[Ppnews] New Troy Davis hearing this week

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jun 21 13:09:28 EDT 2010

2 articles follow

New Troy Davis hearing this week in cop's death

By <mailto:brankin at ajc.com>Bill Rankin

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
12:00 p.m. Monday, June 21, 2010

Troy Anthony Davis returns this week to Savannah, 
where he was convicted and sentenced to death 
almost two decades ago for killing an off-duty 
police officer during a late-night melee in a Burger King parking lot.

For more than a decade, Davis has sought to 
present his claims of innocence, including the 
recantations of seven key prosecution witnesses, 
in court. On Wednesday, in U.S. District Court in 
Savannah, thanks to an extraordinary ruling last 
year by the nation's highest court, he will finally get that chance.

Davis' innocence claims have attracted 
international attention, including calls from 
former President Jimmy Carter and Pope Benedict 
XVI that he be spared from execution. Last 
August, for the first time in nearly half a 
century, and the first time ever in a 
death-penalty case, the U.S. Supreme Court took a 
case filed directly to its docket. It accepted 
Davis' last-ditch plea because Davis had exhausted all his appeals.

The high court ordered a federal judge to convene 
a hearing and take evidence to determine whether 
Davis' new claims "clearly establish" his 
innocence -- a high legal threshold to overcome.

Justice John Paul Stevens noted that no state or 
federal court had heard the new testimony and 
assessed its reliability. "The substantial risk 
of putting an innocent man to death clearly 
provides an adequate justification for holding an 
evidentiary hearing," wrote Stevens, who was 
joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.

Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by Justice 
Clarence Thomas, dissented, calling the hearing a 
"fool's errand" because Davis' innocence claim is "a sure loser."

Davis lost two prior challenges to his conviction 
and death sentence by razor-thin margins. In 
2008, the Georgia Supreme Court rejected Davis' 
bid by a 4-3 vote and, a year later, the federal 
appeals court in Atlanta denied his appeal by a 2-1 vote.

In recent years, Davis' scheduled execution has 
been halted three times shortly before it was to 
be carried out -- on one occasion just two hours 
before he was to be put to death by lethal injection.

U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr., who 
will hear the case, is not expected to make an 
immediate ruling. He has instructed parties that 
he wants them to file legal briefs after the 
hearing is over. He also told the lawyers that 
because he has already read the trial record and 
the legal pleadings in the case, he expects them 
to come to his courtroom and "immediately" enter 
into the presentation of evidence.

"Certainly, Mr. Davis and his attorneys have a 
very difficult burden ahead of them," said Howard 
Bashman, a Philadelphia attorney who operates a 
Web site devoted entirely to appellate 
litigation. "They have to show far more than 
there are serious doubts over the validity of the 
conviction. They have to show that the new 
evidence clearly establishes Mr. Davis' innocence."

Davis sits on death row for the Aug. 19, 1989, 
killing of Officer Mark Allen MacPhail. MacPhail 
was gunned down after he ran to the fast-food 
restaurant parking lot after hearing pleas from a 
homeless man who was being pistol-whipped. 
MacPhail, 27, was shot multiple times before he 
was able to unholster his weapon.
Find this article at:


A Visit with Troy Davis

States | Posted by: 
Moye, June 21, 2010 at 9:57 AM

This Wednesday, an amazingly historic hearing 
will begin here in Savannah, Georgia where I will 
be all week.  The U.S. Supreme Court ordered the 
Savannah federal district court to hold an 
evidentiary hearing to give death row prisoner 
Davis an opportunity to present his innocence claim.

Troy Davis' sister Martina Correia with Laura 
Moye outside Georgia Diagnostic and 
Classification Prison where death row is housed in Jackson, Georgia

I visited Troy along with his family yesterday 
and asked him how he was doing.  He seemed fairly 
calm, but not sure how to feel.  His life has 
been on a rollercoaster ride ever since he was 
implicated for the murder of a police officer 
twenty-one years ago.  Three years ago, when 
Amnesty International first started campaigning 
intensively on his case, an execution was 
scheduled then stayed.  This happened two more 
times in the next two years.  I’m not sure how I 
would feel either given the ups and downs of our 
justice system.  But I did detect hope, which he 
has held onto these nineteen years on death row.

This was my second visit to Troy.  It was a 
strange place to be on Father’s Day.  But once I 
walked through the numerous double-gated areas to 
find the Davis family gathered around him, it 
felt oddly normal to be in their midst on this 
family-oriented holiday.  Troy was playing jokes 
on his two-year old niece, a bundle of energy 
that the whole Davis clan watches over and dotes 
on so fondly.  He has clearly been a source of 
support for his teenage nephew whom he checks on 
regularly to ensure he’s doing well in 
school.  And it’s this remarkable family, so full 
of love and commitment to each other, and to 
their faith, that accounts for the life that 
remains in Troy’s eyes, despite all that he has faced.

The hearing is a serious opportunity for the 
doors of justice to open, but it won’t be 
easy.  He’ll have to prove that he is 
innocent.  In a trial, the state would have the 
burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable 
doubt.  And just what this legal standard of 
“clearly establishing innocence” means is a 
matter for the judge at the hearing to determine.

I hope to get a seat in the courtroom while the 
hearing is under way; though, there are likely to 
be throngs of people wanting to get in.  I 
sincerely hope that the hearing will shed more 
light on what happened the night of the tragic 
murder of off-duty police officer Mark 
MacPhail.  Both families have been waiting for 
justice and it’s time for the doubts to be addressed.

It is very sad that Troy’s family has had to 
think about the possibility of losing someone 
they love, someone who is clearly an active 
participant in their lives.  Being in the prison 
reminded me of how the death penalty creates more 
victims – the innocent families of the 
accused.  I have no idea what Father’s Day is 
like for the MacPhail’s and I wouldn’t pretend to 
know.  Justice has been a long time coming for 
them too.  And I really don’t know what to expect 
this week as the hearing draws closer, but I 
sincerely hope that learning more of the truth 
will lead to a more robust justice and help the 
healing of both families and of the larger community.

Freedom Archives
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