StandDown Texas Project

The StandDown Texas Project identifies and advocates best practices in the criminal justice system. To stand down is to go off duty temporarily, especially to review safety procedures. That is what Texas needs to do with its death penalty.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

U.S. Supreme Court's Impatience With Texas

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a series of Texas death penalty cases, has criticized the state Court of Criminal Appeals and the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals for failing to properly review the cases. The tone has grown sharper with every rebuke.

Even the most casual, uninformed reader can sense the Court's impatience in its latest Texas ruling. In Smith v. Texas, the Court took the highly unusual step of rendering judgement without even hearing oral arguments in the case. You can read the Court's opinion here.

Ralph Blumenthal, the Times Bureau Chief in Houston, and Adam Liptak, who covers legal issues, look at the simmering controversy in the linked article. [Note: free registration required to view NYT content]

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Perry Issues Reprieve in Frances Newton Case

Newton's case has attracted world-wide attention because she is female and has a serious claim of actual innocence. Her case had recently caught the attention of Judges William Sessions and Charles Baird.

The OpEd is here.

Earlier today, Houston Mayor Bill White called on the governor to issue the reprieve, echoing Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt's earlier call for a moratorium on executions from Harris County until crime lab problems are settled.

South Africa's Mail & Guardian had a report on the Newton case. LINK