Saturday, September 17, 2011

Justice Deferred – Troy Davis

I often chose topics that allow me to offer a view from a different perspective that is intended to produce a thought provoking reaction. With that said I do not wish to imply that when someone has done something wrong or committed a crime and found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt that the appropriate punishment or sanction should not be applied. Now, as the great Richard Pryor so amply stated “when justice is rendered to us in the courts. What we get it is ‘Just Us!’”

Everyone knows that fairness in the realm of justice is highly suspect at best when it comes to the African American community and black men in particular. This brings me to the Troy Davis case. Davis is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Wednesday Sept. 21 more than two decades after someone pointed him out, following a 1989 shooting death of a police officer in Savannah, Ga.

The Davis Case has drawn global support from Amnesty International to the NAACP, and I will include myself. Even conservative figures, including former Rep. Bob Barr and ex-Justice Department official Larry Thompson, have urged Georgia officials to spare Davis’ life. The concern here is that since his conviction several witnesses have recanted there testimony. New witnesses have come forward to say another man was at the scene of the crime who is actually the killer. None the less, the courts have upheld the conviction repeatedly and a judge who was ordered to review Davis’ innocence claims said his arguments amount to “smoke and mirrors.”

To be fair, I don’t know if Davis is innocent or guilty but if witnesses have recanted and there’s reasonable doubt, the execution should be stayed and this Defendant should be granted a new trial. From what I have read there are too many questions and no hard evidence. It is not unheard of for the courts to reexamine cases where there are factual concerns but this usually happens when the Defendant has money – we know that. The prison population is full of minorities who can ill afford adequate legal representation.

Davis now 41 has been on death row for the last two decades for killing Savannah Police Officer. We also know of cases all over the country where people are wrongly convicted, serve years in prison and put to death. With the advent of DNA cases are reversed frequently and several states have halted executions altogether. Just this week the Supreme Court Halted Duane Buck's Execution because of errors made in this Texas case where an expert testified that a black man was more likely to commit further crimes because of this race claim.

Davis was 19 years old when he was arrested for killing officer Mark MacPhail in 1989. People are concerned about this case and protesting because no murder weapon was found and there was no DNA evidence. He was arrested due to questionable witness statements; 10 questionable witnesses in the case have signed affidavits withdrawing their statement saying that police forced them into accusing the 41 year old. This is reason enough for a new trial in this case in my opinion.

One of the jurors in the trial told Brenda Davis CNN in a 2009 interview that "If I knew then what I know now Troy Davis would not be on Death Row. The verdict would be 'not guilty.” Last night, there were more than 2000 coordinated rallies from downtown Atlanta to Ebenezer Baptist Church on Auburn Avenue on Friday showing support for Davis. Martin Luther King III, son of the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., also joined the march. For years the case has been attracting much attention. Many notables like former president Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu have urged authorities to spare Davis' life.

Laura Moye, the Death Penalty Abolition campaign director for Amnesty International USA, said that rallies for Davis were first started in Hong Kong. Those rallies went on throughout the day in the United States, Latin America, Europe and Asia. There were 10 events in France on behalf of Davis. The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles received petitions with 663,000 names urging clemency on Thursday. The board is scheduled to meet on Monday to consider whether to stop Davis' execution by lethal injection.

The U.S. Supreme Court ordered a new trial for Davis in August 2009 to judge what he said was new evidence showing his innocence. The U.S. Supreme Court then transferred the case to a U.S. District Court in Georgia for the trial. But a year later, the judge, William T. Moore Jr., discarded Davis' claims of innocence.

I am opposed to the death penalty because lady justice shows that the scales are unbalanced and she is blind. Moreover, I agree with Richard “what we get is JUST US. And that is my THOUGHT PROVOKING PERSPECTIVE…


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