Oh Georgia: Dubious conviction of Troy Davis to stand

The Georgia Supreme Court issued a 4-3 opinion today, essentially affirming Troy Davis’ conviction. Troy Davis, you will remember, was granted a stay of execution by the Georgia Board of Parole and received a letter of support from The Pope.

EyeID explains:

According to the court, statements by a slew of witnesses who claimed that they had lied at trial under police pressure were insufficient to support a finding that a different result would likely be reached if the case were subjected to a new trial — in a case in which the only evidence presented was the apparently coerced testimony of the same witnesses. As a result of this inexplicable finding, the Georgia Supreme Court refused to stand in the way of the execution of a man who insists he is, and whom many believe to be, innocent.

Here’s a sampling of the recantations:

I kept telling them that I didn’t know. It was dark, my windows were tinted, and I was scared. It all happened so fast. Even today, I know that I could not honestly identify with any certainty who shot the officer that night.
[…]
After the officers talked to me, they gave me a statement and told me to sign it. I signed it. I did not read it because I cannot read.

and another:

I nodded and repeated what they said, whether it was true or not…. I am not proud for lying at Troy’s trial, but the police had me so messed up that I felt that’s all I could do or else I would go to jail.

It really is remarkable that the Ga. Supreme Court did not find that these recantations would result in a different outcome if Davis were granted a new trial.

An absolutely mind-boggling and repulsive decision.

13 thoughts on “Oh Georgia: Dubious conviction of Troy Davis to stand

  1. SPO

    Not to open up a ton of calumny because I am not familiar with all of the details of this case, but I think we all know what would happen if witness recantations were routinely accepted.

    Reply
  2. Gerard Weatherby

    There’s a reason the song is called “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” (that’s the night they hung an innocent man)

    Reply
  3. Miss Conduct

    “Not to open up a ton of calumny because I am not familiar with all of the details of this case, but I think we all know what would happen if witness recantations were routinely accepted.”

    Clearly you aren’t familiar. As the dissent so correctly points out, the collective weight of the recantations — and the other reliable evidence implicating another party — at the very least entitles Davis to a hearing on a new trial. The majority decision was largely cut and pasted, and I found it offensive that they would treat a DEATH case with such carelessness.

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  4. SPO

    Miss Conduct, and how do you distinguish this case from all the others where someone decides to undo his testimony? Do we expose witnesses who testified in long ago trials to new pressures etc. There are reasons why courts are loath to rip open judgments, whether or not Mr. Davis has a compelling case.

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  5. Miss Conduct

    There are reasons that courts are not loathe to rip open judgments, too. This should have been one of those cases.

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  6. utopian007

    So let me make sure I understand you SPO. A person lies due to pressure from the police. His guilty conscience gets the better of him a few years later and he decides to disclose the lie. And your opinion is the greater good of not having to revisit other case is worth the death of this man?

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  7. SPO

    What I am saying is that finality has benefits. Let’s say I testify in a murder trial. Do I want people coming to me trying to get me to change my testimony after the fact? Decisions allowing recantations incentivize this.

    And if you make it easy to rip open judgments, you are going to wind up freeing the guilty.

    My post was food for thought.

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  8. Gideon Post author

    SPO: I agree that that there might be a general concern on the Court’s part that opening this door wide might lead to foul play. However, there needs to be an evaluation of the credibility of the witnesses recantations.

    Which is why the dissent (and the rest of us) argue that there should have at least been an evidentiary hearing on the matter.

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  9. SPO

    The problem, of course, with evidentiary hearings etc. is that they undermine finality. Witnesses will have to come and retestify etc. etc. If I am a witness in a murder case, I don’t want people incentivized to look me up years later questioning my testimony. Moreoever, what if people have rolled some other old witnesses, but I stand firm. That, if the defendant is connected to violent criminals, leaves me vulnerable, does it not?

    This may seem heartless. So be it. All I am doing is pointing out that re-opening cases is problematic for lots of reasons. We don’t have a perfect system, but that, in and of itself, doesn’t mean that we don’t treat decisions as final. The cure may be worse than the disease.

    There are innocent men in prison. I get that. But there are costs on the other side too. That they are more diffuse doesn’t mean that we ignore them.

    See, the same old SPO is back.

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  10. Gideon Post author

    That may be so, but when the evidence is overwhelming that an innocent man in on death row and there are 5 witness who are “recanting” the least you can do for “justice” is to hear them out.

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  11. SPO

    The evidence is not “overwhelming” that an innocent man is on death row. First of all, one eyewitness is sticking to his story. Second of all, Davis is linked to another murder, and the the gun in that murder was the same as the one that shot MacPhail, and there is nothing to undermine that evidence.

    I hardly see how, given the discretion vested in trial courts, and the evidence that is not at all impeached, this decision is “repulsive” and “mind-boggling”. I get the problem with the standard too–the court looks a little bit like it’s saying one thing (i.e., what would a jury do) and doing another, but this decision is not a bad one.

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  12. DOUGLAS FIELD

    TROY DAVIS, PLEASE REMEMBER THAT AMERICA IS NOT THE OLD SOUTH ~ AFRICA !!!!

    A $TATE ECONOMIC BOYCOTT OF GEORGIA INTERNATIONALLY WILL OBVIOU$LY BE THE END RE$ULT OF GEORGIA DECIDING TO MURDER A PO$$IBLE INNOCENT TROY DAVI$ WITHOUT A NEW AND FAIR TRIAL ?

    US CONGRESSIONAL MEMBERS WHO ARE ALSO LAWYERS BY TRADE, CONTINUE TO DENY poorer AMERICAN’S PROPER LEGAL REPRESENTATION !!!

    THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY NEEDS TO BEGIN A FORMAL INVESTIGATION INTO THESE US CONGRESSIONAL CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY, AND HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS BEING INFLICTED ON poorer AMERICAN’S LIKE MR.TROY DAVIS OF GEORGIA !!!

    HAVING BEEN DENIED APPEAL LAWYERS FOR THREE YEARS ON DEATH ROW IN GEORGIA MR. TROY DAVIS IS NOW BEING EXECUTED FOR A CRIME HE MIGHT NOT HAVE EVEN BEEN INVOLVED WITH !!!

    SENATOR OBAMA PLEASE LET THIS COUNTRIES VOTERS KNOW YOUR FEELINGS AND THOUGHTS ABOUT A NEEDED FUTURE REPAIR AND RENOVATION OF OUR BROKEN JUDICIAL SYSTEM THAT CONTINUES TO ALLOW THE EXECUTION’S OF EVEN POSSIBLE INNOCENT AMERICAN’S LIKE TROY DAVIS OF GEORGIA ?????

    BEING THE WEALTHIEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD SENATOR OBAMA, DON’T WE NEED AS THE LEADERS OF THE FREE WORLD TO BEGIN ONCE AGAIN TO RE-INVEST THE PROPER MONIE$ IN OUR OWN US JUDICIAL SYSTEM, ASSURING ALL OF OUR CITIZENS THEIR RIGHTS TO FAIR TRIALS WITH PROPER LEGAL REPRESENTATION ???

    DOES GOD NEED TO LOBBY OUR US CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS OF THE FREE WORLD ON BEHALF OF OUR poorer american’s SENATOR OBAMA,OR ARE YOU WATCHING OUT FOR THEM ??

    ***OUR US CONGRESS CONTINUES TO DENY MIDDLE CLASS AND WORKING POOR AMERICANS PROPER LEGAL REPRESENTATION EVEN THOUGH WRONGFUL EXECUTIONS & FALSE INCARCERATIONS CONTINUE ALL ACROSS AMERICA ???

    *** 700 BILLION $$$ AVAILABLE FOR US BAILOUT, & NO $$$ FOR ALL POORER AMERICANS PROPER LEGAL REPRESENTATION ? SENATOR OBAMA, THIS JUDICIAL INJUSTICE HAS BECOME AN AMERICAN ART FORM, AND NO LONGER CAN BE KEPT HIDDEN OR SECRET FROM THE AMERICAN PEOPLE EVEN IF CERTAIN (501c3) U$ RELIGIOU$ LEADER$ HAVE BEEN $ILENCED ??

    LETS ALL HOPE OUR MEDIA FRIENDS CONTINUE TO SHOW AN INTEREST IN REPORTING ON THIS AMERICAN HORROR FACING THESE (TENS OF THOUSANDS) FORGOTTEN AND TRAPPED POORER AMERICANS, AND HOW THIS PRESIDENTIAL CONTENDER HANDLES THIS VERY SERIOUS ISSUE FACING AMERICA’S LATINO AND BLACK AMERICAN COMMUNITIES ????

