Thursday, September 22, 2011

RIP Troy Davis

Update: Troy Davis proclaimed his innocence and asked mercy for those about to kill him.

11:25 AJC reporter Rhonda Cook and other media witnesses report that Davis addressed the MacPhail family directly from the gurney and again proclaimed his innocence, asked mercy for those about to kill him and asked his friends and supporters to continue working to get to the truth of officer MacPhail's death.
Reading the headline Ga. Executes Davis; Supporters Claim Injusticehit me like a ton of bricks, even though I was convinced there was no stopping the killing machine this time. I'm against the death penalty, 100%, despite guilt or innocence, but the thought that this man suffered all that he suffered as an innocent man is beyond comprehension in a society that we've been led to believe is civilized. It's clearly not.

Troy Davis first showed up on my radar in 2008. Former FBI director and former Chief Judge William S. Sessions wrote an article about why Troy Davis should receive a new hearing. The fact that this pro-death penatly, seasoned law enforcement officer took the time to do this, in my humble opinion, spoke volumes.
Mr. Davis has been on death row in Georgia for more than 17 years for the murder of a police officer, and related violent crimes. I was the director of the FBI under Presidents Reagan, Bush, and Clinton, and I believe that there is no more serious violent crime than the murder of an off-duty police officer who was putting his life on the line to protect innocent bystanders.

That being said, we must be convinced that the right person has been convicted. Serious questions have been raised about Mr. Davis’s guilt. The murder weapon was never found and other important physical evidence was missing. Key witnesses made inconsistent statements, and seven out of the nine non-police witnesses have now recanted or changed their original testimony, some stating that they had been pressured by the police to implicate Mr. Davis. One of the two witnesses who has not recanted his testimony has now been implicated as the real murderer by two witnesses at trial and four new witnesses. In addition, concerns have been raised about the conduct of the police and prosecutors.

It also appears that the quality of legal representation Mr. Davis received during trial was, by his own laywer's account, seriously deficient. Whle Mr. Davis's case proceeded through the courts, the budget of the Georgia Resource Center stated in an affidavit that, "We were simply trying to avert total disaster rather than provide any kind of active or effective representation."

The courts considering Mr. Davis's case properly administered procedural rules that prevent those courts from considering claims that were not raised at the right time or in the right manner. However, these rules can be too restrictive and can prevent the courts from dispensing justice. Presently, the rules can stop the courts from hearing claims of innocence, such as in Mr. Davis's case. They can prevent the courts from hearing these claims even if the reason they were not properly raised was because of an overburdened lawyer with insufficient resources, such as in Mr. Davis's case. As a result of these procedural obstacles, no court has examined the claims Mr. Davis's current legal team has raised.

I am a member of the Constitution Project’s bipartisan Death Penalty Committee, which includes supporters of the death penalty, like me, as well as opponents. We are united in our profound concern that in recent years, and around the country, procedural safeguards and other assurances of fundamental fairness in the administration of capital punishment have been revealed to be deeply flawed. Two of our consensus findings from our report on the death penalty apply directly to Mr. Davis’s case. First, we condemned the kinds of procedural barriers that prevented the courts from addressing the merits of Mr. Davis’s case and we recommended that they be eliminated. Second, we insisted that capital defendants have competent lawyers with adequate resources, which Mr. Davis’s own lawyer stated (through no fault of his own) was not provided in his case.

Former Chief Justice William Rehnquist once wrote that the judicial system, “like the human beings who administer it, is fallible.” I agree. Especially when it comes to a human life, the courts should always be able to examine claims of innocence.

On September 12, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied Mr. Davis’ petition for clemency and scheduled his execution for September 23 at 7 p.m. Two hours before the execution was to take place, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay of execution until it could vote on whether to grant a writ of certiorari — that is, to decide to hear his case.

I hope the Court will grant certiorari to avoid a miscarriage of justice. At the very least, Mr. Davis’ substantive claims must be examined. The political process has failed Mr. Davis. Let us hope that the court of last resort rises to the challenge.

For every six people executed in Georgia since 1973, one has been exonerated. Misconduct by police and prosecutors played a major role in Georgia’s death row exoneration cases. And like most of those on death row today, many of Georgia’s wrongfully convicted could not afford a private attorney. Georgia does not guarantee counsel in the appeals process – even if the inmate has new evidence of innocence.

Where is the Justice for me?
A plea from Troy Davis

Where is the Justice for me? In 1989 I surrendered myself to the police for crimes I knew I was innocent of in an effort to seek justice through the court system in Savannah, Georgia USA. But like so many death penalty cases, that was not my fate and I have been denied justice. During my imprisonment I have lost more than my freedom, I lost my father and my family has suffered terribly, many times being treated as less than human and even as criminals. In the past I have had lawyers who refused my input, and would not represent me in the manner that I wanted to be represented. I have had witnesses against me threatened into making false statements to seal my death sentence and witnesses who wanted to tell the truth were vilified in court.

For the entire two years I was in jail awaiting trial I wore a handmade cross around my neck, it gave me peace and when a news reporter made a statement in the local news, “Cop-killer wears cross to court,” the cross was immediately taken as if I was unworthy to believe in God or him in me. The only time my family was allowed to enter the courtroom on my behalf was during the sentencing phase where my mother and sister had to beg for my life and the prosecutor simply said, “I was only fit for killing.” Where is the Justice for me, when the courts have refused to allow me relief when multiple witnesses have recanted their testimonies that they lied against me?

Because of the Anti-Terrorism Bill, the blatant racism and bias in the U.S. Court System, I remain on death row in spite of a compelling case of my innocence. Finally I have a private law firm trying to help save my life in the court system, but it is like no one wants to admit the system made another grave mistake. Am I to be made an example of to save face? Does anyone care about my family who has been victimized by this death sentence for over 16 years? Does anyone care that my family has the fate of knowing the time and manner by which I may be killed by the state of Georgia?

I truly understand a life has been lost and I have prayed for that family just as I pray for mine, but I am Innocent and all I ask for is a True Day in a Just Court. If I am so guilty why do the courts deny me that? The truth is that they have no real case; the truth is I am Innocent.

Where is the Justice for me?

By Troy A. Davis


Anonymous,  00:13  

How are you so sure he's innocent? You have no idea. He may have killed that policeman, which means that you're lamenting a cop-killer.

Anonymous,  15:51  

So sad, even if the man did kill the cop, there wasn't enough evidence to support the crime. Cops get killed, why is this such an issue over a civilian getting killed? This type of "revenge" execution is sicker than the original crime.

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