« Latest New York recidivism numbers provide more to be thankful for | Main | Is Big Pharma already a bigger threat to kids than Big Marijuana would be? »

November 28, 2014

Texas Justice calls for state's death penalty to be abolished

Tom-Price-Judge-Texas-Court-of-Criminal-AppealsAs reported in this local article, "Texas Court of Appeals Justice Tom Price on Wednesday denounced the death penalty, saying that Texas' 2005 life without parole law makes it unnecessary and that the possibility of executing a wrongfully convicted person is an 'irrational risk' that should not be tolerated by the criminal justice system."  Here is more about this notable development which emerged in a legal challenge to a notable planned execution:

The Dallas Republican's comments, thought to be the first time such views have been voiced by a judge on the state's highest criminal appeals court, came in a strongly worded dissent to the court's Wednesday rejection of an appeal on behalf of Scott Panetti, a Fredericksburg double-killer said to suffer from schizophrenia.  Panetti, 56, is scheduled to be executed next Wednesday.

"Based on my specialized knowledge of this process," Price wrote, "I now conclude that the death penalty as a form of punishment should be abolished because the execution of individuals does not appear to measurably advance the retribution and deterrence purpose served by the death penalty; the life without parole option adequately protects society at large in the same way as the death penalty option; and the risk of executing an innocent person for a capital murder is unreasonably high, particularly in light of procedural-default laws and the prevalence of ineffective trial and initial habeas counsel."

Price, 61, a former Dallas County state district judge, has served on the high appeals court since 1996.  His term ends this year and he has said he will not seek re-election.  In his statement, Price asserted that "society is now less convinced of the absolute accuracy of the criminal justice system."...

"In my time on this court I have voted to grant numerous applications for writs of habeas corpus that have resulted in the release of dozens of people who were wrongfully convicted," Price wrote.  "I conclude that it is wishful thinking to believe that this state will never execute an innocent person for capital murder. ... I am convinced that, because the criminal justice system is run by humans, it is naturally subject to human error. There is no rational basis to believe that this same type of human error will not infect capital murder trials."

Price's comments were greeted with surprise by law professors and appellate attorneys active in death penalty cases.  "I'm still absorbing it. It wasn't expected," said Maurie Levin, a former clinical law professor at the University of Texas who now is based in Philadelphia. "It's long overdue."  While the concerns raised by Price have been "discussed and decried around the country for a number of years now ... for a high court judge, a CCA judge, to articulate them so forthrightly is extraordinary."...

Jani Maselli Wood, an assistant Harris County public defender, an adjunct professor at the University of Houston law school and a former Texas Court of Criminal Appeals staff attorney, said she doubts Price's statement will influence legislators or incoming juries. But, "it will impact his legacy for what he wants us to remember," Wood said.  "He says we have life without parole, why do we need death convictions.  He is remarkably brave.  I think it is heroic."

Price's statement came in a dissent to the court's 6-3 vote not to consider a new appeal on behalf of Panetti that argues his mental condition "renders him categorically ineligible for the death penalty under the Eighth and 14th Amendments, because imposition of the death penalty on offenders with severe mental illness offends contemporary standards of decency."  The court found the petition failed to meet requirements for applications of post-conviction writs of habeas corpus.

Judges Elsa Alcala and Cheryl Johnson issued a separate dissenting opinion, saying they would stay Panetti's execution to allow for an examination of his claim that the Eighth Amendment prohibits execution of seriously mentally ill individuals.

The full six-page "Dissenting Statement" by Justice Price can be accessed at this link, and here is one of a number of notable paragraphs from the opinion:

Some might argue that a victim’s family deserves the finality that comes with the execution of an offender.  This is a misguided sentiment as the instant case demonstrates. Applicant has been on death row for about twenty years.  The victims’ family has not gotten finality after twenty years due to the numerous appeals and writs filed by applicant in which he has contended that his mental status makes him ineligible for execution.  And, perhaps, one would say that the answer is speeding up executions.  But creating a more restrictive temporal limitation would only increase the risk of executing a wrongfully convicted person.  In my experience, a victim’s family is more likely to quickly experience finality through the criminal justice system when an offender is sentenced to life without parole than when he is sentenced to death.