    WITH 80% OF THE BLACK AMERICAN VOTERS SAYING THEY SUPPORT SENATOR OBAMA IN THIS PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, IT IS ONLY FAIR FOR EVERYONE TO KNOW PRIOR BEING ELECTED OUR NEXT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES HOW THIS DEMOCRATIC SENATOR TRULY FEELS ABOUT THIS AMERICAN JUDICIAL INJUSTICE CONTINUING TO INFLICT GRAVE HARM ON THE BLACK & LATINO AMERICAN FAMILIES AND THEIR COMMUNITIES NATIONWIDE ??????

    *** WHEN GOD’S FACE BECAME VERY RED *** THE US SUPREME COURT GAVE ENEMY COMBATANTS FEDERAL APPEAL HC RIGHTS LAWYERS AND PROPER ACCESS TO US FEDERAL COURTS,AND POORER AMERICANS (MANY EVEN ON DEATH ROW) ARE DENIED PROPER FEDERAL APPEAL LEGAL REPRESENTATION TO OUR US FEDERAL COURTS OF APPEAL, AND ROTTING IN AMERICAN PRISONS NATIONWIDE ?????????

    **** INNOCENT AMERICANS ARE DENIED REAL HC RIGHTS WITH THEIR FEDERAL APPEALS ! THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE $LOWLY FINDING OUT HOW EA$Y IT I$ FOR MIDDLE CLA$$ AND WORKING POOR AMERICAN$ TO FALL VICTIM TO OUR U$ MONETARY JUDICIAL $Y$TEM.

    ****WHEN THE US INNOCENT WERE ABANDONED BY THE GUILTY **** The prison experts have reported that there are 100,000 innocent Americans currently being falsely imprisoned along with the 2,300,000 total US prison population nationwide.

    ***WHERE ARE AMERICA’S RELIGIOUS LEADERS ??????? Since our US Congress has never afforded poor prison inmates federal appeal legal counsel for their federal retrials,they have effectively closed the doors on these tens of thousands of innocent citizens ever being capable of possibly exonerating themselves to regain their freedom through being granted new retrials.

    This same exact unjust situation was happening in our Southern States when poor and mostly uneducated Black Americans were being falsely imprisoned for endless decades without the needed educational skills to properly submit their own written federal trial appeals.

    This devious and deceptive judicial process of making our poor and innocent prison inmates formulate and write their own federal appeal legal cases for possible retrials on their state criminal cases,is still in effect today even though everyone in our US judicial system knows that without proper legal representation, these tens of thousands of innocent prison inmates will be denied their rightful opportunities of ever being granted new trials from our federal appeal judges!!

    Sadly, the true US *legal* Federal Appeal situation that occurs when any of our uneducated American prison inmates are forced to attempt to submit their own written Federal Appeals (from our prisons nationwide) without the assistance of proper legal counsel, is that they all are in reality being denied their legitimate rights for Habeas Corpus with our US FEDERAL COURTS and will win any future Supreme Court Case concerning this injustice!

    For our judicial system and our US Congressional Leaders Of The Free World to continue to pretend that this is a real and fair opportunity for our American Middle Class and Working Poor Citizens, only delays the very needed future change of Federal Financing of all these Federal appeals becoming a normal formula of Our American judicial system.

    It was not so very long ago that Public Defenders became a Reality in this country.Prior that legal reality taking place, their were also some who thought giving anyone charged with a crime a free lawyer was a waste of taxpayers $$.

    This FACADE and HORROR of our Federal Appeal proce$$ is not worthy of the Greatest Country In The World! ***GREAT SOCIETIES THAT DO NOT PROTECT EVEN THEIR INNOCENT, BECOME THE GUILTY !

    A MUST READ ABOUT AMERICAN INJUSTICE:
    1) YAHOO 2) GOOGLE
    (MANNY GONZALES THE KID THAT EVERYONE FORGOT IN THE CA PRISON SYSTEM.) ** A JUDICIAL RIDE OF ONES LIFE !

    ***Someone please tell our US Congress that the GED degree that Manny Gonzales acquired in prison is not a LAW DEGREE !!!!!!

    lawyersforpooramericans@yahoo.com (424-247-2013)

    Reply

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