Troy Davis Gets 90 Day Stay of Execution
The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Parole has granted Troy Davis, scheduled for execution tomorrow, a 90 day stay of execution.
The stay means the execution will be on hold while the board weighs the evidence presented as part of Davis' request for clemency. The board must rule by Oct. 14.
That's what his lawyers were asking for all along, a chance to present their evidence. The actual order is here (pdf).
Original Post 8:00 am :
Executioner's Clock Still Ticking for Troy Davis
Troy Davis is scheduled to be executed in Georgia on Tuesday. Time is running out as concern grows among his supporters that Davis is innocent. Witnesses against him have recanted, some stating their testimony against him was the product of police coercion.
Three of four witnesses who testified at trial that Davis shot the officer have signed statements contradicting their identification of the gunman. Two other witnesses -- a fellow inmate and a neighborhood acquaintance who told police that Davis had confessed to the shooting -- have said they made it up.
Other witnesses point the finger not at Davis but at another man. Yet none has testified during his appeals because federal courts barred their testimony.
AEDPA, the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Death Penalty Enforcement Act, signed into law by then President Clinton in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City Bombing and intended for Timothy McVeigh, is the culprit.
Before the law, the federal courts intervened to provide "relief" to death row inmates -- that is, a new trial, new sentencing hearing or a commutation of the sentence to life imprisonment -- in about 45 percent of cases, though the rate was declining. But between 2000 and 2007, federal courts intervened to provide such relief to the death row inmate in about 10 percent of cases, according to a forthcoming study.
The law has prevented the Courts from considering new evidence in Troy Davis's case. As I've opined many times here, we should never enact laws as an emotional response to a single tragedy, no matter how horrific. Cooler heads are needed.
In 1895, the United States Supreme Court decided Coffin v. United States, in which it traced the presumption of innocence and the phrase “It is better that X number of guilty men go free than one innocent person be put to death” past England, Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, and according to one scholar, Greenleaf, to Deuteronomy.
It's time to reconsider the harshness of the habeas restrictions in AEDPA and its one-year limitation period for filing a state prisoner’s federal habeas corpus petition. For a blog devoted to AEDPA issues, check out the AEDPA Law and Policy Blog. Scotus Blog discusses the current state of AEDPA constitutional challenges here.
Mike King, in an Atlanta Journal Constitution op-ed this week urging intervention for Troy Davis, reminds us,
Over the years, 124 death row inmates have been released from state prisons after evidence proved their innocence. Police, prosecutors, judges, witnesses and juries make mistakes, but those mistakes can never be reversed once a death sentence is carried out.
As to how Troy Davis is faring as the executioner's clock keeps ticking:
I just think they made a mistake in the investigation," Davis said by phone last week. "I'm just trying to hold up. . . . I'm trying to maintain my faith that God will step in and soften the judge's heart."
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