alt_troy_davis_0713Across the country and the world, events were held Tuesday calling for a new trial for Georgia death row prisoner Troy Davis.

Davis, a 40-year-old African-American man, has been on death row since 1991 for the 1989 murder of off-duty white Savannah policeman Mark MacPhail. Despite his 18 years on death row, Davis maintains his innocence, and legal experts and human rights advocates say there is enough evidence to back up his claim.

The original witness testimonies were the backbone of the prosecution’s case against Davis because of the absence of a murder weapon, fingerprints and DNA evidence. Since Davis’ trial, seven of nine key prosecution witnesses who testified against him have recanted their testimony. Despite these witnesses’ recantations and the exculpatory statements of additional witnesses pointing to another man as the shooter, U.S. courts have refused to allow Davis a hearing to present the new evidence.

In the last two years, Davis has come within hours of lethal injection three times but has been granted a stay. On April 16, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 against Davis’ appeal, essentially denying possible innocence as a sufficient reason to overturn the trial verdict. The dissenting judge, Judge Rosemary Barkett, wrote, “To execute Davis, in the face of a significant amount of proffered evidence that may establish his actual innocence, is unconscionable and unconstitutional.”

Davis’ last stay of execution expired on May 15. Tuesday Davis’ lawyers filed a last-ditch appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking that the case be sent back to a federal judge for an evidentiary hearing that would include witnesses whose testimony has never been heard in court.

Davis’s case has attracted international attention. Influential advocates, including former President Jimmy Carter, Civil Rights icon John Lewis, South Africa Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Pope Benedict XVI, insist that there’s enough doubt about Davis’ guilt to merit a new trial.

The May 19 Global Day of Action was marked with rallies, vigils and petition drives in cities including Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C., asking Gov. Sonny Perdue to offer clemency. While Davis’ lawyers mount their appeal to the Supreme Court, organizations such Amnesty International are calling on people to flood the governor’s office and the Pardons and Parole Board with letters, e-mails, faxes and phone calls.

Criminal justice experts point out that Davis’ case represents the problems with the way courts deal with post-conviction evidence, an issue that has received increased attention due to the important role it’s come to play in death-penalty cases.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in Facing South, the online magazine of the Institute for Southern Studies: http://www.southernstudies.org/. It was re-distributed by the Georgia Online News Service for use by newspapers and Web sites.

###

Desiree Evans

DESIREE EVANS is a Research Associate at the Institute for Southern Studies, where she blogs at Facing South (http://www.southernstudies.org/). She is formerly a policy associate at TransAfrica Forum, where she covered issues impacting the African world. Her writing has also appeared in Alternet, Chicago Reporter, In These Times, The Indianapolis Star, and elsewhere. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a master's degree in international affairs from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.

29 Comments
  1. Billy Howard

    Not re-visiting post conviction evidence puts the state itself in danger of committing murder and all of us in peril of being accomplices. Thank God for Judge Rosemary Barkett.

  2. Cliff Green

    The death penalty is debatable, but advocates for its abolition picked the wrong guy when they rallied behind Troy Davis. Just before Officer MacPhail was gunned down in cold blood (he never drew his own gun, as he was assisting a homeless man who was being piston-whipped) a man named Michael Cooper was shot at a party. Shell casings from both shootings came from the same gun. Davis was convicted of shooting Cooper, and there has never been any testimony or physical eveidence indicating that Davis in the meantime gave the gun to someone else. That puts the murder weapon in Davis’ hand. Better luck next time.

  3. Troy Davis: Both sides need to be told
    Dudley Sharp, contact info below

    Anyone interested in justice will demand a fair, thorough look at both sides of this or any case. Here is the side that the pro Troy Davis faction is, intentionally, not presenting.

    (1) Davis v Georgia, Georgia Supreme Court, 3/17/08
    Full ruling http://www.gasupreme.us/pdf/s07a1758.pdf
    Summary http://www.gasupreme.us/op_summaries/mar_17.pdf

    ” . . . the majority finds that ‘most of the witnesses to the crime who have allegedly recanted have merely stated that they now do not feel able to identify the shooter.’ “One of the affidavits ‘might actually be read so as to confirm trial testimony that Davis was the shooter.’ ”

    The murder occurred in 1989.

    (2) “THE PAROLE BOARD’S CONSIDERATION OF THE TROY ANTHONY DAVIS CASE” , 9/22/08, http://www.pap.state.ga.us/opencms/opencms/

    “After an exhaustive review of all available information regarding the Troy Davis case and after considering all possible reasons for granting clemency, the Board has determined that clemency is not warranted.”

