Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Troy Davis Case - What's Right and What's Wrong

Troy Davis was executed by the State of Georgia on September 21, 2011. Davis was indicted for murdering a police officer in 1989 and convicted of this crime in 1991. He was sentenced to be executed ten years ago. Between sentencing and execution his attorneys had numerous appeals and reviews by various jurisdictions including the Georgia Supreme Court, The United States District Court, The United States 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court, and a at least two special review panels. I counted 11 reviews during the past 10 years.

There had been multiple appeals for new trials and for more evidentiary hearings from notables that include Pope Benedict, former president Jimmy Carter, former FBI director William Sessions, and even Al Sharpton.

First of all, no judge and no court decisions should be influenced by external pressure, whether it comes from Al Sharpton or even Pope Benedict. If the purpose of the demonstrations was for new trials or new hearings, these appeals were in keeping with what actually occurred. There were multiple new judiciary and evidentiary hearings - none of which apparently led to an overturning of the original conviction and sentencing.

None of the notables were present in the courtroom. None of the notables were present for evidentiary argument during the many appeals. I wasn't there, and I would contend that none of the readers of this entry were there.

I am not arguing for the death penalty. I am very opposed to the death penalty. But I firmly support our judicial process, which I believe to be as fair and unprejudiced as possible. Davis's case was considered by many courts on a myriad of occasions. And unless we suspect some form of judicial conspiracy among the various levels of review, it is reasonable and right to conform with their decisions.

Were this not a death penalty case, I wonder if anyone would even have heard of it. Unfortunately Georgia (one of 34 states) supports the death penalty - a form of punishment that has been judged to not be "cruel and unusual."

Yes the death penalty is harsh and, to my way of thinking, wrong. Demonstrations against it are in order - as a matter of fact there should be more of them! But to demonstrate and chastise those committed to the law and its interpretation is unreasonable.

We should not be questioning guilt or innocence here. That is not our place. We were not present in the courtrooms. We should, however, be taking a stand against execution even when the evidence for murder is overwhelming; and even for the most callous of murderers.

On the same day that Davis was executed, Lawrence Russell Brewer was executed in Texas. Brewer was convicted of chaining a man to the back of a pickup truck in 1998 and pulling him along a bumpy road to his death. Protestations and demonstrations against his execution were either non-existent or not publicized. Why?

No comments: