better, even with recanted testimony or new evidence they're often reluctant to even look at it. Anything to avoid having to admit they may have been wrong. People released after serving years for crimes they didn't commit get nothing but an apology from a judge, if that.

    Personally I think it boils down this.
    It seems almost no one has any G D integrity anymore.
  10. Ever the beaten man, in perpetuity...

    Yall klannish really do crack me up...hook, line and sinker, nine times out of ten.

    Innocent until proven guilty, and if those who were "eye witness" were the reason the jury reached that verdict, and they have now recanted, there is no proof...

    What a bozo you are...

    I would say the crickets are chirping in your dome, but the brain is too small in that cavity to hold house even a single cricket...

    #10     Jul 14, 2007