    “The Board has now spent more than a year studying and considering this case. As a part of its proceedings, the Board gave Davis’ attorneys an opportunity to present every witness they desired to support their allegation that there is doubt as to Davis’ guilt. The Board heard each of these witnesses and questioned them closely. In addition, the Board has studied the voluminous trial transcript, the police investigation report and the initial statements of all witnesses. The Board has also had certain physical evidence retested and Davis interviewed.”

    (3) A detailed review of the extraordinary consideration that Davis was given for all of his claims,
    by Chatham County District Attorney Spencer Lawton http://tinyurl.com/46c73l

    Troy Davis’ claims are undermined, revealing the dishonesty of the Davis advocates . Look, particularly, at pages 4-7, which show the reasoned, thoughtful and generous reviews of Davis’ claims, as well a how despicable the one sided cynical pro Troy Davis effort is.

    (4) Officer Mark Allen MacPhail: The family of murdered Officer MacPhail fully believes that Troy Davis murdered their loved one and that the evidence is supportive of that opinion. http://www.markallenmacphail.com/

    Not simply an emotional and understandable plea for justice, but a detailed factual review of the case.

    Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
    e-mail [email protected] 713-622-5491,
    Houston, Texas

    Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS, VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O’Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.

    A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

  4. Billy Howard

    If there is overwhelming and compelling evidence that Troy Davis is guilty, then it surprises me that William Sessions, the former director of the FBI, someone who should be familiar with evidence, former U.S. attorney general Larry Thompson and former Congressman Bob Barr all support the petition to examine new evidence in the case. Maybe he is guilty, but if we are going to have a death penalty then we should be 100% sure of guilt before using it. One wrongful death by the state is unacceptable and if we as citizens are willing to take that risk then we are a callous lot. The death penalty, if applied to an innocent person, is nothing less than premeditated murder, if applied to a guilty person, it is the personification of old testament justice, ignoring the life of the greatest death penalty victim in the past 2000 years.

  5. Billy:

    It appears that you didn’t read the material that I posted.

    Please do so and then let’s discuss.

    I appreciate you listing 3 folks who support a review of the new evidence. Had you read the material I sent, you would know that it had already been reviewed, exhaustively.

    The amount of New testament support for the death penalty, from Sainst, biblical scholars and theologians, pope’s, etc. is quite extensive.

    Just a few: God said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever curses father or mother must certainly be put to death.’ Mathew 15:4

    Jesus stated: “You have heard the ancients were told, ˜YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER” and “Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court”. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, “Raca”, shall be guilty before the supreme court and whoever shall say, “You fool”, shall be guilty enough to go into fiery hell.” Matthew 5:17-22.

    The Holy Spirit: God, through the power and justice of the Holy Spirit, executed both Ananias and his wife, Saphira. Their crime? Lying to the Holy Spirit – to God – through Peter. Acts 5:1-11.

    Saint Paul, in his hearing before Festus, states: “if then I am a wrong doer, and have committed anything worthy of death, I do not refuse to die.” Acts 25:11.

    St. Augustine: “The same divine law which forbids the killing of a human being allows certain exceptions. Since the agent of authority is but a sword in the hand, and is not responsible for the killing, it is in no way contrary to the commandment “Thou shalt not kill”, for the representative of the State’s authority to put criminals to death, according to the Law or the rule of rational justice.” The City of God, Book 1, Chapter 21

    St. Thomas Aquinas finds all biblical interpretations against executions “frivolous”, citing Exodus 22:18, “wrongdoers thou shalt not suffer to live”. Unequivocally, he states,” The civil rulers execute, justly and sinlessly, pestiferous men in order to protect the peace of the state.” (Summa Contra Gentiles, III, 146

    St. Thomas Aquinas: “The fact that the evil, as long as they live, can be corrected from their errors does not prohibit the fact that they may be justly executed, for the danger which threatens from their way of life is greater and more certain than the good which may be expected from their improvement. They also have at that critical point of death the opportunity to be converted to God through repentance. And if they are so stubborn that even at the point of death their heart does not draw back from evil, it is possible to make a highly probable judgement that they would never come away from evil to the right use of their powers.” Summa Contra Gentiles, Book III, 146.

    Saints Thomas Aquinas and Augustine. In addition to the required punishment for murder and the deterrence standards, both Saints find that executing murderers is also an act of charity and mercy. Saint Augustine confirms that ” . . . inflicting capital punishment . . . protects those who are undergoing capital punishment from the harm they may suffer . . . through increased sinning which might continue if their life went on.” (On the Lord’s Sermon, 1.20.63-64.)

    Saint Thomas Aquinas finds that ” . . . the death inflicted by the judge profits the sinner, if he be converted, unto the expiation of his crime; and, if he be not converted, it profits so as to put an end to the sin, because the sinner is thus deprived of the power to sin anymore.” (Summa Theologica, II-II, 25, 6 ad 2.)

