Texas Executes 400th Inmate

Update: Texas executed its 400th inmate today, Johnny Ray Connor.

European Union Urges Halt to Texecutions

As Texas is about to execute its 400th prisoner, the President of the European Union issued this statement yesterday calling for an end to Texas executions.

We believe that elimination of the death penalty is fundamental to the protection of human dignity, and to the progressive development of human rights. We further consider this punishment to be cruel and inhumane. There is no evidence to suggest that the use of the death penalty serves as a deterrent against violent crime and the irreversibility of the punishment means that miscarriages of justice - which are inevitable in all legal systems – cannot be redressed. Consequently, the death penalty has been abolished throughout the European Union.

Joining in the statement:

The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Azerbaijan align themselves with this declaration.

Johnny Ray Connor is scheduled for execution in Texas today.


The Houston Chronicle reports on his case which raises the issue of whether he received ineffective assistance of counsel ineffective assistance of counsel that may have led to the jury's reliance on faulty witness identification of Conner in reaching its verdict.

During Conner's trial, none of the witnesses mentioned the gunman had a limp. But, then again, none of them was asked.

A federal judge in 2005 ruled that Conner deserved another trial because his defense attorneys failed to investigate Conner's medical record. His trial attorneys said they never noticed Conner limp and he only mentioned the issue in passing and never to dispute the witnesses' testimony. The 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals overturned the federal judge's decision without addressing the attorneys' performance. Now the issue rests with the Supreme Court.

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  • Display: Sort:
    On the whole, I think Texas... (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Dadler on Wed Aug 22, 2007 at 11:36:06 AM EST
    ...holds the opinion of Al Qeada in higher regard than it does Europe's.

    I can see a return to freedom fries in Dallas.

    Pay attention (1.00 / 1) (#3)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Aug 22, 2007 at 12:48:08 PM EST
    the French are now trying to kiss and make up...

    Yes (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by squeaky on Wed Aug 22, 2007 at 05:34:15 PM EST
    the French are now trying to kiss and make up...

    The Frence are affording the US an opportunity to wipe the egg off their face without calling attention to the fact that they were right all along.  


    Oui, oui (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by scarshapedstar on Wed Aug 22, 2007 at 07:56:23 PM EST
    They're so embarrassed about that whole "Saddam's Nukes" thing. Boy, is their collective face red.



    scar (1.00 / 0) (#9)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Aug 22, 2007 at 10:35:32 PM EST
    Perhaps they will crack down on "honor killings" of Moslem female family members to demonstrate their strong desire for justice.



    Yeah, they should (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by jondee on Thu Aug 23, 2007 at 11:58:46 AM EST
    get with the program and use the Red State method of beating them to death in a drunken rage, and then finding someone, anyone to execute for the crime.

    jondee (none / 0) (#24)
    by glanton on Thu Aug 23, 2007 at 09:47:12 PM EST
    I like your posts man but that isn't fair.

    That (none / 0) (#11)
    by glanton on Wed Aug 22, 2007 at 10:59:37 PM EST
    is something worth hoping for.

    Kissing and Making Up (none / 0) (#4)
    by glanton on Wed Aug 22, 2007 at 01:02:13 PM EST
    If the freedom fries types have come to feel like their butts are being thoroughly kissed by the French... then who knows what kind of relationship might be possible in the future?

    Excellent! (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by cmpnwtr on Wed Aug 22, 2007 at 12:10:23 PM EST
    If the EU declares Texas a pariah state and imposes trade sanctions because of their terrible human rights record, then maybe it will give pause. A great precedent and raiser of consciousness.

    are they planning on (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by cpinva on Wed Aug 22, 2007 at 05:24:47 PM EST
    broadcasting this locally? maybe a special "pay-per-view" texas HBO special? who has the drink and snack concession contract? is there an undercard of floggings? do they hold a lottery, to decide who gets to be the guest executioner?

    hey, people want to know, dammit!

    truly, executions just haven't been the same, since they took them private. the pomp, the spectacle, the circus-like, wholesome family atmosphere, lost, lost..............

    Norway's Oil Fund (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Scott Cobb on Wed Aug 22, 2007 at 06:53:56 PM EST
    One way that pressure from at least one European country could be exerted on the death penalty in the U.S. would be by Norway using the influence it has from investments of its oil-funded pension fund.

    Norway's Oil Fund, the EU and the Death Penalty

    After reading an article in The New York Times about Norway divesting from companies involved in unethical businesses such as producing cluster bombs, nuclear weapons or related components, Texas Moratorium Network initiated communication this summer with a journalist in Norway regarding the possibility of Norway using its Oil Fund to affect death penalty policy in the United States.

    The Norwegian government has instituted ethical guidelines for how its Government Pension Fund - Global should be invested. Here is a speech by the Norwegian Finance Minister, Kristin Halvorsen, on the Ethical Guidelines in which she says that divestment from certain companies "is a measure of last resort, to be used in cases where the Fund runs an unacceptable risk of being complicit in grossly unethical activities."

    Cobb (1.00 / 1) (#10)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Aug 22, 2007 at 10:39:25 PM EST
    You know, when I read such utter BS I am commanded to say:

    I wish to hell we had let the Soviets have them for a few years.

    Wouldn't have changed the outcome and would have done wonders for the attitudes of a bunch of people who got a free pass.


    Free pass? (5.00 / 0) (#13)
    by Al on Thu Aug 23, 2007 at 01:55:45 AM EST
    What do you mean?

    Al (none / 0) (#19)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Aug 23, 2007 at 09:33:47 AM EST
    If you look at the Cold War, Norway wasn't gobbled up by the Soviets because of the defense provided by the west, principally the US.

    See the point?


    Gen Pinochet (none / 0) (#22)
    by jondee on Thu Aug 23, 2007 at 12:17:41 PM EST
    says contrary opinions are only allowable during peace time. Unfortunatly, it's never peacetime.

    Right On Norway! (none / 0) (#12)
    by tnthorpe on Thu Aug 23, 2007 at 01:02:30 AM EST
    The death penalty in America is a form of apartheid and disinvestment is a good response. The best response would be to toss that horrid practice into the dustbin of history.

    sounds good in theory. (none / 0) (#14)
    by cpinva on Thu Aug 23, 2007 at 02:08:19 AM EST
    however, in practice, theory and practice are rarely the same. if i were a beneficiary of this pension fund, i might be a tad ticked off, unless there was a vote on this, and there's no mention of one.

    i might be so ticked off, i'd sue for violation of fiduciary duty; the responsibility of the fund manager(s) to get the best, safest possible return on the fund's investments, for the beneficiaries, who they work for. and i might well win.

    the bottom line: absent a vote of the owners (beneficiaries), it isn't the fund manager's job to insert their personal morals into the investment process, unless it's part of the plan, or serves to increase fund worth.


    Not necessarily (none / 0) (#15)
    by Peaches on Thu Aug 23, 2007 at 08:14:50 AM EST
    the responsibility of the fund manager(s) to get the best, safest possible return on the fund's investments, for the beneficiaries, who they work for.

    There is no ethical component in markets unless we put them there. There is nothing illegal about putting ethical guidelines on hows money is invested for pension funds that I am aware of. Once those guidlelines are in place then the responsibility of the fund manager is to get the best, safest possible return subject to those guidelines. If you sued for  the Norway government for violation of fiduciary duty and won, I might not be surprised, but this would merely validate the hold money-intersts and markets have on a legal system over the interests of the majority of indivduals and citizens in a society affected by how the money invested. Despite the maxim that maximizations of profits is the mark of efficient markets, it is not the mark of a democratic society when there are ethical violations of the majority. Rich people and money does need protection from democracy and likewise, democracy and citizens need protection from free markets. That is the balance. Ethical guidelines (and, of course, lawsuits against those imposing these guidelines) are means for achieving this balance. I favor democracy over money, as should - I believe- the majority of citizens in a democracy.


    An example (none / 0) (#17)
    by Peaches on Thu Aug 23, 2007 at 08:48:38 AM EST
    from my morning reading of the Times.

    Obviously, the removal of Mountaintops to reach coal buried underneath is profitable. Investors who don't live near these mountains of Appalachia will certainly chase profits over the environmental costs that do not affect their lifestyles. A government that is controlled by money-interests that fund large campaigns will write, sponsor and vote for regulation that allows practices leading to the maximization of profits for these investors and, thus, regulations are eased to allow more removals of mountain tops and the resulting pollution of the surrounding valleys and streams.

    Likewise the consumers of coal are mostly made up of individuals who live far enough away from these mountains, valleys and streams and their dominant desire is for cheap coal. What do the citizens of Appalachia do? They can decide not to invest in the companies that are doing these practices and even commit to not purchasing coal. But, there dollars are inconsequential and what they decide to buy as individuals will not stop the practice of mountaintop removal. So, they can work to educate consumers and investors of the horrible environmental costs of these practices while trying to write legislation prohibiting the practice. They can also put pressure on the investors of the companies undertaking these practices and pension funds are a huge source of funding for investments. Fund managers can argue that there number one priority is to get the best and safest return, but the pension members can vote for ethical guidelines affecting how the funds in their accounts are invested, favoring practices  with less environmental costs over high returns. These members are often union members with larger concerns than high returns, although high returns remains high on their lists. An obvious course of action for citizens of Appalachia is to reach out to these unions and argue in favor of placing these ethical guideline regulating how pension funds will invest their money.


    Suing a fund manager.... (none / 0) (#18)
    by kdog on Thu Aug 23, 2007 at 09:01:08 AM EST
    for refusing to make unethical, yet profitable, investments reminds me of the knuckleheads who sue a good samaritan who injures them while saving their life.

    Yes and No (none / 0) (#23)
    by tnthorpe on Thu Aug 23, 2007 at 08:02:16 PM EST
    I'd hate to have a wingnut evangelical run my portfolio, though I don't expect they sell many shares in RaptureCorp. to types like me. But, I read your post as revealing the limits of the market to address real world issues rather than the weakness of moral theory to accomodate capitalism. All a company is really responsible for, crudely put, is its bottom line, which is often in conflict with what is good, right, sustainable, animal-friendly, or people-friendly. Would you want to live next door to someone like that? In short, companies are pathologically self-interested and portray such a lack of vision as fiduciary duty. Since businesses and business PACs give money to candidates and parties all the time, justifying not taking a stand because it's not related to the bottom line on a practice that amounts to apartheid in this country  seems a poor argument.

    Scalpel v. Chainsaw (none / 0) (#16)
    by Deconstructionist on Thu Aug 23, 2007 at 08:46:10 AM EST
      A fund manager who refused to invest in or withdrew funds from a specific corporation's equity or debt for specific actions of that corporation is behaving much differently and more responsibly to his beneficiaries than one who followed generalized industry or locality boycotts.

       Boycotting any company which just happens to be based in a jurisdiction with the death penalty is wrong and likely counter-productive both for the fund and for achievement of the policy goal. You need a carrot along with the stick.

    If you recall the use of investment pressure on Apartheid South Africa, it was not a call for a boycott of any business in South Africa. The most widely known and respected "guide" for investment were the Sullivan Principles.

    The Sullivan Principles

    Non-segregation of the races in all eating, comfort, and work facilities.

    Equal and fair employment practices for all employees.

    Equal pay for all employees doing equal or comparable work for the same period of time.

    Initiation of and development of training programs that will prepare, in substantial numbers, blacks and other nonwhites for supervisory, administrative, clerical, and technical jobs.

    Increasing the number of blacks and other nonwhites in management and supervisory positions.

    Improving the quality of life for blacks and other nonwhites outside the work environment in such areas as housing, transportation, school, recreation, and health facilities.

    Working to eliminate laws and customs that impede social, economic, and political justice.


      It wasn't a simplistic:  don't invest in any SA business because SA has a racist government. It was: require SA businesses to behave a certain way in order to be considered for investment.  Obviously, the death penalty is a different issue and one (unlike the treatment of corporate employees and corporate social improvement spending) over which individual corporations have no direct control but the basic idea of look to the corporation at issue as a whole not just where it is situated still holds.