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September 25, 2011

An insightful spin on reform and justice in the wake of the Davis case

I found interesting and compelling today's New York Times op-ed by Ross Douthat, headlined "Justice After Troy Davis."   Here are excerpts:

For many observers, the lesson of [the Troy Davis] case is simple: We need to abolish the death penalty outright.  The argument that capital punishment is inherently immoral has long been a losing one in American politics.  But in the age of DNA evidence and endless media excavations, the argument that courts and juries are just too fallible to be trusted with matters of life and death may prove more effective.

If capital punishment disappears in the United States, it won’t be because voters and politicians no longer want to execute the guilty.  It will be because they’re afraid of executing the innocent.

This is a healthy fear for a society to have.  But there’s a danger here for advocates of criminal justice reform.  After all, in a world without the death penalty, Davis probably wouldn’t have been retried or exonerated.  His appeals would still have been denied, he would have spent the rest of his life in prison, and far fewer people would have known or cared about his fate.

Instead, he received a level of legal assistance, media attention and activist support that few convicts can ever hope for.  And his case became an example of how the very finality of the death penalty can focus the public’s attention on issues that many Americans prefer to ignore: the overzealousness of cops and prosecutors, the limits of the appeals process and the ugly conditions faced by many of the more than two million Americans currently behind bars.

Simply throwing up our hands and eliminating executions entirely, by contrast, could prove to be a form of moral evasion — a way to console ourselves with the knowledge that no innocents are ever executed, even as more pervasive abuses go unchecked.  We should want a judicial system that we can trust with matters of life and death, and that can stand up to the kind of public scrutiny that Davis’s case received.  And gradually reforming the death penalty — imposing it in fewer situations and with more safeguards, which other defendants could benefit from as well — might do more than outright abolition to address the larger problems with crime and punishment in America.

This point was made well last week by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, writing for The American Scene.  In any penal system, he pointed out, but especially in our own — which can be brutal, overcrowded, rife with rape and other forms of violence — a lifelong prison sentence can prove more cruel and unusual than a speedy execution.  And a society that supposedly values liberty as much or more than life itself hasn’t necessarily become more civilized if it preserves its convicts’ lives while consistently violating their rights and dignity.  It’s just become better at self-deception about what’s really going on.

Fundamentally, most Americans who support the death penalty do so because they want to believe that our justice system is just, and not merely a mechanism for quarantining the dangerous in order to keep the law-abiding safe.  The case for executing murderers is a case for proportionality in punishment: for sentences that fit the crime, and penalties that close the circle.

Instead of dismissing this point of view as backward and barbaric, criminal justice reformers should try to harness it, by pointing out that too often our punishments don’t fit the crime — that sentences for many drug crimes are disproportionate to the offenses, for instance, or that rape and sexual assault have become an implicit part of many prison terms.  Americans should be urged to support penal reform not in spite of their belief that some murderers deserve execution, in other words, but because of it — because both are attempts to ensure that accused criminals receive their just deserts.

Abolishing capital punishment in a kind of despair over its fallibility would send a very different message.  It would tell the public that our laws and courts and juries are fundamentally incapable of delivering what most Americans consider genuine justice.  It could encourage a more cynical and utilitarian view of why police forces and prisons exist, and what moral standards we should hold them to.  And while it would put an end to wrongful executions, it might well lead to more overall injustice.

The important points made well here by Douthat ought to sound familiar to my former students, as well as to long-time readers of this blog and my traditional scholarship.  The first major symposium I organized a decade ago at Ohio State was titled "Addressing Capital Punishment Through Statutory Reform," and the foreword I authored for the Ohio State Law Journal concluded this way:

[John Stuart] Mill’s insight about capital punishment’s “impression on the imagination” still merits considerable attention, especially when contemplating the potential for, and direction of, future reforms of the death penalty and the entire criminal justice system. Though the punishment of death may not significantly impact the behavior of potential killers, the awesomeness of this punishment indisputably does impact the behavior of our criminal justice institutions.  In particular, we are seeing today the ways in which the drama of the death penalty — the fact that we are, in Mill’s words, “so much shocked by death” — fuels a genuine and considerable interest in legislatures and legislators, and in the public at large, to be particularly cautious and conscientious before fully embracing and comfortably imposing the punishment of death.