    St. Thomas Aquinas: “If a man is a danger to the community, threatening it with disintegration by some wrongdoing of his, then his execution for the healing and preservation of the common good is to be commended. Only the public authority, not private persons, may licitly execute malefactors by public judgement. Men shall be sentenced to death for crimes of irreparable harm or which are particularly perverted.” Summa Theologica, 11; 65-2; 66-6.

    “St. Thomas Aquinas quotes a gloss of St. Jerome on Matthew 27: “As Christ became accursed of the cross for us, for our salvation He was crucified as a guilty one among the guilty.” As Prof. Michael Pakaluk writes: “If no crime deserves the death penalty, then it is hard to see why it was fitting that Christ be put to death for our sins and crucified among thieves.” ” That Christ be put to death as a guilty person, presupposes that death is a fitting punishment for those who are guilty.” The Death Penalty: An Opposing Viewpoints Series Book, Greenhaven Press, (hereafter TDP:OVS), 1991

    Saint (& Pope) Pius V, “The just use of (executions), far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this (Fifth) Commandment which prohibits murder.” “The Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent” (1566).

    Pope Pius XII: “When it is a question of the execution of a man condemned to death it is then reserved to the public power to deprive the condemned of the benefit of life, in expiation of his fault, when already, by his fault, he has dispossessed himself of the right to live.” 9/14/52.

  6. Billy Howard

    You have left out a few choice words from the Bible, including Matthew 5:38=-39: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also.” and John 8:3 “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.”
    If Jesus is the Prince of Peace, I for one, cannot imagine him standing idly by as someone is executed with a scintilla of evidentiary doubt. WWJD, indeed.
    And, even if the Bible supports use of the Death Penalty, which in totality I do not believe, the Bible is so rich that people can use it like statistics, to prove their point of view through specific readings, (witness the rigid convictions of numerous denominations adamantly saying their interpretation is the true meaning of the word though they conflict with another denomination also claiming the same) their is a responsibility on the state, which is US, to insure that every bit of evidence is reviewed and the condemned is guilty beyond all doubt. If evidence is revealed after the trial that might have changed the result of that trial, including in this case what appears to be witness intimidation by the state, then in good conscience that evidence should be heard. You may be able in good conscience to stake another person’s life on a trial that did not have all the pertinent facts, I am not.

  7. Billy:

    I included all I wished to, therefore I left nothing out.

    I appreicate your text quotes.

    Are you implying that the scholars I listed were not aware of those texts or that those scholars, somehow, misinterpreted those texts or forgot about them, in the context of the death penalty?

    Of course, you cannot possibly believe that is true.

    The biblical/scholarly support for the death penalty overwhelms any denunciation of it. If you review the scholarship, you will find that your two selected texts have nothing to do with ending or denouncing the death penalty.

    Again, it appears that you have not read the Troy Davis material I posted.

    Please do so.

  8. for example:

    John 8 and the death penalty:
    The Woman Caught in Adultery

    1) Anti-death penalty activists Sister Helen Prejean, often inaccurate, get this right: “It is abundantly clear that the Bible depicts murder as a capital crime for which death is considered the appropriate punishment, and one is hard pressed to find a biblical proof text in either the Hebrew Testament or the New Testament which unequivocally refutes this. Even Jesus’ admonition “Let him without sin cast the first stone”, when He was asked the appropriate punishment for an adulteress (John 8:7) – the Mosaic Law prescribed death – should be read in its proper context. This passage is an entrapment story, which sought to how Jesus’ wisdom in besting His adversaries. It is not an ethical pronouncement about capital punishment . Sister Helen Prejean, Dead Man Walking.

    2) What about the woman caught in adultery? From “Why I Support Capital Punishment”, by Andrew Tallman, sections 7-11 biblical review, sections 1-6 secular review http://andrewtallmanshowarticles.blogspot.com/search?q=Capital+punishment

    In John 8:1-11, the Pharisees bring Jesus a woman caught in the act of adultery to see if He will authorize her execution. After He famously says, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her,” they all depart, and Jesus sends the woman on her way, saying, “Neither do I condemn you; go your way; from now on sin no more.” Of all passages in the Bible, this one most clearly shows that Jesus opposed capital punishment.

    First, we should note that this passage is textually dubious. The best manuscripts don’t include it, and both its placement and style controvert its authenticity.

    Even so, the Christian community has long considered this an iconic story of Jesus’s mercy. So, to merely throw it out would be inappropriate. Besides, it may well be a legitimate story, just not one included in the John autoscript. Hence, an interpretation would be more helpful than a dismissal.

