Category Archives: Justice Denied

The Conservative Double Whammy

For several weeks now, the American Legion has been running adds asking for donations – $20 a month – to help wounded veterans from the Iraq war. Nothing wrong with that but this: the core of their pitch is that “we” made promises to take care of them that “we” didn’t keep and now it’s time for “all of us” to step up and keep “our” word to those harmed when they were in “our” service.

The tone is one of finger-wagging accusation and “you oughta be ashamed of ourself” sadness that “we” let down “our” vets by cutting the medical benefits they were supposed to get. Sounds like AL is doing its patriotic duty toward our fighting men, doesn’t it? But here’s the rub: “we” didn’t cut those services. The people who did – Republicans and conservative Democrats in Congress – were universally supported, financially and otherwise, by the same American Legion that is now tut-tutting at us for allowing it to happen. Continue reading

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The Troy Davis Conundrum (Updated)

Thomas Nephew at newsrack thinks there may be more hope in the Supreme Court’s language than I do, and he has a point.

To repeat the charge to the district court, the Supreme Court ruling states that “[t]he District Court should receive testimony and make findings of fact as to whether evidence that could not have been obtained at the time of trial clearly establishes petitioner’s innocence(emphases added).

It seems to me this is a more hopeful situation than either Mick Arran or Robert (in another comment at the prior post) suppose it to be.  While the framing of the question would seem to turn the usual presumption of innocence on its head (as Robert notes), it at least doesn’t necessarily change the definition of legal innocence, which remains “guilt not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”

On that score, Mick suggests that “[w]hether a new trial will be granted, then, rests on whether or not the judge will consider the recantation of potentially perjured testimony on the part of witnesses coerced by police to be “new evidence”.” But while Mick is right that “the only new evidence is that the old evidence was bogus,” … that might be good enough.  That’s because the Court didn’t actually ask for “new” evidence, it asked for evidence that couldn’t have been obtained at the time; absent mind reading skills, of course perjured testimony can’t be recognized as such at the time.

So it seems to me a district court may reasonably follow this decision’s instructions and find that seven of nine pillars of the prosecution’s case have been washed away, establishing reasonable doubt and legal innocence; the Court seems to emphasize that in this case, at least, it is incorrect to “[assume] as a matter of fact that petitioner Davis is guilty of the murder of Officer MacPhail … even though seven of the State’s key witnesses have recanted their trial testimony.” But enough of my Perry Mason impression.  For better informed analyses of the legal implications, see publius and Lee Kovarsky (at ‘Obsidian Wings’), bmaz (at ‘emptywheel’), Josh Patashnik at The New Republic, and/or Lyle Denniston (at ‘SCOTUSBlog’).

I’m not now saying – and wasn’t originally – that Thomas’ interpretation is inaccurate. It isn’t. But I should perhaps have made myself clearer for those living outside Georgia: it isn’t the legal meaning of the language I’m concerned with so much as I am concerned about the way it can be interpreted by people looking for an excuse to end this case.

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Troy Davis May Get New Trial

After several weeks of dicking around, the Supreme Court has sent Troy Davis’ case back to Georgia. Continue reading

“They’s Jist Niggahs And Who’s Gonna Lissen to a Niggah?”

I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t been looking in the right places or because there’s so much more of it around or because Barack Obama’s election made people – especially reporters and editors – braver about reporting this shit but there has been a mini-explosion of stories this week about racist cops, all of them ugly and all but one in the state of the union which I really wish we had let secede – Texas. Here are but three of them.

1. Take That, Granpaw

From The Field Negro comes a brutal and bewildering story out of Louisiana. You remember Louisiana, right? Jena? The nooses? The right-wing dismissing them as a “joke” or claiming racism doesn’t exist and it was all getting blown out of proportion? Well, this story from Homer may help put things in perspective.

An unarmed 73-yr-old man was murdered by a police officer in the man’s own backyard and the perp’s fellow officers covered up the crime in full view of the neighbors.

monroeHOMER, La.—On the last afternoon of his life, Bernard Monroe was hosting a cookout for family and friends in front of his dilapidated home on Adams Street in this small northern Louisiana town.

Throat cancer had robbed the 73-year-old retired electric utility worker of his voice years ago, but family members said Monroe was clearly enjoying the commotion of a dozen of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren cavorting around him in the dusty, grassless yard.