The new public awareness of errors in capital cases combined with the death penalty’s “impression on the imagination” is what now is allowing legislators to speak and act more soberly and realistically about a range of criminal justice issues pertaining to capital punishment.  Moreover, because all the major problems identified in the administration of the death penalty — for example, wrongful convictions, racial and other disparities, poor quality and funding of defense counsel — are not unique to capital punishment, but actually plague the entire criminal justice system, advocates who have traditionally opposed  the death penalty because of due process and equal protection concerns should consider taking advantage of the unique opportunity presented by capital punishment’s “impression on the imagination” to work toward developing legislative reforms which would be a step toward remedying problems that infest the entire criminal justice system.

In other words, I am suggesting that Mill’s insight may actually point to a different sort of pragmatic, utilitarian argument for supporting (or at least tolerating) the death penalty.  In modern America, capital punishment’s “impression on the imagination” may be needed to ensure that our legal institutions do not get complacent about problems that pervade our criminal justice system, and may even provide a critical means to engineer remedies to system-wide problems through well-crafted legislative reforms.

A decade after I wrote up these ideas, I still find them compelling and I am very pleased to see the op-ed page of the New York Times reflecting similar sentiments.

A few older and recent posts on the Davis case: 

September 25, 2011 at 02:04 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Interesting to see what aspects of the death penalty one chooses to emphasize. This article overlooks most of the problems well-documented in the administration of capital punishment in the US - and even with the few it acknowledges, has the audacity to weigh the "worth' of a few wrongful executions. How practical. As alaways, people think what they want to think about the death penalty and find and weigh the reasons to suit.

Posted by: anon | Sep 25, 2011 2:21:24 PM

Prof. Berman: Frustrating. The lawyers are not listening. The reason you are not listening is the $billions in fees made on pointless appellate procedure. The pretexts are endless and government funded make work, like the no show jobs for the Mob controlling the unions. History will judge the current lawyer set up as it does the water front rackets of the 1940's. The rate of innocence is a nonsensical pretext to end the death penalty. It does justify ending all self-dealt tort immunities of the justice system.

We do not say, abolish transportation, including walking, because hundreds of innocent people are killed crossing the street, nor medicine because up to 1% of decisions may be malpractice, killing untold thousands of innocent patients a year. We allow tort litigation to compensate the estates of people killed by the carelessness of others. (imagine what would happen to doctors if they allowed 90% of all complaints to go unanswered, and wrongly treated 20% and not 1% of the patients they did treat. Those are the current rates of false negative and false positive in the lawyer profession, when it comes to crime, probably all other subject of the law, too. The reason the public hates the lawyer is not contentiousness, as the lawyer claims, it is utter failure to perform across the board, and at a cost of a totally wasted $trillion a year.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 25, 2011 2:41:19 PM

Whilst the article highlights some important issues, for example the squalid and cruel conditions of imprisonment in many penal institutions, and a selective comment on the death penalty, the solution suggested is deluded. There is no relationship between the numbers sentenced to death and executed, and the manner of treatment of inmates in the general prison population, except in so far that if the death penalty is abolished, then the evidence is that economic savings will be made which could be used for the improvement of those conditions. Whether in fact they are, and the effect this has in comparative conditions between those states with and without the death penalty, should be measurable. Does any report exist to make this comparison?
Whilst the death penalty exists, there will always be local pressures for its expansion. The Supreme Court has thus far had some success in resisting these pressures, but we know that the political composition of the court has much to do with its decisions. It cannot therefore be relied upon to withstand these pressures into the future. The poor construction of its direction concerning the mentally incompetent is an illustration of its reluctance to impose a national standard in this and other regards.
I have no doubt that both issues - that of the abolition of the death penalty, and the standards of inmate confinement (and the ethos of penal institutions), are both essential developments in the months and years ahead, but they are exclusive issues and will not benefit one jot from the attempt to associate them.
The abolition of the death penalty will create economic savings. It will also ensure that innocent people cannot be executed. And it will obviously address a wide range of other issues of inherent unfairness and morality. These are matters that stand alone.
The reform of penal institutions may be enabled to some degree from those savings, but the greatest enabler would of course come from a significant reform of sentencing policy which reverses the high levels of incarceration we see in the US.
Both require political will and a more proactive approach and direction from the Supreme Court. We need these things to happen now, not have to wait until the 22nd or 23rd century.
The sad and indisputable fact is that current laws, courts and juries ARE fundamentally incapable of delivering genuine justice when faced with processes and decisions concerning the death penalty. The shame is in not admitting it. The US is no more capable than any other nation in this respect, and to believe otherwise after the long history of the death penalty is delusional.

Posted by: peter | Sep 25, 2011 4:39:38 PM

An interesting article from across the pond about the source of Troy Davis's support. The author is an abolitionist.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Sep 25, 2011 5:13:02 PM

Although the article appears to have been written by a serious person, it can be taken only so seriously in light of this sentence toward the beginning:

"After all, in a world without the death penalty, Davis probably wouldn’t have been retried or exonerated."

I had not previously been aware that Davis was "exonerated." Under its ordinary definition, "exonerated" means, "found not to have done it." At law, it means "adjudged not guilty or not capable of being prosecuted."

None of those definitions even arguably applies to Davis. He didn't win his case; he lost it, and last week he got not one single vote on the SCOTUS either for cert or for a stay. Tellingly, there was not even a concurrence expressing reservations ON ANY GROUNDS WHATEVER. The 172-page district court opinion against him was a mangnum opus of guilt (which is why the op-ed never even mentions it). The very most that can be said for Davis is that some of the evidence used to convict him was later thrown into question (and the remainder was not). That is about a hundred miles from saying he was "found not to have done it." Indeed, even the most left wing of websites stand down from such a claim, settling for the argument that the evidence was insufficiently certain.

Death penalty skeptics (or outright opponents) are always willing to offer some reason suitable to their argument for why there remains such a heavy majority in support of the DP. The op-ed author travels that path.

Of course, DP backers are better situated to speak about their own reasoning, and I will.

The single most important reason to keep the DP is that there are many, many cases in which the evidence of guilt is beyond rational doubt; the process is visibly free from any of the usual objections about incompetent or dishonest lawyering or racism; and the crime is so cruel, cold-hearted, sadistic or hideous that no normal person could think that mere incarceration, no matter what its length, is within shouting distance of proportionate justice.


Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 25, 2011 5:47:50 PM

Peter will have no problem condemning hundreds of people to death inside the prisons, due to the protection of the ultra-violent criminal, and organized crime member. They kill hundreds if not thousands of prisoners, guards, visitors, and other service providers. All with lawyer granted absolute immunity, better than that of James Bond for his extra-judicial killings. They do so inside super max prisons, and even facilities for the criminally insane.

Why do abolitionists, which include almost all lawyers, want to protect the most violent predators? The lawyer gives absolute immunity to Neo-Nazi gang members, Mexican supremacists. So any claim of racism in the system is ironic, given the support of the lawyer for racist extremists. They generate massive government make work, potentially ended by their rapid executions or even by the institution of caning in the prison.

The murder victims? They generate nothing for the abolitionist and lawyer. They may rot.

Japanese prisons are far quieter and safer than ours. Why? Corporal punishment is encouraged, and the prisoners know it or find out quickly enough.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 25, 2011 6:00:55 PM

"...no normal person could think that mere incarceration, no matter what its length, is within shouting distance of proportionate justice."

Bill, this is a retributionist statement. It feeds into the vengeance claim of abolitionists. It comes from the Bible, a religious text written by Iraqi tribes people, therefore violates the Establishment Clause. Also, we do not want to emulate that much from Iraqi tribes or we will end up living like them. They do have good families, good loyalties, and are brave. These are admirable features of their culture. So I do not look down on anyone, just prefer to not imitate them.