    The trouble is that most people wildly misunderstand this story. The Pharisees’ only reason for bringing this woman to Jesus was to put Him in a dilemma. On the one hand, He couldn’t call for her execution since Roman law prohibited anyone other than a Roman court from doing this. The Pharisees proved they knew this when they later brought Jesus to Pilate rather than killing Him themselves. On the other hand, He couldn’t oppose her execution because this would have proven He was a false prophet for contradicting God’s Law. The passage even explains this in verse 6, “they were saying this, testing Him, in order that they might have grounds for accusing Him.”

    So, the Pharisees wanted to make Jesus a heretic for opposing capital punishment, but He evaded their trap. The tremendous irony is that now, two thousand years later, people who claim to love Jesus teach that He was precisely the heretic His enemies wanted to paint Him as. If Jesus was in fact repudiating capital punishment in this story, then He was neither the Divine Son of God nor even a true prophet. As I’m apparently more reluctant than others to embrace this conclusion, I can’t interpret

    Jesus as rejecting the Old Testament here. Had He been, His enemies would have left jubilant rather than ashamed. There are many theories on the meaning of this story, but the one thing we must not do is use it to say Jesus overturned God’s Word as His enemies intended.

    3) John 8: The Woman Caught in Adultery – Dealing with Capital Offenses Lawfully
    http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Lobby/3562/adultry.html

    4) Also see – Misuse and misunderstanding of John 8:7 is quite common. See Forgery in the Gospel of John http://www.religioustolerance.org/john_8.htm

    5) Do a GOOGLE search for — entrapment “John 8:7″ — and read the results.

  9. Billy Howard

    I am assuming that Dudley Sharp is Cliff Green, otherwise I am unsure of what post you refer to. Since we are a nation of laws and not a theocracy, although there are some that would prefer the latter, there is another argument for reviewing Troy Davis’ trial and that is the disparity between capital punishment convictions for African American defendants and white defendants. There is no explanation for the skewed results other than racism. Two of the nation’s eminent scholars on the death penalty, law professor David Baldous and statistician George Woodward found the chances of being sentenced to death were far greater if, for similar crimes, the defendant were black. As a society we have used the death penalty to continue the practice of vigilante lynchings, under cover of judicial legitimacy. For that reason alone, the death penalty should be halted until a truly blind justice way of meting out this ultimate penalty is devised.
    I have read and re-read the original Cliff Green response which hinges on a very damning piece of evidence. While saying he has never seen evidence to controvert that original evidence, he seems not to be open to exploring the possibility that such evidence might exist, otherwise, why not allow for new evidence to be presented?
    On another note, I appreciate the debate and respect that your opinions are honorable. The debate has helped me hold my own beliefs up to a mirror and confirmed my own feelings, as it has, I think, solidified your own opinions. So, if two reasonable people, and I hope you will concede that on my behalf as I do you, can have an honest disagreement on this most serious subject, then I think the preponderance of evidence in the debate should be weighed against the person proposing death. You haven’t won the argument with me, but I will continue to listen to your point of view.

  10. Billy Howard

    If Dudley Sharp is Dudley Sharp and not a nom de plume for Cliff Green, then my sincere apologies to both. If there is material you posted of which I am not aware, share the link and I will gladly read it. I am interested in the subject and interested in knowing as much as possible from both sides of the argument.

  11. I am Dudley Sharp.

    You mentioned the New Testament and I replied, It has nothing to do with a theocracy, but was in the context of the discussion.

    Oddly, a post that I thought was posted,here, is no longer on the site.

    Here ya go:

    Troy Davis: Both sides need to be told
    Dudley Sharp, contact info below

    Anyone interested in justice will demand a fair, thorough look at both sides of this or any case. Here is the side that the pro Troy Davis faction is, intentionally, not presenting.

    (1) Davis v Georgia, Georgia Supreme Court, 3/17/08
    Full ruling http://www.gasupreme.us/pdf/s07a1758.pdf
    Summary http://www.gasupreme.us/op_summaries/mar_17.pdf

    ” . . . the majority finds that ‘most of the witnesses to the crime who have allegedly recanted have merely stated that they now do not feel able to identify the shooter.’ “One of the affidavits ‘might actually be read so as to confirm trial testimony that Davis was the shooter.’ ”

    The murder occurred in 1989.

    (2) “THE PAROLE BOARD’S CONSIDERATION OF THE TROY ANTHONY DAVIS CASE” , 9/22/08, http://www.pap.state.ga.us/opencms/opencms/

    “After an exhaustive review of all available information regarding the Troy Davis case and after considering all possible reasons for granting clemency, the Board has determined that clemency is not warranted.”

    “The Board has now spent more than a year studying and considering this case. As a part of its proceedings, the Board gave Davis’ attorneys an opportunity to present every witness they desired to support their allegation that there is doubt as to Davis’ guilt. The Board heard each of these witnesses and questioned them closely. In addition, the Board has studied the voluminous trial transcript, the police investigation report and the initial statements of all witnesses. The Board has also had certain physical evidence retested and Davis interviewed.”

