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Did Texas execute an innocent man? Film revisits a haunting question.

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Texans will have an opportunity to revisit a question that should haunt anyone who believes in the integrity of our criminal justice system: Did our state execute an innocent man? 
The new film “Trial by Fire” tells the true story of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was sentenced to death for setting a fire to his home in Corsicana that killed his three young daughters in 1991. The film is based on an investigative story by David Grann that appeared in the New Yorker in 2009, five years after Willingham was executed over his vociferous protestations of innocence.
In my experience of serving 8 years on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and 4 years as a state district judge in Travis County, the Willingham case stands out to me for many of the same reasons it stood out to filmmaker Edward Zwick, who calls it a veritable catalogue of everything that’s wrong with the criminal justice system and, especially, the death penalty. False testimony, junk science, a jailhouse informant, and ineffe…

Appeals to China Intensify in Effort to Spare Briton

LONDON — Five days before a British man is scheduled to be executed in China for heroin smuggling, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has joined members of the man’s family and human rights organizations in renewing appeals for clemency.

They say Chinese courts failed to give adequate weight to the man’s history of mental disturbance or to his claim that he was duped into carrying the heroin by a drug gang.

But Chinese officials have rejected the appeals, saying that the execution of the Briton, Akmal Shaikh, 53, will go ahead on Tuesday.

Full story here.

Source: The New York Times, December 24, 2009

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