November 28, 2014 at 10:21 AM | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Texas Justice calls for state's death penalty to be abolished:


Justice Price should read this blog. I was going to call for his disqualification from hearing any more death penalty cases. However, he is leaving the bench and not seeking re-election.

"...the execution of individuals does not appear to measurably advance the retribution and deterrence purpose served by the death penalty; the life without parole option adequately protects society at large in the same way as the death penalty option; and the risk of executing an innocent person for a capital murder is unreasonably high, particularly in light of procedural-default laws and the prevalence of ineffective trial and initial habeas counsel."

Retribution is immature, and from a religious book, making it unlawful.

General deterrence also violates Fifth Amendment due process rights, punishing a person to scare another he has never met, and who has not yet committed a crime. To get effective deterrence, one would have to increase the likelihood and severity of punishment. There is likely a dose response curve for all remedies. Too little, it does not work. Too much, it is toxic.

That leaves the real purpose of the death penalty. It is not even a punishment, if that is a consequence that reduces the chance of repetition. It is an expulsion.

The error rate should prompt investigations into fixing the system, as in airline crash investigation, and not the end of transportation, and all other human activity, including the death penalty.

The LWOP option grants absolute immunity and a license to kill better than that of James Bond. He has civil service oversight and left wing Parliamentary hassles. No such nuisances for the serial killer with LWOP.

The intellectual level of the lawyer hierarchy on display in this statement.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 28, 2014 11:36:10 AM

SC seems to exist in some special world. This is not unique. Many of us are.

But, this one does not meet the sentiments set forth in the analysis. In this world, the death penalty is applied, always was, in a limited number of cases, generally as a sign of retribution. This was seen in a recent case -- kill a woman, get life. Kill a child. Get the death penalty. But, even then, many a child is killed, sometimes by child abuse, without the death penalty. If you care about the well being of children, executions won't help them too much. At least, as it is applied in the real world.

In the real world, people kill w/o thinking "oh, only twenty years? only LWOP? well oh okay!" The d.p. is also not just left to "serial killers." Charlie Manson didn't get executed. He lead murders when it was still in place. Didn't deter him much apparently.

Honest dictates that in this world, as compared to whatever realm SC is in, the judge here is more on point. I appreciate the support for fixing the system though.

Posted by: Joe | Nov 28, 2014 11:52:00 AM


As I see things the answer to the limited application of execution is not to do away with it but to do away with the shackles placed on what cases for which it can be the outcome.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Nov 28, 2014 11:59:31 AM

Joe. First, you need to disclose how much of your income comes directly from government. That fraction will represent the discount on the credibility of your arguments.

The special world from which I come is called Earth. I can attest I represent the views of the ordinary person. It is the lawyer that lives in the Twilight Zone, with supernatural doctrines, tortured logic or no logic, just feelings. No matter the political affiliation, these feelings coincidentally always result in decisions to generate more lawyer jobs.

You are still talking about deterrence, as Justice Price did. We rejected both forms, general and specific, using self evident arguments that have eluded the lawyer hierarchy, being too logical. In terms of specific deterrence, the death penalty's rarity places it in the ineffective portion of the dose response curve. I am guessing close to 5,000 executions a year would practically end all crime by attrition alone, assuming zero deterrence. Compare to the 15,000 extra-judicial executions that you are fostering by our abolitionism.

Here is the logic that eludes you. Someone has committed three violent crimes. He is now deceased. I give you a 100% written guarantee he will have zero recidivism.

Here is the ultimate abolitionist argument, again, self evident, but never brought up in policy by the lawyer. The Werther Effect. Saddam's hanging video went to Youtube. Hundreds of kids imitated, and hanged themselves. Find me that and I become an abolitionist, with all the overwhelming intellectual horsepower of ordinary common sense found in special ed kids, but never in the rent seeking lawyer.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 28, 2014 12:16:32 PM

The "shackles" is a reflection of what the people and as I see it justice determines is an appropriate outcome. "The worse of the worst" is a colloquial summary here and if you are insane or 14 etc. you aren't executed. Plus, since "life" is so precious ("we hold these truths ..."), it won't be taken w/o extra levels of protection. Even the average supporter of the d.p. agrees with this. They would not want the old practice where you can kill and be killed a couple months later.

And, even there, only a fraction of cases where it is open is it applied. This is not only a matter of appeals etc. It is because the government and juries don't want to apply it much. How does one remove such "shackles"? Mandatory penalties against the desires of all involved?

Posted by: Joe | Nov 28, 2014 12:17:42 PM

"I represent the views of the ordinary person."

You don't seem to. I try at times to see things thru the eyes of such an animal. It's somewhat helpful. But, sorry, I don't think you do. The average supporter of the d.p. doesn't agree with you from what I can tell.

Being from earth and the "world" of the average person isn't quite the same. I'll leave it there.

Posted by: Joe | Nov 28, 2014 12:21:39 PM

What is fascinating is that so many conservatives that think government too big and too arrogant think it perfect enough and not big enough when it comes to criminal justice. You can't get any bigger than the right to kill. Justice Tom Price offers a more realistic appraisal but it will make it easier to sweep wrongful convictions under the cell block bunk.

Posted by: George | Nov 28, 2014 4:05:18 PM

Joe and George: Thank you for sharing your feelings.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 28, 2014 6:39:52 PM

In response to the dissenting statement. The naivete and thoughtlessness is disturbing at that level of appellate jurisprudence.

It is not that the victim family deserves finality. It is that everyone in prison deserves more safety.

The 20 years have passed, along with $millions in taxpayer money, not because of the defense or its lawyers. They are doing their job. It is because of rent seeking lawyers on the appellate bench that protects the vicious murderer and hostage taker. As to competence, would Justice Price or any lawyer here have the skills to assassinate two people and to take two others hostage. If anyone thinks him "incompetent," please conduct an exercise using a banana as a gun with willing volunteers, See if it is easy to dispatch and control 4 people.

Restricting pretextual appeals would not increase the chance of executing the an innocent person. The appellate judges are know nothing lawyers. A real appeal would have a review by seasoned investigators to make sure some glaring mistake has not been made.

The family is likely to experience terror if the murderer escapes and is coming to finish them off. Like this guy. "He smirked and made obscene gestures at the families of his victims, including several who were wounded."


Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 28, 2014 7:58:05 PM

Lets embrace this: There are people on this planet, that just dont care or can / will ever change into a reasonable person. When such a person kills with wreckless abandon, this is most certainly why the DP hangs around.

Madoff didnt get the DP, but realistically, he should of at least he fits the type.

When you ruin lives of hundreds of older people. Bang your off the planet.

We shouldnt over analiize the matter.

Posted by: 187Midwest Guy | Nov 28, 2014 8:40:27 PM

187: I have proposed the same. Assume the adoption of the $6 million figure as the value of human life. Anyone who has destroyed more value than that by a criminal act would qualify for a mandatory death penalty. He would have assassinated an economic person.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 28, 2014 11:20:56 PM

The eradication of violent and very destructive criminals will never happen while the lawyer hierarchy runs the government for their own financial interests. This hierarchy must be arrested, tried for treason and executed on the spot. Then kill the violent and destructive criminals.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 28, 2014 11:26:09 PM

l I agree that the liberals are not really interested in LWOP. I believe so you know the disastrous results that has resulted in Spain further legal reforms proposed by the liberals: should know the Spanish experience in abolishing the prison . You and many people of goodwill who believe abolitionists want to replace the death penalty for life without parole (lwop) unfortunately is not true defenders of the rights of criminals also oppose the parole life sentence with or without parole, these penalties along with the death penalty is banned in Spain and most countries of Latin America. If you do not believe me ask him to look on the Internet data on terrorist and murderer of 25 people Juana Chaos, a case even more shameful that the the Texan Kennet Mc Duff. But for that account as far fanaticism of the abolitionist text accompanying him on the serial killer Gilberto Champa: http://www.elpais.com/.../pese/ser/criminal/serie/elpepiesp/ 20041209elpepinac_14/Tes The alleged murderer of Lleida succeeded in Ecuador passport despite being a criminal in series Gilberto Chamba served eight years for rape and murder of eight women in her countrie.
Liberals are liars and dishonests.Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Penal Reform claim that they want to abolish the death penalty so that they do not die innocent victims of miscarriages of justice but what they do not say is that it is opposed to ferormente The life without parole (lwop) to justify having granted parole to murderers of children and serial killers. truth is that if we defend the parole for lifers assume a high risk that the criminal released to kill.Cases as Kenneth_Allen_McDuff, Gilberto Champa, Darryl Kemp etc.If say that the rehabilitation support for these murderers admitting the risk of dying innocents.Clear that after abolishing LWOP the “reformers” would seek to attack Life sentences next, then any long prison sentences.

Posted by: Alfonso | Nov 29, 2014 12:26:18 AM

I read an interesting story about a conference of Amnesty International’s death penalty celeb in Japan. According to Japanese law anyone under 20 years can be sentenced to life imprisonment but to hang if you have more than 18 years. The convicts over 20 years can be sentenced to death or life imprisonment, in the latter case puden eligible for parole after 10 years in prison. Amnesty International was furious because he had submitted a draft law abolishing the death penalty but substitute life imprisonment without parole. The speakers made it clear that under no circumstances accept either the death penalty or life imprisonment without parole.

Posted by: Alfonso | Nov 29, 2014 12:27:25 AM

Alfonso - just to correct any misconception resulting from your references to Spain - Spain has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe and the world. Its intentional murder rate is 0.8 per 100,000 people (2012), again one of the lowest in Europe and the world (compares with 4.7 in the US in 2012). Where countries and states concentrate their efforts on crime prevention, education and the social issues that contribute to criminality, murder and other violent crime decreases. Tom Price is to be applauded for speaking out against the death penalty, and given the depth of his experience with its administration, it is to be hoped many others will now join him and the ever growing voices in Texas calling for abolition.

Posted by: peter | Nov 29, 2014 5:25:09 AM

I can't speak for everyone, but I'm "interested in" LWOP as a possible realistic alternative. Realistic alternatives aren't always ideal, but that is how life works.

I am not sure just how useful it is to keep ninety year olds in prison even if they committed horrible crimes as twenty-five year olds. So, yes, as some point, it seems a bit absurd though after a long prison term, it is probably realistic that some sort of group home or the like would be an appropriate location for some of these people. Likewise, there are various types of murderers for which long but not LWOP would be fit punishments.

A few like Charlie Manson types probably could be dangerous deep into their elderly years. Even these generally probably wouldn't need to be kept in normal prisons, but some sort of secured location that is a type of prison very well might be appropriate.

Posted by: Joe | Nov 29, 2014 12:29:11 PM

Peter: I live in a neighborhood with an even lower crime rate, where the lawyers live. Why when it is only 4 miles from a super high crime area? The death penalty is at the scene, as it is in Spain. The Spanish Garda are real badasses.


Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 29, 2014 12:50:53 PM

peter. Dropping lead levels in teeth in younger Spaniards.


A possible explanation for Spanish low official crime statistics.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 29, 2014 1:23:41 PM

Peter, thank you for your interest my comment. But like you I can asesgurar Spanish that European criminal law is a disaster. The comparison of the murder rate of Use should not be with Spain, but with the Hispanic countries that abolished the death penalty and sentences lifes in the nineteenth century. When a liberal revolution took power in Venezuela in the distant 1863 the death penalty and imprisonment for more than 10 years was abolished, the liberal blindness rehabilitation is not now. Results: Honduras, Venezuela Have world's highest murder rates: A
Honduras had a 2012 murder rate of 90.4 homicides per 100,000 people, Almost double Venezuela's rate of 53.7.

According To the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime's report, Central America fared particularly badly. Belize had a murder rate of 44.7, while El Salvador's was 41.2 per 100,000.

In a previous report in 2011, Honduras topped the list, with El Salvador and Venezuela in second place in third.

In the UN's latest report, the Americas Africa as the region overtook With MOST murders, thanks to a arises in organized crime, Which is Often funded from the proceeds of drug smuggling.

Nearly 40 percent of the 437,000-committed murders took place globally in 2012 in the Americas, with the majority in Central and South America, the report found.

Other countries With high murder rates include Guatemala, with 39.9 murders per 100,000; With 31 South Africa; Colombia With 30.8; With 25.2 and Brazil.

In Mexico, the murder rate was 21.5 per 100,000.

Posted by: Alfonso | Nov 29, 2014 9:36:22 PM

"Clara Campoamor branded as ” shameful” the release of Tejero and responsible to the Attorney General’s Office

The Association Clara Campoamor, who served as private prosecutor in the trial against Valentine Tejero , the rapist and murderer of girl Olga Sangrador Valladolid , has described as “shameful ” the decision of the Audiencia of Valladolid to order the immediate release of the accused, after that the European Court of Human Rights ( ECHR) lie down the ‘ Parot doctrine ‘ .
The Court of Valladolid ordered Wednesday the release of Valentine Tejero , imprisoned for two decades in prison Herrera of La Mancha (Ciudad Real) ago by various convictions , including one 50 years for the kidnapping , rape and murder of 9 year old girl and neighbor Villalon de Campos Olga Sangrador in 1992 , Therefore, Tejero recover their freedom immediately ( his departure was planned in 2025) , as did a few weeks ago , for the same reason , he also vallisoletano Pedro Luis Gallego, also known as the ‘ Elevator Rapist ‘ , also wearing 20 years serving a sentence of 273 years ( their licensing revoked stood in 2020 ) by, among other grounds , the murders of young Burgos Marta Obregón in 1993 death of young Leticia Lebrato Valladolid in 1992 and 18 more violations ."

Posted by: Alfonso | Nov 29, 2014 9:38:33 PM

Europe has good and bad points. We have a much more fair , inexpensive and effective than private healthcare U.S. healthcare system. The patients’ rights are better protected than in USA . We also have bad things , unfortunately the rights of victims of violent crimes are violated and ignored. USA is far more advanced than Europe in this regard. Marsy ‘s Law is an example for Spain and for Europe. Victims may appeal the probation and prison permissions benefits of their attackers , according to the draft law of the Statute of the Victims of Crime which was approved a few weeks ago by the Council of Ministers , at the proposal of the Minister of Justice. The project envisages the possibility for victims of terrorist crimes, homicide, assault and sexual offenses punishable by more than five years in prison , ie most serious crimes , or when you try to events likely to derive a danger to the victim. But I do not trust me .Let’s turn to an association in defense of victims of sex crimes : <

” Affected families are desolate and afraid they might recur ,” stressed the president of this organization, Estrella Blanca Ruiz, in an interview with Efe in which advocates inform victims about the location and physical changes of his attackers including Luis Gallego and Pedro Pablo García Ribado , known as the ‘ elevator rapist ‘ and ‘ rapist portal ‘, respectively.

Ruiz regrets that can not legally implement these aggressors as an electronic monitoring bracelet , so urges victims that if they find them and feel persecuted or intimidated attend the bodies and state security forces .

No further believes that the ‘ rapist lift ‘ or ‘ rapist portal ‘ are ready for their reintegration into society and recalls that “have not acknowledged the facts , they have not asked for forgiveness, they are unrepentant , have refused to perform rehabilitation courses and have not compensated their victims . ”

“In many Valladolid were mugged by the ‘ elevator rapist ‘ and psychological issues affected only 18 complaints were recorded sexual assaults in court ,” argues the president of the association for the defense of women.

Believes that ” appears” that the European Court of Human Rights, which annulled the Parot doctrine ” does not care ” if these aggressors ” commit a crime again .”

The president of the association Clara Campoamor also emphasizes that “it is this insecurity that is causing a public alarm .”>>


Posted by: Alfonso | Nov 29, 2014 9:44:21 PM

Alfonso. You are trying to argue with facts. You are not up against ignorance. You are not up against some faith based beliefs. You are not up against some insanity. Each has a remedy.

You are up against money, in the form of the rent seeking theory. It explains all anomalous lawyer nutty policies. They allow 20 million FBI Index felonies, including thousands of murders, especially of dark skinned people. They don't care about victims. They are getting their money. If you believe you can make people give up money by argument, you believe in my famous cousin, Santa Claus.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 30, 2014 1:43:01 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB