The Georgia state parole board announced today that they’re putting off consideration of a clemency hearing for Troy Davis, convicted of killing a cop on eyewitness testimony that was questionable at best and coerced by angry police at worst. The postponement comes because on Friday, the Georgia Supreme Court agreed to hear Davis’ appeal for a new trial based on the recent recantation of witness’ testimony.
The hearing is now postponed until the board takes up the issue again. The 90-day stay of execution was also rescinded. In an order signed Monday, the board said its rules allow it to consider a clemency petition only when it appears all appeals through the courts have been exhausted.
On Friday, the state Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, agreed to consider Davis’ case. He is appealing a ruling in July by a Chatham County judge who denied his extraordinary motion for a new trial. The state Supreme Court will hear arguments on the appeal sometime this fall.
Frankly, what the Supreme Court should be considering is censure of the prosecutor who presented evidence from witnesses they had intimidated and then instructed in what to say. The story of this case is the story of a reversion by police to the bad old days when they used to routinely decide who was guilty and then manufacture the evidence to fit their conclusions. We thought we had moved past all that sort of “vigilante justice” and that police depts throughout the country had worked hard to bring more professionalism to their investigations.
In most places, that would seem to be the case, and perhaps it’s the case in Atlanta as well in a majority of instances. But in this case. they were investigating the death of one of their own. They were angry and determined to find a culprit, which is understandable, but in their eagerness they grabbed the wrong guy and fabricated a case against him.
It’s the prosecutor’s job to examine the evidence and its probable worth before trial. He clearly didn’t do that. He took the “evidence” at face value and may even have helped further intimidate the witnesses in order to get a quick verdict. That’s what created the travesty of justice that is the Troy Davis case, and at the very least he should be reprimanded.
Somehow I doubt he will be. Not in conservative Georgia. Not with a black defendant in a state whose legal motto seems to be “guilty until proven innocent”.