    (3) A detailed review of the extraordinary consideration that Davis was given for all of his claims,
    by Chatham County District Attorney Spencer Lawton http://tinyurl.com/46c73l

    Troy Davis’ claims are undermined, revealing the dishonesty of the Davis advocates . Look, particularly, at pages 4-7, which show the reasoned, thoughtful and generous reviews of Davis’ claims, as well a how despicable the one sided cynical pro Troy Davis effort is.

    (4) Officer Mark Allen MacPhail: The family of murdered Officer MacPhail fully believes that Troy Davis murdered their loved one and that the evidence is supportive of that opinion. http://www.markallenmacphail.com/

    Not simply an emotional and understandable plea for justice, but a detailed factual review of the case.

  12. Billy Howard

    Ah-ha, I found your post Dudley, and indeed you are not Cliff. My apologies to both. I am no more swayed by your arguments, which I find incomplete, than you are by mine. The entire concept of the death penalty to me is barbaric and medieval. If we continue the practice we should televise it and allow us all to witness what is being done in our name. Watch as a human being’s life is taken by the state. And, I have no feeling of compassion for the guilty and I feel empathy for the victim. I just do not believe that any of us has the wisdom to go about taking another life. While you dispute the numbers given by anti-death penalty activists about the number of possible innocents on death row, you admit they exist. If even one is, or has been, put to death, is that an acceptable number? If a white murderer is given life for the exact crime a black murderer is put to death for, should we care? If the prosecutors offices in all fifty states are not free of ethical misconduct, should we be concerned when lives are at stake?
    I would submit that life without parole is a damning sentence, the prospect of which should be as big a deterrent, if not more so, than the death penalty. I have no sympathy for murderers, I just chose not to become one through my complacency.

  13. Keith Graham

    The Troy Davis case is troubling, whether you believe in the death penalty or not. The big question even for people who support capital punishment is this: If you were a juror at the trial and you heard the case against him — minus the recanted testimony — would you have been convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that he is guilty as charged of the crimes he is accused of committing? Many people say they would not., and, based on my own experience as a juror, I know I would not have voted to convict. Is he innocent? I don’t know. Could the prosecution make a convincing case without the now-tainted tesimony? I don’t know that either. But I do believe significant questions have been raised about the fairness of the trial that led to his conviction.
    His case, of course, raises other issues for those of us who oppose the death penalty. Two-thirds of the world’s nations have become convinced that capital punishment is neither humane nor necessary. Some day, the United States will join them.

  14. Keith:

    Some of my material, crucial to the Davis case, is not being posted.

    Do a Google search for:

    “Dudley Sharp” “Troy Davis: Both sides need to be told”

    and you will find that what you are asking for has already been done and the courts still rejected Davls’ claims.

  15. oddly, I can see three of my comments “awaiting moderation” but no one else can.

    Maybe, someday, they will pop up.

  16. Keth, you are in error:

    As of, now, 104 countries have the death penalty, 93 don’t

    Even in Western Europe, that collection of governments most vocally opposed to capital punishment, their citizens actually do support the death penalty.

    from the French daily Le Monde, December 2006 (1):

    Percentage of respondents in favor of executing Saddam Hussein:

    France: 58%
    Germany: 53%
    Spain: 51%
    Italy: 46%

    and
    USA: 82%
    Great Britain: 69%

    We are led to believe there isn’t death penalty support in England or Europe. European governments won’t allow executions when their populations support it: they’re anti democratic. (2)

    Death penalty support is much deeper and much wider than we are often led to believe, with significant percentages of those who say they, generally, oppose the death penalty, actually supporting it when it is a true death eligible crime.

    (1) The recent results of a poll conducted by Novatris/Harris for the French daily Le Monde on the death penalty shocked the editors and writers at Germany’s left-leaning SPIEGEL ONLINE (Dec. 22, 2006). When asked whether they favored the death penalty for Saddam Hussein, a majority of respondents in Germany, France and Spain responded in the affirmative.

    (2)An excellent article, “Death in Venice: Europe’s Death-penalty Elitism”, details this anti democratic position (The New Republic, by Joshua Micah Marshall, 7/31/2000). Another situation reflects this same mentality. “(Pres. Mandela says ‘no’ to reinstating the death penalty in South Africa – Nelson Mandela against death penalty though 93% of public favors it, according to poll. “(JET, 10/14/96). Pres. Mandela explained that “. . . it was necessary to inform the people about other strategies the government was using to combat crime.” As if the people didn’t understand. South Africa has had some of the highest crime rates in the world in the ten years, since Mandela’s comments. “The number of murders committed each year in the country is as high as 47,000, according to Interpol statistics.” As of 2006, 72% of South Africans want the death penalty back. (“South Africans Support Death Penalty”, 5/14/2006, Angus Reid Global Monitor : Polls & Research

    NOTE: Some recent polls – with no mention of specific crimes.

