Re: United Emirates Port Deal

Oh I agree the death penalty is a dangerous place for the state to be in.
The problem is not the state executing a terrible person, the tragedy is
that person had did something so heinous the state MUST execute him to
protect itself.

As to an innocent being executed, name ONE SINGLE time that has happened.

Back it up too!

The following is quoted from various online resources:

There is no way to tell how many of the approximately 1,000
people executed since 1976 may also have been innocent. Courts do
not generally entertain claims of innocence when the defendant is
dead. Defense attorneys move on to other cases where clients'
lives can still be saved. Some of those with strong claims

Larry Griffin Missouri Conviction 1981 Executed 1995
A year-long investigation by the NAACP Legal Defense and
Educational Fund has uncovered evidence that Larry Griffin may
have been innocent of the crime for which he was executed by the
state of Missouri on June 21, 1995. Griffin maintained his
innocence until his death, and investigators say his case is the
strongest demonstration yet of an execution of an innocent man.
The report notes that a man injured in the same drive-by shooting
that claimed the life of Quintin Moss says Griffin was not
involved in the crime, and the first police officer on the scene
has given a new account that undermines the trial testimony of
the only witness who identified Griffin as the murderer. Based on
its findings, the NAACP has supplied the prosecution with the
names of three men it suspects committed the crime, and all three
of the suspects are currently in jail for other murders.
Prosecutor Jennifer Joyce said she has reopened the investigation
and will conduct a comprehensive review of the case over the next
few months. "There is no real doubt that we have an innocent
person. If we could go to trial on this case, if there was a
forum where we could take this to trial, we would win hands
down," stated University of Michigan law professor Samuel Gross,
who supervised the investigation into Griffin's case. (St. Louis
Post-Dispatch, July 11, 2005). Read the NAACP report on Larry
Griffin's case.

Joseph O'Dell Virginia Conviction 1986 Executed 1997
New DNA blood evidence has thrown considerable doubt on the
murder and rape conviction of O'Dell. In reviewing his case in
1991, three Supreme Court Justices, said they had doubts about
O'Dell's guilt and whether he should have been allowed to
represent himself. Without the blood evidence, there is little
linking O'Dell to the crime. In September, 1996, the 4th Circuit
of the U.S. Court of Appeals reinstated his death sentence and
upheld his conviction. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review
O'Dell's claims of innocence and held that its decision regarding
juries being told about the alternative sentence of
life-without-parole was not retroactive to his case. O'Dell asked
the state to conduct DNA tests on other pieces of evidence to
demonstrate his innocence but was refused. He was executed on
July 23rd.

David Spence Texas Conviction 1984 Executed 1997
Spence was charged with murdering three teenagers in 1982. He was
allegedly hired by a convenience store owner to kill another
girl, and killed these victims by mistake. The convenience store
owner, Muneer Deeb, was originally convicted and sentenced to
death, but then was acquitted at a re-trial. The police
lieutenant who supervised the investigation of Spence, Marvin
Horton, later concluded: "I do not think David Spence committed
this crime." Ramon Salinas, the homicide detective who actually
conducted the investigation, said: "My opinion is that David
Spence was innocent. Nothing from the investigation ever led us
to any evidence that he was involved." No physical evidence
connected Spence to the crime. The case against Spence was
pursued by a zealous narcotics cop who relied on testimony of
prison inmates who were granted favors in return for testimony.

Leo Jones Florida Convicted 1981 Executed 1998
Jones was convicted of murdering a police officer in
Jacksonville, Florida. Jones signed a confession after several
hours of police interrogation, but he later claimed the
confession was coerced. In the mid-1980s, the policeman who
arrested Jones and the detective who took his confession were
forced out of uniform for ethical violations. The policeman was
later identified by a fellow officer as an "enforcer" who had
used torture. Many witnesses came forward pointing to another
suspect in the case.

Gary Graham Texas Convicted 1981 Executed 2000
On June 23, 2000, Gary Graham was executed in Texas, despite
claims that he was innocent. Graham was 17 when he was charged
with the 1981 robbery and shooting of Bobby Lambert outside a
Houston supermarket. He was convicted primarily on the testimony
of one witness, Bernadine Skillern, who said she saw the killer's
face for a few seconds through her car windshield, from a
distance of 30 -40 feet away. Two other witnesses, both who
worked at the grocery store and said they got a good look at the
assailant, said Graham was not the killer but were never
interviewed by Graham's court appointed attorney, Ronald Mock,
and were not called to testify at trial. Three of the jurors who
voted to convict Graham signed affidavits saying they would have
voted differently had all of the evidence been available.

Cameron Willingham Texas Convicted 1992 Executed 2004
After examining evidence from the capital prosecution of Cameron
Willingham, four national arson experts have concluded that the
original investigation of Willingham's case was flawed and it is
possible the fire was accidental. The independent investigation,
reported by the Chicago Tribune, found that prosecutors and arson
investigators used arson theories that have since been repudiated
by scientific advances. Willingham was executed earlier this year
in Texas despite his consistent claims of innocence. He was
convicted of murdering his three children in a 1991 house fire.

Arson expert Gerald Hurst said, "There's nothing to suggest to
any reasonable arson investigator that this was an arson fire. It
was just a fire." Former Louisiana State University fire
instructor Kendall Ryland added, "[It] made me sick to think this
guy was executed based on this investigation.... They executed
this guy and they've just got no idea - at least not
scientifically - if he set the fire, or if the fire was even
intentionally set."

Willingham was convicted of capital murder after arson
investigators concluded that 20 indicators of arson led them to
believe that an accelerant had been used to set three separate
fires inside his home. Among the only other evidence presented by
prosecutors during the trial was testimony from jailhouse snitch
Johnny E. Webb, a drug addict on psychiatric medication, who
claimed Willingham had confessed to him in the county jail.

Some of the jurors who convicted Willingham were troubled when
told of the new case review. Juror Dorinda Brokofsky asked, "Did
anybody know about this prior to his execution? Now I will have
to live with this for the rest of my life. Maybe this man was
innocent." Prior to the execution, Willingham's defense attorneys
presented expert testimony regarding the new arson investigation
to the state's highest court, as well as to Texas Governor Rick
Perry. No relief was granted and Willingham was executed on
February 17, 2004. Coincidentally, less than a year after
Willingham's execution, arson evidence presented by some of the
same experts who had appealed for relief in Willingham's case
helped free Ernest Willis from Texas's death row. The experts
noted that the evidence in the Willingham case was nearly
identical to the evidence used to exonerate Willis. (Chicago
Tribune, December 9, 2004). Read the Chicago Tribune article. See
Innocence Case Descriptions regarding Ernest Willis' case.

Also noted:

Georgia Board To Pardon Woman 60 Years After Her Execution. The
Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has announced that it will
issue a formal pardon this month for Lena Baker (pictured), the
only woman executed in the state during the 20th century. The
document, signed by all five of the current board members, will
note that the parole board's 1945 decision to deny Baker clemency
and allow her execution was "a grievous error, as this case
called out for mercy." Baker, an African American, was executed
for the murder of Ernest Knight, a white man who hired her .
Baker was tried, convicted, and sentenced to die in one day by an
all-white, all-male jury. Baker claimed she shot Knight in
self-defense after he locked her in his gristmill and threatened
her with a metal pipe. The pardon notes that Baker "could have
been charged with voluntary manslaughter, rather than murder, for
the death of E.B. Knight." The average sentence for voluntary
manslaughter is 15 years in prison. Baker's picture and her last
words are currently displayed near the retired electric chair at
a museum at Georgia State Prison in Reidsville. (Atlanta
Journal-Constitution, August 16, 2005). See Race, Clemency and

Released from Death Row, Probable or Possible Innocence

A. Probable Innocence

Other defendants, though not exonerated completely, were released
from death row with substantial evidence of their innocence.
Generally, the defendant's conviction was overturned and then he
or she reluctantly entered a guilty plea to a lesser charge
because of the threat of possibly receiving another death
sentence. In most of these cases, no responsible person would
find them guilty. Nevertheless, unlike those enumerated above,
they are technically guilty of some degree of murder. This list
is not necessarily inclusive of all such cases.

Larry Dean Smith Oklahoma Conviction 1978 Released 1984
Smith was convicted of the murder of a man who burned to death in
a camper pick-up truck. Although he at first admitted his
involvement in the related robbery, he maintained he had nothing
to do with the murder. The U.S. Supreme Court vacated his death
sentence, and the Oklahoma Attorney General recommended that the
murder conviction be set aside. On remand, the Oklahoma Court of
Criminal Appeals refused to uphold Smith's conviction for the

*Sonia Jacobs Florida Conviction 1976 Released 1992
Jacobs and her companion, Jesse Tafero, were sentenced to death
for the murder of two policemen at a highway rest stop in 1976. A
third co-defendant received a life sentence after pleading guilty
and testifying against Jacobs and Tafero. The jury recommended a
life sentence for Jacobs, but the judge overruled the jury and
imposed death. A childhood friend and filmmaker, Micki Dickoff,
then became interested in her case. Jacobs's conviction was
overturned on a federal writ of habeas corpus in 1992. Following
the discovery that the chief prosecution witness had given
contradictory statements, the prosecutor accepted a plea in which
Jacobs did not admit guilt, and she was immediately released.
Jesse Tafero, whose conviction was based on much of the same
highly questionable evidence, had been executed in 1990 before
the evidence of innocence had been uncovered.

*Mitchell Blazak Arizona Conviction 1974 Released 1994
Blazak was originally convicted of a murder in which a ski-masked
gunman killed a bartender and a customer at a bar in Tucson in
1973. The conviction was based largely on the testimony of a
small time con man, Kenneth Pease, who was arrested for a number
of felonies in New Mexico and Arizona. Pease testified after
being granted immunity. A federal court in 1991 termed Pease's
testimony to be "a mass of contradictions." The court also ruled
that the trial judge had failed to ensure that Blazak was
competent to stand trial. Rather than pursue a new trial, the
prosecutor offered a no contest plea in September, 1994, which
allowed Blazak to be released before the end of the year. There
was some evidence that a deputy sheriff named Michael Tucker
planted hair evidence in the case. Three days after Blazak walked
out of prison, Tucker was arrested for car theft.

Anthony Scire Louisiana Conviction 1985 Released 1994
Scire was sentenced to death for hiring Clarence Smith to murder
a police informant. The chief witnesses at the trial were members
of a motorcycle gang given immunity for this and other crimes in
exchange for their testimony. The convictions of both Scire and
Smith (see #56 in Innocence Report) were overturned. At retrial,
Smith was acquitted. Scire pleaded guilty to manslaughter, while
maintaining his innocence. He was immediately released in
exchange for time served.

Victor Jimenez Nevada Conviction 1987 Scheduled release: Dec. 1,
Jimenez's first trial in 1987 ended in a hung jury. A second
trial convicted him and sentenced him to death for the stabbing
death of two men in a North Las Vegas bar. The Nevada Supreme
Court unanimously granted him a new trial in 1996 because of
police misconduct including false testimony bordering on perjury.
Rather than face the risk of a new trial, Jimenez reluctantly
entered a special plea, without admitting his guilt, on June 9,
1998 to 2d degree murder. He will be required to serve an
additional 18 months in prison and has agreed not to sue those
responsible for putting him on death row.

Joseph Spaziano Florida Conviction 1976 Not Released
Spaziano was tried for the murder of a young woman which had
occurred two years earlier. No physical evidence linked him to
the crime. He was convicted primarily on the testimony of a
drug-addicted teenager who, after hypnosis and "refreshed-memory"
interrogation, thought he recalled Spaziano describing the
murder. This witness has recently said that his testimony was
totally unreliable and not true. Hypnotically induced testimony
is no longer admissible in Florida. Death warrants have been
repeatedly signed for Spaziano, even though the jury in his case
had recommended a life sentence. In January, 1996, Florida
Circuit Court Judge O.H. Eaton granted Spaziano a new trial, and
this decision was upheld by the Florida Supreme Court on April
17, 1997. In November, 1998, Spaziano pleaded no contest to
second degree murder and was sentenced to time served. He remains
incarcerated on another charge.