Once the sole mature purpose of the criminal law, incapacitation, is accepted as such, the death penalty has to become a tool of attrition. Reach around 10,000 executions a year, at the earliest age tolerable to the public (all the violent predators are well known by age 3, because they are behaving the same way as they are at age 30). I would have no difficulty starting the 123D count at 14, and having all of them gone by age 18, before the start of the peak of their criminal careers. They already have a roughly 50% murder rate before age 30. That does not deter them from their criminality. Nothing does. I am just proposing getting rid of the other half. At 10,000 executions, we end murder, and come out 17,000 innocent people ahead. So the return on investment is fantastic, along with $trillions in enhanced value of everything, houses, schools, education, and general productivity from the increase in absolute trust level. You would be able to drop a $100 bill on the sidewalk, return in 3 weeks and it would either still be there or held for you by the close neighbor. Such trust would add $billions of value to the economy, eliminating the necessity of security costs.

But first, unfortunately, we must get rid of their rent seeking protectors, the lawyer hierarchy, around 15,000 people heading history's biggest and most powerful criminal syndicate. It even has pretenses of virtue, being a criminal cult enterprise (CCE), criminal, supercilious, and morally superior. They are really annoying.

The CCE has totally infiltrated the US government and makes 99% of policy decisions, with elected officials being figureheads. We pity Mexico for its corruption and payoffs. No payoffs here, nor bribery, nor intimidation, nor assassinations here. The Mob runs the US government, and runs it solely for its its own interests.

You know this fact better than anyone. You were an employee at will, at one point without vestments. You knew that if you crossed your supervisor, you would be Gone in 60 Seconds, and even persecuted for the innumerable rules you violated without knowledge, if you ever did something someone really hated. You knew that if you denied the core supernatural values, not existing in nature, you would be finished from the entire profession, not just your federal job. You would lose every case, and no client could hire you.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 25, 2011 6:26:24 PM

Bill,

I don't see anything wrong with the sentence you highlighted. The author points out that even if there were no death penalty Davis still wouldn't have succeeded, but in addition to not succeeding at his claims likely no one would have even taken a serious look at those claims. And certainly his case would not have become a cause célèbre. The author is claiming that Davis would have been worse off in some ways if not facing execution.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Sep 25, 2011 7:36:36 PM

Soronel --

"The author is claiming that Davis would have been worse off in some ways if not facing execution."

Yes, that's one thing he's claiming. But he's also claiming that the process that played out "exonerated" Davis, which is flat-out false.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 25, 2011 7:43:36 PM

I don't see any such claim. How do you possibly get from the language of the article to making such a statement?

Perhaps if the sentence you quote were not immediately followed by "His appeals would still have been denied, ..." but in context it seems plenty clear that the author is not making any assertion that Davis was in fact exonerated, he is merely claiming that not facing execution would not have hlped him in gaining a retrial or freedom.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Sep 25, 2011 9:31:26 PM

Bill stated: "The single most important reason to keep the DP is that there are many, many cases in which the evidence of guilt is beyond rational doubt; the process is visibly free from any of the usual objections about incompetent or dishonest lawyering or racism; and the crime is so cruel, cold-hearted, sadistic or hideous that no normal person could think that mere incarceration, no matter what its length, is within shouting distance of proportionate justice."

And a great indicator that your statement is true is the complete desire to change the subject when the Timothy McVeighs are mentioned. Or even better, the eerie silence the previous week with the Lawrence Brewer execution. A serious abolitionist should have been equally vocal about that case as Troy Davis's. They were not because they could not invent any reasonable arguments against his execution.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Sep 25, 2011 10:12:07 PM

TarlsQtr --

Just so. They pick and choose. But under the structure of their own argument, picking and choosing is not a legitimate option. The burden of abolitionism is to show that NO execution is justified. As you note, wearing blinders as to the Brewer case tells the tale on them.

The article you linked from the Telegraph is terrific, incidentally. I put it up on C&C.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 25, 2011 10:45:40 PM

Bill and TQ:

There are none so blind as a Professor at Georgetown and an Orthodox Catholic who read with one eye and are legends in their own mind.

Let's clone Timothy McVeigh so we can have that joy running up your legs for executing him again (like that msnbc idiot).

You may be top-notch legal minds, but you are mental midgets when it comes to math and science!!

The article was an attack on the CURRENT justice system as practiced in many jurisdictions.

We need:

- LE that does not entrap and lie.
- junk forensic science that cannot be refuted by dumb
public defenders who are not granted sufficient
financial resources to contradict most
public "experts".
- the many (if not most) judges at any level (state
and federal) who are apologists for the state and
determine what evidence is admissable.
- a non-publically educated, intelligent electorate
and potentially non-biased jury.

It was an article about why the death-penalty might be abolished, not because of politics, but because of ignorance.

The list really is endless.

How do you sleep at night?

Posted by: albeed | Sep 25, 2011 11:30:47 PM

Bill - you are so exercised by any notion of support for the reduction of the death penalty by any degree that you are now capable of a total lack of comprehension of simple English.
The sentence that in this instance gave rise to your latest tirade read:
"After all, in a world without the death penalty, Davis probably wouldn’t have been retried or exonerated."
This was NOT a claim or statement that Davis had been exonerated, as is amply shown by the previous word retried. He wasn't retried and he wasn't exonerated ... fact. The author hasn't implied the reverse.
The author was suggesting that Davis probably wouldn't have benefited from either of these things whether the death penalty was in place or not.
I fear he was right, but believe the system that gives rise to this likelihood to be misfocused, being reliant on procedure at the expense of honest reassessment of evidence. The 172-page district court opinion which you vault as some triumphant edict of guilt does and did nothing to bring certainty about the case .... by refusing to accept that the jury would likely have been less willing to judge Davis proven guilty or at least not proven guilty to the degree necessary for a sentence of death, if those 7 eyewitnesses had testified as they have today, the judge has usurped the jury system and taken upon himself a power of assessment that should not be invested in him. That he had the opportunity was the disgraceful decision of the Supreme Court to deny their own full review.

Posted by: peter | Sep 26, 2011 2:24:28 AM

Bill, for somebody who accuses anybody who makes the slightest error in splitting legal hairs of "lying," it's pretty bold to complain so bitterly about a phrase taken out of context.

D'ya ever notice the same 3-4 people make up about 3/4 of comments on every SL&P death penalty string? For being on the side of the issue the overwhelming majority of the public supports, there's a lot of defensiveness in reaction to even openly discussing the issues.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Sep 26, 2011 7:03:24 AM

Hi, Peter. Visited your web site. I am sorry about Greg's execution, and I believe him. You convinced me.

Under 123D, Johan Adam would have been executed before age 18, as a repeat violent offender. Both his victim and Greg would be alive and doing well. The lawyer protected someone likely committing 100's of crimes a year, including violent ones. Who knows how many people John killed to rob them of the $5 he needed to get drugs. Forget those. We do know that an early and swift death penalty would have put us ahead by two nice people, and behind by one selfish, evil MF'er. That is true in your own case.

Why did the lawyer protect John all these years? To generate lawyer fees. Nice murder victims generate nothing and may rot. You are oblivious to this basic arithmetic in your own personal case. Ahead by 2 nice people, behind by one selfish, evil MF'er. Lawyer fees came ahead of the lives of two innocent people.

Your website is the best concrete, real life argument for the death penalty as early in life as the public can tolerate. I suggest the count start at 14, the real age of adulthood and that no violent repeat offender make it to 18. Not even Bill will support that. Why? Because 10's of 1000's of lawyers would be jobless as crime and criminals are totally eradicated from the nation. Want to lower crime? Close 2/3 of law schools. All low crime nations are not rich or poor. They share one common feature, low numbers of lawyers. The current reports of low crime rates here are false and manipulated by political pressures on the police.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 26, 2011 7:19:00 AM

Supremacy - I thank you for the time you have taken to look at the website and for your recognition of Greg's wrongful execution. I'm afraid the pain of that will live with his family and friends for their lifetimes.
But I cannot join in your assertion that the early execution of John would have been an appropriate means of protecting him. Nor did we call for John's execution, in spite of the treachery and guilt.
Greg was trapped with no place to go other than the competence of the police and judiciary, and the honesty of John. John gave every opportunity, without prompt, eventually, for a correction of the wrongful conviction. He did so at great risk to his own life, and in the end chose to gambol that his own would be spared. In that he was successful.
The circumstances of this particular case were unique of course, but there are also similarities to Troy Davis. Troy was an easy target for prosecution, as was Greg. In spite of any physical evidence against either, accusations were accepted as sufficient evidence of guilt. Worse, prosecutors chose to ask for the death penalty in spite of the use of clearly untrustworthy testimony. Poor trial defense failed to protect the constitutional rights of both men, and the system is rigged to deter reversal thereafter.
I cannot support the maintenance of such a broken and effectively corrupt system of death penalty law and process.

Posted by: peter | Sep 26, 2011 9:45:27 AM

Grits stated: "D'ya ever notice the same 3-4 people make up about 3/4 of comments on every SL&P death penalty string? For being on the side of the issue the overwhelming majority of the public supports, there's a lot of defensiveness in reaction to even openly discussing the issues."

LOL More proof that you guys do not even read your own posts. A sentence after complaining that the same "3-4 people make up about 3/4 of the comments" you conduct an homage to "openly discussing the issues."

If those pro-DP people would just shut up we could have an open discussion!!!

Nothing is more relaxing than a good laugh courtesy of Grits and the gang...

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Sep 26, 2011 10:07:33 AM

Albeed,

Religious bigotry, Alinsky, and delusion; all in one post. Great job!

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Sep 26, 2011 10:11:37 AM

Oops. I guess Davis had the victim's blood on his shorts, but they were not admissable because the police obtained them without a warrant.

Sorry, Grits, there will be no second-thoughts about his innocence in this case.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Sep 26, 2011 11:35:32 AM

The story you linked to, TarIsQtr, to support your allegation that "the victim's blood" was on Davis's shorts actually says:

"There were also Davis' shorts, although these were excluded from the trial. After the MacPhail shooting, Savannah police searched the home of Davis' mother and recovered them, spotted with what appeared to be blood -- more physical evidence. But judges threw out that evidence because it was retrieved without a warrant."

"Appeared to be blood" is a bit less conclusive than "the victim's blood," wouldn't you say? If there was some DNA test linking the shorts to the victim's blood, I doubt the Washington Examiner would have overlooked that.

Maybe you know something the Washington Examiner doesn't. I don't know either way. I'm just saying that the article you linked to doesn't support your assertion.

Posted by: SRS | Sep 26, 2011 12:32:01 PM

SRS,

You are correct. It indeed was as you state. My mistake.

That said, I have never had "what appeared to be blood" on ANY pair of shorts, sweatpants, blue jeans, Dockers, or knickers that I was wearing during the commission of an alleged crime. It is still another piece of damning evidence. Of course, I have never been accused of a crime that was committed in front of 34 witnesses or had ballistic evidence point to the same gun that I had used earlier in the day during another crime either.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Sep 26, 2011 1:06:57 PM

Tar -

34 witnesses testified for the prosecution at trial. They didn't all claim to see the shooting.

Posted by: SRS | Sep 26, 2011 4:00:31 PM

Grits --

"Bill, for somebody who accuses anybody who makes the slightest error in splitting legal hairs of "lying," it's pretty bold to complain so bitterly about a phrase taken out of context."

It was not taken out of context, and the idea that I'm supposed to just ignore a statement that Davis was "exonerated" is absurd. Those who are all giddy about MacPhail's murder have presented a wildly selective and slanted story, but that's going too far, even for them.

Beyond that, to give background to your criticism: When someone claims that there were 250 people on death row who got there because of false, coerced confessions, but have now been exonerated by DNA -- yes, that person is lying, and I will say so. It was a complete concoction with not a lick of basis in reality, as you couldn't help knowing.

That kind of fabulist statement could not possibly be merely a mistake. It's lying. What's your case to the contrary?

While we're at it, your statement that I approve all killing by the state in all circumstances is also lying (in addition to smearing), but you have never apologized for it. This does not stop you from getting on your high horse to hold forth with your lecture on honesty.

Way to go.