    97%+ of Guatemalans support the death penalty. 2.6% oppose
    (telephone survey, newspaper Prensa Libre, 2/14/08)
    www(dot)latinamericapress.org/article.asp?lanCode=1&artCode=5545

    79% support the resumption of hanging in Jamaica. 16% oppose. (Bill Johnson Polling for The Gleaner (Jamaica) Newspaper, 1/12-13/08

    Two-thirds of Czechs for death penalty reintroduction – poll
    Prague- Almost two-thirds of Czechs believe that death penalty should exist in the Czech Republic, while one-third believes the opposite, according to a poll the CVVM agency conducted in May and released. June 12, 2008, Ceskenoviny.cz/news/

  17. Keith Graham

    Just for informational purposes, the laws of 93 nations do not allow the death penalty for any crime. Ten other nations have laws that allow it only under very rare circumstances, such as crimes committed under military law. Another 36 nations have chosen not to use the death penalty even though their laws allow it. That’s a total of 139 countries who have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice. Fifty-eight nations now actively use capital punishment. Such numbers alone, of course, do not speak to the ethical issues surrounding the debate over capital punishment, but I think they do suggest a clear trend away from its use.

  18. Lee Leslie

    Dudley – our comment spam filters flagged your other comment post for being a duplicate (2 versions of the same comment – one longer). I apologize for not noticing it was pending moderation. It has been approved now.

  19. Based upon your comments and questions, it appears that you did not read the material that I sent.

    If you haven’t, you need to do so, in order to appreciate the quotes, which came from the judges reviewing the case.

    If you read all the material, you know that Davis’ defense counsel , during the trial, questioned all of the eyewitnesses, very strongly, on the issue of whether they were coerced or intimidated.

    All of the eyewitnesses said that there was no coercion or intimidation, of any kind.

    At trial, their identifications were solid, without a hint of coercion or intimidation.

    Now, years later, folks are alleging police intimidation.

    Although, all prior testimony and indications was that there was no intimidation, let’s now, presume that there was police intimidation of eyewitnesses.

    For what possible reason would the police intimidate eyewitnesses to identify one suspect over the other?

    There is no reason, at all.

    Secondly, that intimidation does not carry over to the trial.

    The eyewitnesses were interviewed, extensively, by the prosecutors prior to the trial and there was no mention of intimidation or coercion, there, either, just as there was a denial of intimidation or coercion by those same witnesses at trial.

    One of the things the appellate judges are looking at is that Davis’ attorneys waited, for years, to bring up these “recantations”.

    First, that strongly indicates that Davis’ attorneys didn’t give them much credibility, themselves. That is the only reason for the delay.

    Secondly, and obviously, we all have to consider that the intimidation and coercion of witnesses can, also, occur, long after a trial and that saving the life of a person on death row, either guilty or innocent, provides motivation to do so.

    Most, if not all, of the appellate judges in this case, have been around a long time and certainly, they have seen both credible and non credible recantations and forgetfullness by witnesses from trials, that were many years in the past, as in the Davis case.

    I think we all know that to be true.

    Regarding the physical evidence. Davis was identified as the one with the gun and the two shootings and the bullets were tied to the same gun, and the two shootings were tied to Davis.The gun wasn’t recovered.

    Davis was postively identified and convicted in his firt shooting of that night, which he intended to be a murder, fortunatley that vicitm, shot in the head, as well, survivied.

  20. Cliff Green

    Noe only does Billy Howard think I’m Dudley Sharp, but he mis-represents my position. I am not opposed to new evidence in the Davis case, assuming someone has some.
    Let’s look at the facts, death penalty opponents and anti-death penalty lawyers have been flogging this case for 17 years. If there existed any “new evidence” that would get the murder weapopn out of Davis’ hand, wouldn’t one of them have thought to show it someone by. And they’ve had ample opportunity: some 30 judges have reviewed this case over the years, and not one jurist has seen fit to order a new trial.
    I share Billy’s discomfort with the death penalty, but this is the wrong case to use in an effort to get it stopped.

  21. Billy Howard

    My apologies Cliff. Dudley’s first post referred to a post that had not shown up on the site, so I thought he must be referring to the main post. So many people use other names when posting on blogs I mistakenly thought this could be your blog posting name. Alas, I have been duly reprimanded and will be more careful in the future.
    This entire episode has made me dig deep into my own feelings for this case, which I only had limited knowledge of and feel a bit more informed. I am stridently opposed to the death penalty, which colored my earlier posts. However, I am still troubled by the fact that so many high ranking people, William Sessions and Bob Barr, people much more aware, presumably of the case and definitely of evidence, would want the case revisited if there was so little to justify that.
    I have really enjoyed your posts Cliff, including this one, which has reminded me that it is good to have as much information as possible before weighing in on such an important subject. All of that said, I still believe, based on the support of people more knowledgeable and because I abhor the death penalty, that a review should be conducted.
    I am torn by my sympathy for the family of the victim. Again, I think abolishing the death penalty and having a life without parole option would allow closure for families, justice for victims, and just punishment for criminals.

  22. Billy:

    You say” a review should be conducted.”

    Please.

    To beat a constant theme. There have been mutiple and thorough reviews of the “new” evidence in Davis’ case.

    William Sessions has been an active anti death penalty person for years. His law firm is also actively anti death penalty and has represented a number of death row inmates.

    That said, people will disagree on this case.

    But, at the very least, they should look at both sides of the case, especially when someone puts the multiple reviews right in fron of them and they still say “a review should be conducted.”

    Something, here, about, “you can lead a horse to water . . .”

  23. Cliff Green

    William Sessions and Bob Barr did not sit on the jury that heard the evidence against Davis. How you can say they somehow attained knowledge of the case no one else has is beyone comprehension.

  24. Billy Howard

    I concede, I give up, I throw in the towel, UNCLE! Cliff and Dudley have obviously studied this case far more than I and my arguments are all based on the information I have from the stories I’ve read. Where I will not concede is my belief that the death penalty is wrong.

  25. Cliff Green

    Billy, you’re an honest man. I never wanted you to concede a thing. I was simply trying to point out that this is a weak case to rely on when arguing your point.

  26. Keith Graham

    I don’t think we’ll resolve this case here on this Web site. But I hate to leave it on this note. Recanted testimony is something our courts don’t handle well, which is part of the problem in this case, but wouldn’t the change of testimony have an effect on jurors in a new trial? Many people believe that Sylvester Coles, the most important witness against Davis in this case, is the chief alternative suspect. Many people with good legal minds who have done the research have doubts about the case against Troy Davis. I generally trust Cliff’s knowledge and have great respect for his point of view. But, even if I supported the death penalty, which I do not, I can’t say I’ve read anything here that convinces me that we have the final answer on this case. And Dudley, you can correct me if I am wrong, but I did Google you as you suggested, and my impression is that you never — or at least in the years after you became an active campaigner for capital punishment — met a death penalty case that you did not like. I respect that position, but I don’t think it helps to solve the riddles I still feel about this case, and I hope you can respect that. Two different issues here, guys: One is the question of guilt or innocence for Troy Davis. I know that Dudley and Cliff are convinced of his guilt. But not just Billy Howard and me, but many others — around the world at this point — still have questions. If the case is so definitive, what’s the rush from your point of view? This man has already spent 19 years in prison. The second issue is the death penalty in general. Cliff might be right that this is not the best case to argue that point. But, no matter how you feel about that, I continue to have questions about this case. If so many people have doubts, shouldn’t we be absolutely sure we get it right before we kill him?

  27. Keith, you presume too much. There is not one death penalty case that I have liked, because I view all death penalty cases as extreme cases of moral failure and personal loss of infinite measure. Secondly, I have never expressed an opinion of Davis’ guilt.

    I am, generally, disgusted by the way anti death penalty activists present their innocnce campaigns, from Juilius and Ethel Rosenburg to Roger Keith Coleman to Gary Graham to Troy Davis, we see a pattern of dishonesty and invention.

    I have hammered on one thing “Both sides need to be told.”

    Had the pro Davis and/or anti death penalty side presented the whole case, evenly, all along, I am not sure this case would have become the latest Cause Celebre.

  28. The pattern is set.

    The 130 death row “innocents” scam
    Dudley Sharp, contact info below

    NOTE: fact checking issues, on innocence and the death penalty.

    It is very important to take note that the 130 “exonerated” from death row is a blatant scam, easily uncovered by fact checking.

    Richard Dieter, head of the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) and DPIC have produced the claims regarding the exonerated and innocents released from death row list.

    The scam is that DPIC just decided to redefine what exonerated and innocence mean according to their own perverse definitions.

    How Dieter and DPIC define what “exonerated” or “innocent” means.

    “. . . (DPIC) makes no distinction between legal and factual innocence. ” ‘They’re innocent in the eyes of the law,’ Dieter says. ‘That’s the only objective standard we have.’ ”

    That is untrue, of course. We are all aware of the differences between legal guilt and actual guilt and legal innocence (not guilty) and actual innocence, just as the courts are.

    The only issue in the death penalty innocence debate is how many actual innocents are sent to death row and what is the probability of executing an actual innocent. Legal innocence is not the issue, for the simple fact that we cannot execute a legally innocent person. So the concern is over the actual innocent, those who had no connection to the murder(s).

