18 March 2008

my home state's redneck court refuses new trial in face of massive recantations...

yesterday's stunning decision by the georgia supreme court by a 4-3 v6te to let the death sentence stand in the troy anthony davis case means that the state of georgia might execute a man who well may be innocent...(see ny times story below)...

with this decision, the supreme court is demonstrating a blatant disregard for justice and turning its back on the fundamental flaws that taint mr. davis's case at every level...

over 60,000 supporters signed petitions on troy's behalf, and letters of support continue to pour into his mailbox. "I want to thank all Amnesty supporters," he said, "I want to thank everyone all over the world who have been praying for me, supporting me, writing letters and signing petitions on my behalf."...troy needs your continued support today, now more than ever...

troy davis was convicted of the murder of savannah police officer mark macphail in 1991...no murder weapon was found and no physical evidence linked davis to the crime...since his conviction, seven out of nine original witnesses have either recanted or changed their testimony. officer macphail's life was cut tragically short, and his family and the people of georgia also deserve true justice...however, this will not be accomplished by executing a man with such strong claims of innocence...
take action now: help rescue a possibly innocent man from paying the ultimate price....in light of yesterday's georgia supreme court decision, i ask that you call on the georgia board of pardon and paroles to commute mr. davis' death sentence...executing troy anthony davis would be an irrevocable error that would haunt the conscience of the state of georgia forever...

peace out <3

By Brenda Goodman

ATLANTA — In a split decision, the Georgia Supreme Court refused Monday to allow a new trial for a man sentenced to death for the 1989 murder of a Savannah police officer, despite recantations from seven of nine witnesses who originally testified against him.

The ruling is a blow to advocates for the convicted man, Troy A. Davis, 39, who had collected affidavits from many of the witnesses who originally testified against him. Many said that their trial testimony had been coerced by investigators who were under pressure to convict someone in the murder of a fellow officer.

In the 4-to-3 decision, the court’s majority wrote that the sworn testimony at the trial was more important than the later recantations, noting that many of the witnesses have simply said they did not feel able to identify the person who shot the officer.

“We simply cannot disregard the jury’s verdict in this case,” the court wrote.

The dissent, written by Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears, called the court “overly rigid” in its considerations of the new evidence in support of a new trial and said it failed to allow “an adequate inquiry into the fundamental question, which is whether or not an innocent person might have been convicted or even, as in this case, might be put to death.”

The chief justice acknowledged that sworn trial testimony is generally considered more credible than later recantations made out of court. But, she wrote, “it is unwise and unnecessary to make a categorical rule that recantations may never be considered in support of an extraordinary motion for a new trial.”

On Aug. 3, the court stayed Mr. Davis’s impending execution to consider new testimony by 13 witnesses that Mr. Davis was not the one who shot the officer in the 1989 case. The shooting killed Mark A. MacPhail, an off-duty police officer who was working as a security guard at a Greyhound bus station in Savannah when he tried to break up a fight between two men who were throwing punches over beer.

Mr. Davis has long maintained his innocence, and there was little physical evidence presented against him in the case.

Amnesty International, a human rights group that has collected more than 60,000 signatures in a petition calling for a new trial for Mr. Davis, blasted the court’s decision.

“The claim that evidence in Davis’s favor was not sufficient to reopen his case is simply stunning,” said Larry Cox, executive director of the group. “In turning a blind eye to the realities of the case, the legal system has shrugged off the very notion of justice at every level, from Savannah to the U.S. Supreme Court. The board of pardons must recognize that a blind adherence to technicalities cannot trump a concerted search for the truth, especially when a human being’s life is at stake.”

Mr. Davis’s supporters had petitioned the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles for clemency last summer in a last-ditch effort to save his life. The board suspended its consideration of Davis’s case pending the Supreme Court’s Decision.

It was unclear Monday when the board would resume its deliberations.

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