"D'ya ever notice the same 3-4 people make up about 3/4 of comments on every SL&P death penalty string? For being on the side of the issue the overwhelming majority of the public supports, there's a lot of defensiveness in reaction to even openly discussing the issues."

Did you ever notice that the commenters on SL&P are not at all representative of the public? Of course you did, but since it suits your purpose to talk about the "public" rather than the audience here, that's what you do.

And go right ahead and quote any comment in which TarlsQtr, federalist, Soronel, alpino, Kent, adamakis or I have EVER opposed "openly discussing the issues."

The only people here who have expressed a desire to ban the opposition are in YOUR camp, not mine. Of course, some of the liberals here commendably raised their voices in opposition to banning -- while you remained silent.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 26, 2011 4:04:36 PM

SRS --

The Clinton-appointed federal judge who had this case on remand from the SCOTUS, heard all the witnesses the defense cared to call (which oddly did not include two of the so-called recanters), and issued a 172-page opinion finding that Davis was not innocent (much less "exonerated").

The Supreme Court, which, in a very unusual move, sent the case to him for a review of the actual innocence claim, unanimously rejected both Davis's cert petition and his stay application.

Justices are of course free to use concurrenes (and dissents) to voice whatever misgivings about the case, or the law, or the need for changes in the law, etc., that they care to. Last week, no Justice uttered a word expressing any doubt about either the district court's finding of guilt or the looming execution.

1. Do you know more about the evidence than the district judge?

2. Do you know more about the evidence than all nine Justices?

3. If you do not, upon what basis would you dispute the courts' disposition of this case, to wit, after TWENTY YEARS OF REVIEW, to allow the jury's judgment to be given effect?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 26, 2011 5:56:29 PM

Hey Bill -

1. No. Nor did I ever so claim.
2. No. Nor did I ever so claim.
3. I didn't dispute anyone's resolution of the case. I wrote to correct 2 factual errors in someone else's posts.

If you want to fight, at least fight with what I'm saying instead of what I haven't said.

1. Do YOU have evidence that the blood on Davis's shorts matched that of the victim?
2. Do YOU have evidence that 34 people witnessed the shooting?

Unless the answer to either of these questions is "yes," you're going after the wrong person.

Posted by: SRS | Sep 26, 2011 7:29:10 PM

TQ:

Albeed,

Religious bigotry, Alinsky, and delusion; all in one post. Great job!

TQ:

I think you mean Lewinsky. I don't give a s--t about Saul.

Thank You, and I mean this sincerely! Maybe you will see the light eventually! You truly overestimate your gut-feelings and underestimate the limitations that will eventually be put on you.

"I'm sorry TQ, but I've got to feel your balls before you board that plane."

Bill:

There should be no reasonable objections to:

Improving the establishment of accurate eye-witness testimony,

Challenging the statements of Forensic Lab Testimony (unsubstantiated reports), by cross-examining the "scientists" who performed the studies. I know that this was recently required by the SC but sincerely fear it will be limited.

Admitting confessions that were videotaped from beginning to end (There goes your FBI lies).

The list really is endless, all stacked in favor of the gubermint, to propagandize gubermint lies.

PS: The jury system was a great experiment, but the limitless resources of the gubermint have found ways to question it is "best justice system that we has existed."

Posted by: albeed | Sep 26, 2011 11:01:01 PM

SRS --

"1. Do YOU have evidence that the blood on Davis's shorts matched that of the victim?"

No. Nor did I ever so claim (to coin a phrase).

2. "Do YOU have evidence that 34 people witnessed the shooting?"

Ditto. I would note, however, that so many of the media reports have said, "seven of the nine witnesses recanted," implying that the state presented only nine witnesses, which is false. The media have also failed to note the reasons to doubt recantations, reasons well known to anyone who practices criminal law.

"If you want to fight, at least fight with what I'm saying instead of what I haven't said."

I have no interest in a fight. I have a lot of interest in whether Georgia executed an innocent man last week. I see all over the place articles and blog that say or imply it did.

What's your view? Was Davis innocent or guilty?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 27, 2011 9:23:38 AM

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