    Furthermore, there is no finding of actual innocence, but it is “not guilty”. Dieter knows that we are all speaking of actual innocence, those cases that have no connection to the murder(s). He takes advantage of that by redefining exonerated and innocence.

    Dieter “clarifies” the three ways that former death row inmates get onto their “exonerated” by “innocence” list.

    “A defendant whose conviction is overturned by a judge must be further exonerated in one of three ways: he must be acquitted at a new trial, or the prosecutor must drop the charges against him, or a governor must grant an absolute pardon.”

    None establishes actual innocence.

    DPIC has ” . . . included supposedly innocent defendants who were still culpable as accomplices to the actual triggerman.”

    DPIC: “There may be guilty persons among the innocents, but that includes all of us.”

    Good grief. DPIC wishes to apply collective guilt of capital murder to all of us.

    Dieter states: “I don’t think anybody can know about a person’s absolute innocence.” (Green). Dieter said he could not pinpoint how many are “actually innocent” — only the defendants themselves truly know that, he said.” (Erickson)

    Or Dieter won’t assert actual innocence in 1, 102 or 350 cases. He doesn’t want to clarify a real number with proof of actual innocence, that would blow his entire deception.

    Or, Dieter declare all innocent: “If you are not proven guilty in a court of law, you’re innocent.” (Green)

    Dieter would call Hitler and Stalin innocent. Those are his “standards”.

    And that is the credibility of the DPIC.

    For fact checking.

    1. “Case Histories: A Review of 24 Individuals Released from Death Row”, Florida Commission on Capital Cases, 6/20/02, Revised 9/10/02 at http://www.floridacapitalcases.state.fl.us/Publications/innocentsproject.pdf

    83% error rate in “innocent” claims.

    2. “Is ‘the innocence list’ an appropriate name?”, 1/19/03
    FRANK GREEN, TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
    http://www.stopcapitalpunishment.org/coverage/106.html

    Dieter admits they don’t discern between legal innocence and actual innocence. One of Dieter’s funnier quotes;”The prosecutor, perhaps, or Dudley Sharp, perhaps, thinks they’re still guilty because there was evidence of their guilt, but that’s a subjective judgment.” Yep, “EVIDENCE OF GUILT”, can’t you see why Dieter would think they were innocent? And that’s how the DPIC works.

    3. The Death of Innocents: A Reasonable Doubt,
    New York Times Book Review, p 29, 1/23/05, Adam Liptak,
    national legal correspondent for The NY Times

    “To be sure, 30 or 40 categorically innocent people have been released from death row . . . “.

    That is out of the DPIC claimed 119 “exonerated”, at that time, for a 75% error rate.

    NOTE: It’s hard to understand how an absolute can have a differential of 33%. I suggest the “to be sure” is, now, closer to 25.

    4. CRITIQUE OF DPIC LIST (“INNOCENCE:FREED FROM DEATH ROW”), Ward Campbell, http://www.prodeathpenalty.com/DPIC.htm

    5. “The Death Penalty Debate in Illinois”, JJKinsella,6/2000, http://www.dcba.org/brief/junissue/2000/art010600.htm

    6.THE DEATH PENALTY – ALL INNOCENCE ISSUES, Dudley Sharp
    http://homicidesurvivors.com/2006/03/20/all-innocence-issues–the-death-penalty.aspx

    Origins of “innocence” fraud, and review of many innocence issues

    7. “Bad List”, Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review, 9/16/02
    http://www.nationalreview.com/advance/advance091602.asp#title5

    How bad is DPIC?

    8. “Not so Innocent”, By Ramesh Ponnuru,National Review, 10/1/02
    http://www.nationalreview.com/ponnuru/ponnuru100102.asp

    DPIC from bad to worse.

    Dudley Sharp

  29. Billy Howard

    Keith: Thanks for picking up the mantle on this one. I have to admit feeling a bit over my head in this debate but you distilled and expressed beautifully my own thoughts and reaffirmed my gut feelings in this case. Regardless of Davis’ guilt or innocence, our reliance on the state of Georgia, or any state for that matter, to have the wisdom to decide if a person’s life should be extinguished for eternity is absurd. Any person who has read John Grisham’s book “The Innocent Man” would be hard pressed to believe the judicial system is impartial in matters of life and death, and not being impartial, we have no business making such irrevocable decisions.
    Had the death penalty not been an option, Davis could have received life without parole, the ultimate punishment for the crime and the victim’s family could have moved on from the case and concentrated on healing. If the only purpose of the death penalty is revenge for the survivors then a great deal of the state’s time and resources are being directed toward vengeance. Claiming that it is for public safety is dubious, unless you want to sight credible figures for a significant number of convicted murderers who have escaped custody. OK, I know, I threw in the towel, but Keith picked it up and handed it to me.

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