Then the Homer police showed up, two white officers whose arrival caused the participants at the black family gathering to quickly fall silent.

Within moments, Monroe lay dead, shot by one of the officers as his family looked on.

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Federal Court Hears Arguments for New Davis Trial

After a long, drawn-out battle with a state that was dead set against even considering the possibility that it had made a mistake, Troy Davis and his supporters won a major victory when they convinced a Federal court to hear arguments over whether there was enough evidence of a botched prosecution to justify a new trial. Today, that court heard those arguments.

Federal judges weighed Tuesday whether condemned inmate Troy Davis has presented enough evidence to stop his execution.Last month, a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta halted Davis’s scheduled execution — the third time his life was spared shortly before he was to be put to death. The judges called their stay “conditional” and scheduled arguments on the appeal.

One judge, Joel Dubina of Montgomery, indicated Tuesday he did not think Davis’s claims are compelling enough to warrant a new court hearing. Another judge, Rosemary Barkett of Miami, said she would like to see Davis’s innocence claims fleshed out in court.

The third judge, Stanley Marcus of Miami, closely questioned lawyers as to whether Davis had cleared the enormously difficult legal thresholds needed to allow his appeal to go any further.

Sounds like a split court. Dubina, a Bush I appointee, thinks not. Barkett, a Clinton appointee, thinks yes. And nobody knows what Marcus, another Clintonite, thinks. He seems to be keying on technical aspects and they can go either way in a case like this.

Still, Troy Davis is still alive and his lawyers have a strong case to present to a Federal court that for once isn’t loaded down with W’s ultraconservative ideologues.

Davis deserves a new trial. The first one was a travesty that Georgia should be ashamed of.

Troy Davis Execution Date Set: BOYCOTT COCA COLA

As I noted elsewhere, the Bush/Reagan Supreme Court turned down Troy Davis’ appeal for a new trial and did so without comment, as if they didn’t need to explain why they’re allowing an execution to go forward in a case where the evidence was so insubstantial as to be non-existant and 4/5 of the witnesses recanted, claiming they’d been pressured by police and coached by prosecutors eager for a conviction.

Yesterday afternoon, Judge Penny Haas Freesemann rescheduled Davis’ execution date, setting it for the 27th of this month.

The State of Georgia is owed very little respect for the way this has been handled. Along with its other shameful acts – trying to bar the teaching of evolution in public school science classes, or allowing the GOP to steal both Senate seats as well as the governorship with doctored e-voting machines, slime campaigns, and vote caging, for examples – it is prepared to execute an almost certainly innocent man on skimpier evidence than would be required to make you pay a traffic fine.

The GOP has gone way too far, and killing a man to keep from embarrassing the cops who were played for suckers by Red Coles and the prosecutor who may have intimidated witnesses to get a conviction is a good place to get them to stop. We’ve had enough of this revenge crap, we’ve had enough of innocent people dying so the Pubs can claim they’re fighting crime – a bad, sick joke considering how many of them have been caught breaking the law, right up to the president.

I’ve been saying for a while that it’s time to fight back but it was TMiss who came up with a way to do it. Let Sonny Perdue and Coke know we’ll start a boycott of Coca Cola if Davis dies.

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Troy Davis Appeal Rejected by SCOTUS

It was never much of a chance, not with the robotic law-and-order types conservatives have been able to get assigned to the US Supreme Court filling up the seats, but it was a chance. If there was enough pressure, enough noise, enough people asking uncomfortable questions, maybe even Fat Tony Scalia might have reconsidered for the sake of his almost certainly unpleasant legacy the way he did over some labor law – which he hates – when a woman got screwed. Again.

But it wasn’t much of a chance and now it’s over. The Supreme Court has refused to hear Troy Davis’ appeal for a new trial.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the way for Troy Anthony Davis’ execution, declining to enter a contentious debate as to whether the condemned inmate was the real killer of a Savannah police officer in 1989.

The court, without explanation, refused to hear his appeal even though seven of nine key prosecution witnesses have recanted their testimony since the 1991 trial. Just three weeks ago, the high court had halted Davis’ execution with less than two hours to spare.

The family of the dead officer, Mark MacPhail, is thrilled. They want Davis dead whether he’s the right guy or not, mainly because they want their part of this ordeal to be over.

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