A hearing on the constitutionality of the Texas death penalty will be held in Judge Kevin Fine's courtroom in Houston on Monday, December 6, at 9 AM. The hearing comes about six weeks after Anthony Graves was exonerated and released after spending 18 years in prison in Texas, most of it on death row, for a crime he was completely innocent of committing. Read more at the Texas Tribune.
If you live in Houston or can be there, there will be a demonstration against the Texas death penalty outside the courthouse at 8 AM on Monday (RSVP on the Facebook event page) We will go inside for the hearing at 9 AM.
Location: Harris County Criminal Justice Center
1201 Franklin, 19th Floor
Houston, Texas 77002
Texas' use of capital punishment will undergo legal scrutiny at this hearing. Evidence and arguments will be presented that there is substantial risk that the state's death penalty law does not adequately protect against the execution of an innocent person. Read the full text of the 81-page motion asking the judge to declare the Texas death penalty unconstitutional on the Texas Moratorium Network's blog. It lays it all out in compelling arguments.
John Edward Green, Jr., the defendant in Texas v. Green, is charged in the fatal shooting of a 34-year-old Houston woman during a 2008 robbery. Green’s defense attorneys will argue that a number of factors in Texas' death penalty system increase the risk of wrongful executions in Texas, including a lack of safeguards to protect against mistaken eyewitness identification, faulty forensic evidence, incompetent lawyers at the appellate level, failures to guard against false confessions and a history of racial discrimination in jury selection.
Events are building in Texas that are similar to events in Illinois that led to a moratorium on executions there in 2000. In 1999, Illinois created a couple of commissions to study the death penalty, the Task Force on the Death Penalty was created by the Illinois legislature and the Illinois Supreme Court established a study committee on the death penalty. Then in 2000, a moratorium was declared in Illinois and the governor established the Commission on Capital Punishment to study flaws in the administration of the Illinois death penalty and recommend reform.
The Texas Legislature should also enact a moratorium on executions in the upcoming session and create a commission to study the death penalty.