FEATURED POST

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

Image
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…

Texas reinstates inmate's death penalty after halt from Supreme Court

The Walls Unit, Huntsville, Texas
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - An inmate on death row in a Texas prison who was temporarily spared by the U.S. Supreme Court had his death sentence reinstated by a state court on Wednesday after it determined that he was competent to be executed, legal filings showed.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2017 had faulted Texas for its obsolete standard of assessing if the inmate was intellectually disabled. The Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that the execution of people who are intellectually disabled violates the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which bans cruel and unusual punishment.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest court for criminal cases which is dominated by conservatives, said in a decision on Wednesday it had revised its standards to better reflect modern medical thinking and abide by U.S. Supreme Court directives. Under its new protocols, inmate Bobby Moore, 58, can be executed, it said.

“It remains true under our newly adopted framework that a vast array of evidence in this record is inconsistent with a finding of intellectual disability,” the Texas court said in a 5-3 decision.

Cliff Sloan, attorney for Moore, said the court’s ruling is “clearly an outlier that is inconsistent with the controlling intellectual disability standards.”

The district attorney for Harris County, where Moore’s crime took place, said in an October filing with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals that Moore’s life should be spared because he was intellectually disabled.

Moore was convicted at age 20 of fatally shooting an elderly grocery store clerk during a 1980 robbery in Houston.

In a Supreme Court ruling authored by liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in March 2017 for the Moore case, the court held that the Texas system for gauging the intellect of defendants was deficient.

Legal filings showed it was based on standards adopted about a quarter century ago.

The Supreme Court decision came about a month after it gave another Texas death row inmate, Duane Buck, a chance to avoid execution because his trial was tainted by testimony from a psychologist who stated Buck was more likely to commit future crimes because he is black.

Chief Justice John Roberts denounced the “noxious strain of racial prejudice” seen in that case. Moore is also black.

Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, Texas has executed 551 inmates, the most of any state. The figure is about five times higher than the state with the second most executions, Virginia, according to the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center.

Source: Reuters, Jon Herskovitz, June 6, 2018


⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!



"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

New Hampshire: Just two votes away from death penalty repeal

Lindsay Sandiford, 62, on Bali death row for 6 years, 'just wants to die'

Florida executes Bobby Joe Long

Oklahoma 'getting closer' to acquiring device necessary to carry out executions

Indonesian court sentences French drug smuggler to death

Florida: Death penalty opponents call on DeSantis to stop execution

Malaysian drug mule due to hang in Singapore gets last-minute stay of execution

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

Japan: Death sentence finalized for man over 2015 murder of 2 children

Singapore says most drug traffickers Malaysians, will not go easy on them