*Paris Carriger Arizona Conviction 1978 Released 1999
Carriger was scheduled to die on December 6, 1995 for a murder he
steadfastly maintains he did not commit. Another man, Robert
Dunbar, twice confessed that he lied at Carriger's trial, and
that it was he who committed the murder. As a result of his
original trial testimony against Carriger, Dunbar was given
immunity for other charges. Dunbar has since died. A three judge
panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld Carriger's
death sentence, noting that while his case raised doubts, he must
prove by clear and convincing evidence that "he is unquestionably
innocent." Review of the case by the entire 9th Circuit was
granted in February, 1997. Carriger was granted a new trial by
the 9th Circuit in December, 1997 because of the new evidence. In
January, 1999, he accepted a plea to a lesser offense and was
immediately released from prison.

Andrew Mitchell Texas Conviction 1981 Released 1993; returned to
prison and then re-released 1999
Mitchell was awarded $40,000 from Smith County, Texas for
withholding evidence at his trial which led to his death sentence
in 1981. He spent 13 years on death row before the Texas Court of
Criminal Appeals threw out his conviction. Mitchell pleaded
guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and was given a 31 year
sentence. (Dallas Morning News, 1/ 19/99) He was then released to
a halfway house in early 1999 after being given credit for time

Lee Perry Farmer California Conviction 1992 Release 1999
Farmer was acquitted at a re-trial in California of capital
murder. He had spent 9 years on death row. He was, however,
convicted of burglary and being an accessory to murder. He was
credited with time already served and will be released. A federal
court had overturned his first conviction because of incompetent
counsel. Another man confessed to the murder. (Sacramento Bee,

Kerry Max Cook Texas Conviction 1978 Released Nov. 1997 Concluded
Cook was originally convicted of killing Linda Jo Edwards in
1978. In 1988, he came within 11 days of execution, when the U.S.
Supreme Court ordered the Texas Court to review its decision.
Cook's conviction was overturned in 1991. He was re-tried in
1992, but the trial ended in a hung jury. In 1993, a state
district judge ruled that prosecutors had engaged in systematic
misconduct, surpressing key evidence. In 1994, Cook was tried
again, and this time found guilty and again sentenced to death.
On Nov. 6, 1996, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed his
conviction, saying that "prosecutorial and police misconduct has
tainted this entire matter from the outset." The court ruled that
key testimony from the 1994 trial could not be used in any
further prosecution. Prior to the start of his fourth trial in
February, 1999, Cook pleaded no contest to a reduced murder
charge and was released. He continued to maintain his complete
innocence, but accepted the deal to avoid the possibility of
another wrongful conviction. Recent DNA tests from the victim
matched that of an ex-boyfriend, and not that of Cook. This
tended to contradict testimony from the ex-boyfriend.

*Lloyd Schlup Missouri Conviction 1985 Not Released
Schlup was convicted in 1985 of a murder while in prison.
However, a prison videotape shows him to be in the cafeteria
around the time of the murder at a different location. One prison
guard has testified that the tape, along with his observation of
Schlup just before he went to the cafeteria, prove he could not
have been present at the murder. Twenty other witnesses also
swear that he was not at the scene of the crime. The U.S. Supreme
Court gave Schlup the opportunity for a hearing concerning his
new evidence, despite the fact that he had exhausted his ordinary
appeals. Following the hearing in federal District Court in
December 1995, the court held that no reasonable juror would have
found Schlup guilty. On May 2, 1996, Schlup was granted a writ of
habeas corpus on the ground that his original trial attorney
failed to adequately represent him. The State of Missouri
unsuccessfully attempted to apply the new federal habeas corpus
law which was signed on April 24, 1996 to Schlup's case. Under
the new law, Schlup probably would have been executed. On the
second day of his re-trial, Mar. 23, 1999, Schlup agreed to plead
guilty to second degree murder to avoid the danger of another
death sentence. Schlup's appellate lawyer, Sean O'Brien, said he
remained convinced of Schlup's innocence.

Donald Paradis Idaho Conviction 1981 Released 2001
After spending 14 years on death row, Donald Paradis was released
from prison when his 1981 murder conviction was overturned. Judge
Gary Haman, who originally sentenced Paradis to death, came out
of retirement to accept Paradis' plea to moving the body after
the murder. Paradis, who always maintained that he was not
involved in the slaying of Kimberly Anne Palmer, was sentenced to
5 years and released for time already served.
The deal came after a federal court of appeals ruling that
Paradis was denied a fair trial because prosecutors withheld
potentially exculpatory evidence. Paradis was scheduled for
execution three times before his sentence was commuted to life
imprisonment in 1996 by then-Governor Phil Blatt who had doubts
about Paradis' guilt.

Paradis' trial lawyer, William Brown, never studied criminal law,
never tried a felony case, and never tried a case before a jury.
While representing Paradis, Brown also worked as a police
officer. His defense lasted only three hours. In addition, Dr.
Brady, the pathologist who performed the autopsy of Ms. Palmer,
testified that Palmer had been killed in Idaho, not in Washington
where Paradis had already been acquitted of the murder. Dr. Brady
was fired as a medical examiner soon after the Paradis trial when
it was discovered that he had sold human tissue for profit and
saved human blood, collected during autopsies, for use in his
garden. (Associated Press, 4/11/01 and New York Times, 4/12/01)
See also, Clemency

Charles Munsey North Carolina Conviction 1996 Died in prison
In May, 1999, Superior Court Judge Thomas Ross threw out Munsey's
murder conviction and ordered a new trial for the1993 beating
death of Shirley Weaver. The judge cited evidence that the
state's key witness had lied, that prosecutors had withheld
exculpatory evidence, and that another man's confession to the
crime was probably true. The state decided not to appeal Judge
Ross's ruling and plans to indict the man who confessed to the
murder. Munsey may have been re-tried, perhaps for a lesser
charge involving the sale of the gun used in the murder. Munsey
died in prison before an official decision was made on dropping
the charges agianst him or retrying his case.

B. Possible Innocence - Sentence Commuted

The following former death row inmates had their death sentences
commuted to life in prison because of doubts about their guilt.

Ronald S. Monroe Louisiana Conviction Commuted to Life 1989
Monroe had been convicted of murdering his next-door neighbor,
based mainly on the testimony of the woman's children. Later, the
victim's husband was convicted of killing his new wife in a
manner similar to the way in which the first woman was killed.
While inprison, the husband all but admitted killing his first
wife. Governor Buddy Roemer commuted Monroe's death sentence to
life because of doubts about his guilt.

Joseph Giarratano Virginia Convicted 1979 Commuted to life 1991
In 1979, Joseph Giarratano awoke from a drug-induced sleep and
found that his roommate Barbara Kline and her daughter had been
murdered. With no memory of the previous night, Giarratano
assumed he had killed the two. He turned himself into the police
and confessed. New evidence, however, suggests that Giarratano is
innocent. His confessions contradict themselves, and physical
evidence suggests Giarratano was not the murderer. Footprints and
pubic hairs found at the scene did not match Giarratano's and
experts assert Kline was stabbed by a right-handed assailant;
Giarratano is left-handed. Three days before his scheduled
execution in 1991, Governor Douglas Wilder commuted Giarratano's
death sentence to life imprisonment and left open the possibility
of a new trial. Virginia's attorney general, however, has stated
she will not re-try the case.

Herbert Bassette Virginia Conviction 1979 Commuted to life 1992
Bassette was convicted of murdering a gas station attendant in
1979. Doubt later arose about the testimony presented at trial,
and a police statement indicated that one of the witnesses had
implicated another person in the killing. Governor Douglas Wilder
commuted Bassette's sentence to life without parole after
expressing doubts about the conviction.

Joseph Payne Virginia Conviction 1986 Commuted to life 1996
Although the defense knew of 17 witnesses willing to testify on
Payne's behalf, they only used one, and Payne was convicted of
murder by arson of another inmate at the Powhatan Correctional
Center in Virginia. While the jury was deliberating, the
prosecution offered Payne a plea whereby he would receive a
sentence to run concurrently with the sentence he already was
serving, but the offer was refused because his lawyers thought an
acquittal was likely. Instead, he was sentenced to death and was
scheduled to be executed on Nov. 7, 1996. The chief witness
against Payne, Robert Smith, received a 15 year reduction in
sentence. At one point, Smith admitted that he had lied at
Payne's trial. Three hours before his execution, and after Payne
agreed not to appeal, Payne's sentence was reduced to life
without parole by Governor George Allen.

Henry Lee Lucas Texas Conviction 1984 Commuted to Life 1998
Lucas originally confessed to the murder of an unnamed hitchhiker
in Texas in 1979. He also confessed to hundreds of other murders
including the murder of Jimmy Hoffa and his fourth grade teacher,
who is still alive. Most of his confessions have proved false.
Two investigations by successive Attorneys General in Texas have
concluded that he almost certainly did not commit the murder for
which he faced an execution date of June 30, 1998. Gov. George
Bush commuted his sentence to life upon recommendation of the
Board of Pardons and Paroles in June, 1998.

John Ballard is the 22nd Person Exonerated from Florida
The Florida Supreme Court unanimously overturned the conviction
of death row inmate John Robert Ballard (pictured) and ordered
his acquittal in the 1999 murders of two of his acquaintances.
The Court concluded that the evidence against Ballard was so weak
that the trial judge should have dismissed the case immediately.
The primary evidence presented against Ballard was a hair and a
fingerprint, both of which he could have left during his many
visits to the victims' apartment. Bloody fingerprints and 100
other hair samples were found associated with the crime scene,
none of them belonging to Ballard, who has always maintained his
innocence. One of the victims was a known drug dealer.

The state Attorney General's office said that it would not seek a
rehearing in the case. At Ballard's trial, only 9 of the 12
jurors recommended a death sentence. The judge decided to
sentence Ballard to death, commenting: "You have not only
forfeited your right to live among us, but under the laws of the
state of Florida, you have forfeited your right to live at all."
Ballard was released on February 25, 2006.


Ernest Willis became the eighth person exonerated from Texas's
death row on October 6, 2004, and the 117th person freed
nationwide since 1973. Willis was sentenced to death 17 years ago
for allegedly setting a house fire that killed two people.

U. S. District Judge Royal Ferguson held that the state had
administered medically inappropriate antipsychotic drugs without
Willis' consent; that the state supressed evidence favorable to
Willis; and that Willis received ineffective representation at
both the guilt and sentencing phases of his trial. He ordered the
state to either free Willis or retry him. The state attorney
general's office declined to appeal, and prosecutors dropped all
charges against Willis.

The district attorney hired a new fire expert to examine the
evidence, and his conclusion was that "[t]here is not a single
item of physical evience in this case which supports a finding of
arson." (San Antonio Express-News, Oct. 5, 2004).

District Attorney Ori White, concluded that Willis "simply did
not do the crime. ... I'm sorry this man was on death row for so
long and that there were so many lost years." (L. A. Times, Oct.
7, 2004).

A few facts about the death penalty in general

Almost all people on death row could not afford to hire an
attorney. The quality of legal representation is a better
predictor of whether or not someone will be sentenced to death
than the facts of the crime.

Race often plays a role in determining a capital sentence. Over
80% of capital cases involve white victims, even though
nationally, only 50% of murder victims are white.

Where a death sentence is sought often determines whether a
defendant is sentenced to death more than the circumstances of
the crime.

The following is quoted from Rachel King:

More than thirty years ago, in Furman v. Georgia, the United
States Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty as applied was
arbitrary, capricious and discriminatory ? as random as being
struck by lightening. It commuted the sentences of all 629 death
row inmates, sending states scrambling to rewrite their capital
punishment statutes.

Four years later, in 1976, the Court upheld newly crafted death
penalty statutes in Gregg v. Georgia. Executions resumed in
1977; as of June 2003, 855 people had been executed.

Problem solved? Not exactly. Since 1973, 108 people have been
released from death row after evidence of their innocence was
uncovered. More than half of those releases came in the last 10
years ? which turns out to be one person exonerated for every
eight people executed.

Overturned convictions ? coming sometimes only days before a
death sentence was scheduled to be carried out ? are merely the
canary in the coal mine. While the US Supreme Court has ruled
that the death penalty should be applied based on the severity of
the crime and the merits of the defendant, study after study
confirms that what really determines sentencing is the quality of
legal representation, the socioeconomic status and race of the
defendant and victim, and geography.

It is time once again for a temporary halt to executions while
these serious errors are investigated. This report provides a
brief overview of four of the death penalty?s systemic flaws:
wrongful conviction of the innocent, inadequate counsel,
geographic disparity, and racial and socioeconomic bias.

One of the primary factors in wrongful convictions is inadequate
legal representation. Poor people are the most likely to receive
inadequate representation in capital cases, the cases that
require the most financial resources. If you cannot afford an
attorney, you must depend on court-appointed counsel or public
defenders. Yet few if any states have the funds to compensate
lawyers for their work; nor do they have competency requirements
for attorneys defending capital murder suspects. As this report
shows, studies in states from Georgia to Pennsylvania reveal just
how serious the problem of competent counsel is.

Then there is geography. Death penalty laws vary dramatically
from state to state. Of the 855 executions since 1977, 82 percent
were carried out by ten states. Texas and Virginia alone
accounted for more than half of those. Twenty-two states allow
for the execution of a person who committed a crime while under
the age of eighteen; sixteen do not.

Felony murder ? an unintentional murder in the course of a
serious crime ? is a capital crime in New Jersey, but not in

Differences in plea bargaining policies and death penalty trial
decisions often exist within the same state. Reports in Maryland,
Nebraska and New York reveal that prosecutors in certain parts of
the state are more likely to seek the death penalty.

Adding to the disparity of geography is race. Skin color all too
often makes the difference between life and death. Numerous
studies have found that people who kill white victims are more
likely to be sentenced to death than those who kill black

The race of the prosecutor and the racial composition of juries
are also decisive factors. Only one percent of the district
attorneys in death penalty states are African-American, only one
percent Hispanic. The remaining 97.5 percent are white. Almost
all are male. Prosecutors in certain areas systematically remove
African-Americans from juries because they believe these jurors
are less likely than their white counterparts to impose the death

States are beginning to act in the face of these systemic flaws.
Illinois and Maryland have imposed temporary halts; North
Carolina?s Senate has passed a moratorium bill and the House
will consider that bill in June of 2003. Hundreds of city
councils, businesses, and religious organizations have passed
moratorium resolutions. More and more states are commissioning
studies to get a better picture of just how the death penalty is
being applied.

These are good first steps, but they are insufficient. Thousands
of people await execution across the country; it is a virtual
certainty that many are innocent or were sentenced to death only
because they did not have a good lawyer.

Instead of being the worst of the worst offenders, people
populating death row are there because they are poor or because
of whom they killed and where the crime occurred. Thirty years
after Furman, the death penalty is still arbitrary, capricious
and discriminatory - just as ?wantonly and freakishly imposed? as
Justice Stewart put it.

In 1994, Justice Blackmun said that his previous support of the
death penalty was wrong ? that the death penalty experiment had
failed. It is still failing. If we are going to continue to have
the death penalty as part of our public policy, we must halt
executions until we can assure that this ultimate sentence can be
applied the way it was intended ? reserved for the most serious
of crimes and handed out in a fair and equitable manner.

Various quotes

?NO MATTER HOW CAREFUL courts are, the possibility of perjured
testimony, mistaken honest testimony, and human error remain all
too real. We have no way of judging how many innocent persons
have been executed but we can be certain that there were some....
Surely there will be more as long as capital punishment remains
part of our penal law.?
? Justice John Marshall in his concurrence in Furman v. Georgia,

WHO IS INNOCENT? There has been much debate surrounding the use
of the term ?innocent? to describe those exonerated from death
row. Proponents of the death penalty often argue that many of
those wrongfully convicted, who are later released because of
legal innocence, may have committed the crime. The Death Penalty
Information Center (DPIC) ? the organization that keeps track of
innocence cases ? includes people who have been convicted and
sentenced to death and were either acquitted at a re-trial, had
all charges dropped, or were given an absolute pardon by the
governor based on new evidence of innocence.

DNA testing is also only as effective as the people conducting
the tests. In 2003, the Houston Police Department?s lab came
under attack because of ongoing gross negligence and fabrication
of results. That led the FBI to purge the results of all DNA
tests taken at that lab from the national DNA database.17 Dozens
of convictions from that jurisdiction have been called into

?Not only does capital punishment fail in its justification, but
no punishment could be invented with so many inherent defects. It
is an unequal punishment in the way it is applied to the rich and
to the poor. The defendant of wealth and position never goes to
the electric chair or to the gallows.?
? Justice Douglas from his concurrence in Furman v. Georgia,

Delma Banks, Jr. A recent case that epitomizes the problems of
inadequate representation is that of Delma Banks, Jr., which the
Supreme Court accepted for review on April 21, 2003. Delma Banks,
Jr. received such poor representation that former FBI director
and United States District Court Judge William Sessions
intervened and asked the Supreme Court to temporarily stay his
execution. Judge Sessions argued that the constitutional issues
raised in Mr. Banks? petition called into question the
reliability of the guilty verdict and the death sentence and the
criminal justice system as a whole: ?when a criminal defendant is
forced to pay with his life for his lawyer?s errors, the
effectiveness of the criminal justice system as a whole is
undermined.? Delma Banks, Jr. is an African-American man who was
charged in 1980 with murder for killing Richard Whitehead, a
white man, in Texarkana, Texas. The only ?evidence? against Banks
was the testimony of an informant who in exchange for his
testimony received $200 and the dismissal of an arson charge that
could have resulted in his life sentence as a habitual offender.

Banks? lawyer did not vigorously cross-examine the informant, nor
did he investigate the case. Had he done so, he would have
learned of strong evidence that Banks was in another city at the
time of the crime. Banks was convicted and sentenced to death
after a one-day trial in which the prosecutors systematically
removed all African-Americans from the jury ? again not
challenged by Banks? attorney.

At the sentencing hearing, Banks? lawyer did not challenge
the state?s claim that his client posed a ?future danger to
society?? a requirement for a death sentence in Texas ? even
though Banks had no criminal record or history of violence.

Few if any states provide sufficient funds to compensate lawyers
for their work and most do not have meaningful competency
standards for an attorney to meet in order to defend a capital
murder suspect. In 2003, the American Bar Association (ABA)
published revised Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance
of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases that include: requiring
the attorneys to have abilities, expertise and skills in
representing clients in capital cases; providing two attorneys,
an investigator and mitigation specialist in every case; and
providing full funding of the defense and eliminating statutory
caps or flat fees. According to the ABA, no state has yet
established standards that meet its minimum requirements.

Reports on indigent defense have recently been done in Texas,
Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. The Texas
study, Lethal Indifference, conducted by the Texas Defender
Service, found that the quality of legal representation is
abysmal for death row prisoners both at the trial and appeals
levels. The study found that judges often appointed defense
attorneys based on their reputation for rapidly moving cases
through the system, instead of for their competence and
experience. Judges even appointed attorneys who have
been disciplined, such as in the case of Leonard Rojas. He was
appointed an appellate attorney who had been disciplined three
times by the state bar and been given two probated suspensions.
(A probated suspension allows an otherwise suspended attorney to
continue representing clients.) The study concluded that death
row prisoners, ?face a one-in-three chance of being executed
without having the case properly investigated by a competent
attorney or without having any claims of innocence or unfairness

Texas is not alone in providing inadequate counsel for death
penalty cases. The Tennessee Supreme Court reviewed all death
sentences post-Furman and found that in one-fourth of those
cases, attorneys did not submit evidence that might persuade a
jury to impose a prison sentence instead of death. In
Philadelphia, 60 percent of all capital cases went without proper
investigation or experienced attorneys. In fact, a March 2003
report prepared for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court by an
appointed commission had such grave concerns about the quality of
representation in that state that it recommended an overhaul of
the entire system. It also found that people of color were
affected to a greater degree by the problems of indigent defense
because of their overrepresentation in the criminal justice

The concerns of racial bias led the commission to recommend a
moratorium in the report it prepared on behalf of the court. In
December 2002, at the request of the Georgia Supreme Court
Chief Justice?s Commission on Indigent Defense, the Spangenberg
Group issued a 100-page report on the state?s failure to provide
adequate representation for indigent people. Supplementing that
report was a series of recommendations reported by the Commission
on Indigent Defense. Although the recommendations did not focus
specifically on needs in death penalty cases, they are
applicable. Recommended reforms include: increasing funding for
indigent defense, including shifting funding from the counties to
the state; establishing multi-county public defender offices that
would operate throughout a judicial circuit; adopting principles
to govern the system of providing legal services to indigent
criminal defendants; and adopting performance standards for
defense attorneys.

According to a report just released by the Common Sense
Foundation of North Carolina, Life and Death Lottery: Capital
Defendants and the Lawyers Who Fail Them, no fewer than
35 prisoners currently on death row in North Carolina?one out of
every six?were represented by lawyers who had been disbarred,
suspended or otherwise disciplined by the state.33 That list did
not include at least four prisoners who had already been

One of those prisoners was Michael McDougall, who had been
represented by Jerry Paul. A judge reviewing the case found
that Paul ?acted unethically or even criminally? while defending
his client. The problem of ineffective counsel for those on death
row has been so pronounced that two Supreme Court Justices have
publicly remarked on it, an unusual practice for high court
judges. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, ?I have
yet to see a death case among the dozens coming to the Supreme
Court on eve-of-execution stay applications in which the
defendant was well represented at trial?People who are well
represented at trial do not get the death penalty.? Justice
Sandra Day O?Connor expressed similar concerns when addressing
the Minnesota Women Lawyers, stating, ?[perhaps] it?s time to
look at minimum standards for appointed counsel in death cases
and adequate compensation for appointed counsel when they are
used.? When a person faces the death penalty, effective counsel
can mean the difference between life and death. A system that
executes people based on their inability to afford adequate
representation rather than the nature of the crime committed is
both arbitrary and discriminatory. Justice and fairness require
that every defendant in a capital case receive a competent and
zealous defense.

Discrimination Against the Poor

Whether the death penalty is biased against poor people, apart
from the issue of incompetent counsel and inadequate defense
resources, has not been thoroughly studied. However, over 90
percent of those sentenced to death are indigent. There are a
handful of middle-class defendants, and upper-class defendants
are virtually non-existent. Although not the focus of the study,
a 2002 Maryland study on the death penalty found that 90 percent
of the people on death row in Maryland were indigent.

The Economic Background of the Victim

The issue of how much the victim?s socioeconomic status affects
the result of the case has not been widely studied either.
However, in one study commissioned by the Nebraska legislature,
The Disposition of Nebraska Capital and Non-Capital Homicide
Cases (1973-1999): A Legal and Empirical Analysis, researcher
David Baldus found that defendants who killed victims with high
socioeconomic status were almost six times more likely to be
sentenced to death than those whose victims had low socioeconomic
status. According to Baldus, ?this is a classic example of
disparate treatment, that is, people are being treated
differently on the basis of factors that have nothing whatever to
do with their culpability but rather on the socioeconomic status
of the victim that they have killed. It?s a system-wide influence
that exists in both the major urban counties and it exists in
greater Nebraska, and you can see it in the decisions of both the
prosecutors and the sentencing judges.?

?When the punishment of death is inflicted in a trivial number of
the cases in which it is legally available, the conclusion is
virtually inescapable that it is being inflicted arbitrarily.
Indeed, it smacks of little more than a lottery system.?
? Justice Brennan from his concurrence in Furman v. Georgia,

"Teach governments humanity. It is their sanguinary punishments
which corrupt mankind. In England, the punishment in certain
cases is, by hanging, drawing and quartering.... In France...
the punishments were not less barbarous.... The effect of these
cruel spectacles exhibited to the populace, is to destroy
tenderness or excite revenge; and by the base and false idea of
governing men by terror instead of reason, they become
precedents. It is over the lowest class of mankind that
government by terror is intended to operate, and it is on them
that it operates to the worst effect. They... inflict in their
turn the examples of terror they have been instructed to
--Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man

Did Texas Execute an Innocent Man?
Texas executed its fifth teenage offender at 22 minutes after
midnight on Aug. 24, 1993, after his last request for bubble gum
had been refused and his final claim of innocence had been
forever silenced. Four days after a Bexar County jury delivered
its verdict, Cantu wrote this letter to the residents of San
Antonio: "My name is Ruben M. Cantu and I am only 18 years old. I
got to the 9th grade and I have been framed in a capital murder
case." A dozen years after his execution, a Houston Chronicle
investigation suggests that Cantu was likely telling the truth.

Anthony Ray Hinton
Six mangled lead slugs, supposedly fired from a rusty, Smith &
Wesson .38 special found in his mother's home near Dora, Alabama
sent Hinton to Death Row in 1986. Police recovered the spent
slugs from victims of a string of robbery/murders at fast-food
restaurants in the Birmingham area in 1985. It was the only
evidence they had, but Jefferson County prosecutors used that
evidence to help convince a jury Hinton committed the crimes and
should be put to death. But the questions loom large. How were
state forensics experts able to match the six slugs to each other
and to test bullets fired from the same gun when national experts
were unable to replicate their findings? Why won't the state's
experts work with the national experts to resolve their
differences? How could Hinton have clocked in to work at midnight
and been assigned his tasks at 12:10 a.m. on the night of the
Smotherman shooting, yet driven to Quincy's 15 miles away in just
four minutes?

Larry Griffin: An Innocent Man was Executed
Up to the moment that lethal injection took his life in the early
morning hours of June 21, 1995, Larry Griffin insisted he was
innocent of a drive-by murder in St. Louis, Missouri. A
year-long investigation financed by the NAACP Legal Defense and
Educational Fund supports his claim.

Bury the Mistakes
Meanwhile, Congress moves the Streamlined Procedures Act --
designed to further strip federal habeas rights and ensure
quicker executions, innocence be damned -- closer to becoming

Nathaniel Harvey -- Is New Jersey Poised to Execute an Innocent
Man? Maybe. Nathaniel Harvey and his lawyer are fighting to
clear Nathaniel as his case winds its way through the
post-conviction process. Prosecutors have been relying on a
confession (which was tossed out of court and never used) to keep
Harvey from getting new DNA testing and so far, the courts have
been backing up the prosecution. The confession was not recorded
or put in writing. In addition to a false or fabricated
confession, the case involves prosecutorial misconduct, junk
science, and many other sources of error common to false

Derrick Jamison
Derrick Jamison has been released from Ohio's Death Row. His
1985 murder conviction was overturned by two federal courts,
which ruled he was denied a fair trial by prosecutors who
withheld evidence that might have cleared him. Jamison is the
119th innocent person to be freed from death row since 1973 and
the first to be exonerated in 2005.

Billy Kelley
In 2002, Broward (Florida) U.S. District Judge Norman C.
Roettger, who died in 2003, granted Kelley a new trial. State
prosecutors said they could not retry Kelley, clearing the way
for his release from prison. But a three-judge panel of the 11th
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta overturned Roettger's
decision and reinstated Kelley's conviction. Chief Justice Gerald
Tjoflat wrote the opinion. Now the only thing standing between
Kelley, 62, and a lethal shot of potassium chloride is the
petition to the U.S. Supreme Court by Tribe -- a legal giant who
represented Al Gore in the recount battle after the 2000

SCOTUS Strikes Death Penalty for Juveniles
There's a reason adolescents are overrepresented in every form of
reckless behavior. Sometimes they lack the judgment, the impulse
control, the maturity and the character to resist harmful peer
pressure. Every parent knows this. So do most legislators.
That's why young people are prohibited from serving on juries,
voting, marrying, serving in the armed forces and drinking. The
U.S. Supreme Court now knows this, too. In a landmark ruling
Tuesday, the court found that it is unconstitutional to put to
death those who were under age 18 at the time of their crime. A
5-4 majority of justices acknowledged what common sense already
tells us: Adolescents inherently are different from adults.

John Spirko
John Spirko is hard to like. He's lived a life of crime that
makes him virtually incredible. But he says he's innocent of the
murder of Betty Jane Mottinger, a crime that put him on Ohio's
death row. An investigation by the Cleveland Plain Dealer
strongly supports Spirko's claim that he did not commit this

Martin Soto-Fong and the DA with Killer Instincts
Last year, former Pima County, AZ DA Kenneth Peasley was
disbarred for intentionally presenting false evidence in
death-penalty cases ? something that had never before happened to
an American prosecutor. In a 1992 triple-murder case, Peasley
introduced testimony that he knew to be false; three men were
convicted and sentenced to die. Peasley was convinced that the
three were guilty, but he also believed that the evidence needed
a push. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, since
the mid-nineteen-seventies a hundred and seventeen death-row
inmates have been released. Defense lawyers, often relying on DNA
testing, have shown repeatedly how shoddy crime-lab work, lying
informants, and mistaken eyewitness identifications, among other
factors, led to unjust convictions. But DNA tests don?t reveal
how innocent people come to be prosecuted in the first place. The
career of Kenneth Peasley -- and the case of Martin Soto-Fong --

Tommy Ziegler
In the 1989 nationally syndicated television program on the case,
A Matter of Life and Death, television journalist Ike Pappas
noted: ``In 1975, Tommy Zeigler was attempting to clean up
corruption right in his hometown of Winter Garden, Florida. He
was helpful in shutting down the old Edgewater Hotel, a center of
prostitution and drug dealing. But he was also trying to gather
information on other illegal activities such as gun running and,
most importantly, loan sharking. The loan sharks made a fortune
letting [black] migrant workers buy groceries on credit at an
interest rate of 520 percent per year. And Tommy Zeigler alleges
that certain members of the Winter Garden police force were in on
the action.''

On Christmas Eve that year, there was a multiple murder at the
Zeigler family furniture store. Zeigler was charged with the
murders. Maurice Paul, who openly opposed Ziegler's efforts, was
the trial judge who presided over Zeigler's fate. Paul overrode
the jury's recommendation and sentenced Zeigler to death.
Zeigler has maintained his innocence.

Now DNA evidence offers Zeigler the hope of a very different
future Christmas.

Grant Zeigler an opportunity to prove his innocence

Posted on Tue, Dec. 28, 2004

Over the weekend, William ''Tommy'' Zeigler, a lifelong Christian
who joined the Catholic Church earlier this year, spent his 29th
Christmas on Florida's Death Row. Who can comprehend the grief of
having one's wife and in-laws brutally murdered in the family
store on Christmas Eve? Who can imagine the trauma of being
rushed to the hospital with a near-fatal bullet wound through the
abdomen on the very same Christmas Eve? Or the agony of spending
the next 29 Christmases on Florida's Death Row, wrongfully
convicted for those murders.

That was Christmas for Zeigler, a white businessman widely
thought to be on Death Row because he helped defend Andrew James,
a black man, against a group of corrupt white residents trying to
shut down his legitimate business.

Zeigler arranged for a lawyer to defend James and appeared as his
character witness. Judge Maurice Paul appeared as the character
witness for Herbert G. Baker, the white man who brought the
charges against James.

James was successful in the case and kept his business. A few
months later, on Christmas Eve, there was a multiple murder at
the Zeigler family furniture store. Zeigler was charged with the
murders. Paul was the trial judge who presided over Zeigler's

Paul overrode the jury's recommendation and sentenced Zeigler to
death. Zeigler has maintained his innocence.

Ironically, Edward Williams, the man who turned the principal
murder weapon over to the police and had acquired the two other
murder weapons involved in the crime, became the state's star
witness. He claimed to be an innocent bystander.

In the 1989 nationally syndicated television program on the case,
A Matter of Life and Death, television journalist Ike Pappas
noted: ``Zeigler was attempting to clean up corruption right in
his hometown of Winter Garden, Florida. He was helpful in
shutting down the old Edgewater Hotel, a center of prostitution
and drug dealing. But he was also trying to gather information on
other illegal activities such as gun running and, most
importantly, loan sharking.

``The loan sharks made a fortune letting [black] migrant workers
buy groceries on credit at an interest rate of 520 percent per
year. And Tommy Zeigler alleges that certain members of the
Winter Garden police force were in on the action.''

Now DNA evidence offers Zeigler the hope of a very different
future Christmas.

DNA evidence has played a significant role in 14 of the 117
exonerations from U.S. Death Rows. Such evidence is vital,
especially in Florida, which -- according to the Death Penalty
Information Center in Washington, D.C. -- has had 21 people found
innocent on its Death Row, more than any other state.

Lawson Lamar, the state attorney in Zeigler's death-penalty case,
fought for years to prevent DNA testing of the crime-scene blood.
In August 2001, the court ordered the tests. The results, which
were reported in June 2002, hopelessly devastate the state's
theory of Zeigler's culpability. The results completely support
Zeigler's innocence.

On Dec. 20 and 21, Circuit Judge Reginald Whitehead heard the DNA
evidence in Orlando. The lawyers for Zeigler asked Whitehead to
grant Zeigler a new trial so that -- for the first time -- a jury
could look at all the evidence of the case.

The state attorneys argued against a new trial. The state seeks
to execute Zeigler without any jury ever seeing the mountain of
lately discovered evidence of Ziegler's innocence.

Whitehead now must decide whether to grant a new trial for

How can anyone resist a new trial in this case? There can be no
doubt that if the information now available had been known in
1976, Zeigler would never have been prosecuted. One of the
original jurors has even signed a sworn affidavit that she would
have voted ''not guilty'' if the new evidence had been available
at the trial.

The purpose of DNA testing in this case was to establish whose
blood was on the clothes of Charlie Mays and Zeigler to show who
committed the murders.

No jury has heard most of the evidence of Zeigler's innocence:
the DNA test results; the buried original police report, which
contradicts the state's case; the buried tape recording of the
investigator from the state attorney's office trying to induce
potential witnesses to change their testimony; the
gunshot-residue tests, which establish that Williams had no
residue in the pocket of the pants in which he claims to have
carried the freshly discharged murder weapon; or even the
testimony of the Roaches and the Nolans, all credible
eyewitnesses, that contradicts the state's ''eyewitnesses,''
including Williams.

No jury has wrestled with these questions:

? What was Oakland Chief of Police Robert Thompson doing in
uniform outside his jurisdiction, sitting at a restaurant across
the street from the killings while Zeigler was being shot?

? Why did Thompson write the original police report, allow it to
be buried by the state attorney and then testify under oath to
facts inconsistent with his own buried police report?

? Why are Thompson, Mays, Williams and Felton Thomas (the state's
other star witness) all connected through the city of Oakland and
its migrant camps, the very place where illegal practices that
preyed upon black migrant farmworkers were being attacked by

The DNA evidence and the other post-trial evidence of Zeigler's
innocence are absolutely clear. Zeigler was wrongfully
prosecuted, wrongfully convicted and wrongfully sentenced to

After Zeigler's 29 Christmases on Death Row, it is high time to
correct this horrendous error. Zeigler's case demands a new

There are hundreds of cases like these in our laegal system. The
facts point to a broken system that sends, poor, black and
Hispanic defendants to death row -- not because they are guilty
and not because they are accused of especiallyu heinous crimes,
but because they are poor, black or Hispanic, because they can't
pay for a qualified defense attorney or because the victim was
white, well-to-do or well-connected.


Robert L Bass

Bass Burglar Alarms
The Online DIY Store


Never underestimate the power of very stupid people in large

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