UPDATE (X2): Stay Granted by Sup. Ct. for Troy Davis (Action Items for Troy Davis – Execution Set for Sept. 23)

September 16, 2008

UPDATE #2: The US Supreme Court will meet to consider Mr. Davis’s appeal on Monday, September 29 — which is exactly what the Court had originally agreed to do, before the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles opted to schedule Mr. Davis’s execution prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling.  Perhaps the State of Georgia’s eagerness to execute Mr. Davis prior to the high court’s ruling betrays something about the state’s priorities, which don’t appear to include an interest in truth, justice, or fairness.  Having said that, if the US Supreme Court ultimately declines to hear Mr. Davis’s case, “this stay shall terminate automatically.”  More from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution here.

UPDATE: Just hours before Mr. Davis’s scheduled execution, the US Supreme Court granted a stay.  As I understand it they will rule on the cert petition next week.

With permission, I’m reposting some information from Troy Davis’s sister, Martina, who urges anyone concerned to take the following actions in hopes that this week will not be Troy’s last.  Thanks again to Deirdre O’Connor for her tireless advocacy for Troy, and for passing this along to me.

Below is a set of action items, followed by a message from Martina (parentheticals are Deirdre’s):

1) Write to Board asking them to reconsider (Please focus on Troy’s innocence NOT the death penalty.  The Board will not be swayed by anti-death penalty sentiments.  See http://freetroydavis.com for facts/arg on Troy’s innocence.)

State Board of Pardon and Paroles
2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE
Suite 458, Balcony Level, East Tower
Atlanta, Georgia 30334-4909

Board’s Fax – There seems to be some confusion as to which is the better fax number.  Here are three you can use.

(404) 651-8502
(404) 651-5282
(404) 463-6627

General Email: Clemency_Information@pap.state.ga.us

Board Members email:

Chairperson L.Gale Buckner gale_buckner@pap.state.ga.us
Garland Hunt garland_hunt@pap.state.ga.us

Robert Keller robert_keller@pap.state.ga.us
Milton Nix milton_nix@pap.state.ga.us
Garfield Hammonds garfield_hammonds@pap.state.ga.us

Link for bio’s on Board members

Gale Buckner http://www.pap.state.ga.us/opencms/export/sites/default/home/buckner.html

Garfield Hammonds http://www.pap.state.ga.us/opencms/export/sites/default/home/hammonds.html

Garland Hunt http://www.pap.state.ga.us/opencms/export/sites/default/home/hunt.html

Milton Nix, Jr. http://www.pap.state.ga.us/opencms/export/sites/default/home/nix.html

Robert Keller http://www.pap.state.ga.us/opencms/export/sites/default/home/keller.html

2) *****(IMPORTANT – The COURT is the ONLY body that can order a new trial!  PLEASE do not dismiss the power of people to MOVE mountains.  Forget about the odds and just act.)  Urge the US Supreme Court to issue a stay and grant Troy’s petition for certiorari

(sign petition http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/innocencematters, publish an open letter to Court on Blog, reach out to any contacts you have with the Court and hold rallies urge Court intervention)

3) Write to the US & GA Attorney Generals – (Call for an immediate investigation into the DA’s failure to investigate the witnesses’ claims of police coercion and their complete failure to investigate Redd Coles’ culpability.  Prosecutors are supposed to seek justice NOT to defend a wrongful conviction.  There has never been an investigation into the case.)

Please use info from AG’s website to support your demand – see GA AG’s mission statement & guiding principles http://law.ga.gov/00/channel_title/0,2094,87670814_87670947,00.html

Mailing Address:

Office of the Attorney General
40 Capitol Square, SW
Atlanta, Ga 30334

Phone:(404) 656-3300

Fax: (404) 657-8733

4) Reach out to all your media contacts – spread the story and the outrage!

5) Write to Pres. Bush.  (I’d add Obama and/or McCain and GA legislators)

White House contact info http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

Barack Obama contact http://my.barackobama.com/page/s/contact2

John McCain http://www.johnmccain.com/Contact/

For ideas on how to make the greatest impact, see “Share Your Ideas With President” at http://charityguide.org/volunteer/fifteen/presidents-email-address.htm?gclid=CLCc0-bf3ZUCFQIfswodAicsDw

GA legislators – http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/FindLegislator.htm

Deirdre

To all,

This message is from Martina Correia (Troy’s sister),

I want everyone to know that we are still fighting for Troy, you have not heard from me in two days because I have been trying to answer so many calls and get rest in between. I went to see Troy yesterday and he is in good spirits, prayerful and saying we can never give up – they can take my physical form but nothing else. But this is not the time to think he will be executed – we have to fight them and we have to fight hard.

I want to first tell you that something strange has taken place with the Parole Board: as we went in the Chair, Gale Buckner, said they had a lot of information to review and a decision would not be made on Friday. The lawyers presented the additional witnesses who told accounts of police detectives threatening them with guns, and the D.A. threatening with perjury if they changed their testimonies against Troy – most of these people were teenagers – one guy who testified was 15 years old at the time and admitted that he and his friends were the ones involved in a shooting earlier that night and they threw shell casings near the scene that of course did not have Troy’s prints on them.

The lawyers showed how they put Troy’s picture on wanted posters after Coles pointed the finger at Troy and they took a polaroid out of my mom’s house and they only showed the witnesses that photo to identify Troy several days after he had turned himself in. So Troy was never picked out of lineup. The police detectives merely brought the one picture after his face in the newspaper, etc., and said ‘is this the guy?’.

We were so very confident when we left the room – no way Troy’s sentence should not have been commuted.
Then less than 30 minutes after the D.A.’s side left, the Parole Board held a press conference and denied Troy; a reporter said “Martina, it was like all the air was sucked out of the room – no one thought Troy would remain in prison and the Parole Board offered no reason, because they do not have to. The Parole Board in Georgia meets in closed doors, no recorded meetings, no transcripts, no accountability.”

When Troy got the first stay (of execution) they said there would be no executions in Georgia when there is some doubt – well with the two hearings there is more than some doubt – there is overwhelming doubt of Troy’s innocence so why would they deny him without explanation? I think because three of the members are former prosecutors and two are former police from the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, some sort of deal was made against Troy. I think they wanted to flex their muscle because they have no one to answer to.

WE HAVE TO KEEP FLOODING THEM WITH LETTERS AND FAXES TO RECONSIDER BECAUSE THEY CAN STILL STOP THIS EXECUTION. WE HAVE TO HOLD THEM TO THEIR WORD THAT NO ONE WOULD BE EXECUTED WHEN THERE IS DOUBT.

So plan of actions we need done: 1. HOLD ACTIONS, DEMONSTRATIONS WITH MEDIA IN PLACE TO TELL WHAT THE PAROLE BOARD DID AND HOW THEY HAVE NO ACCOUNTABILITY.

2. CONTINUE TO HAVE PEOPLE SIGN LETTERS TO THE PAROLE BOARD THERE WILL BE A NEW LETTER ON AMNESTY SITE ASKING THE BOARD FOR RECONSIDERATION. YOU CAN ALSO WRITE YOUR OWN LETTER, STATING REASONING: IN 100 YEARS OF GEORGIA’S DEATH PENALTY THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A CASE OF 7 RECANTATIONS, NO PHYSICAL EVIDENCE, NO WEAPON AND YOU SEEK DEATH.

3. MASS LETTERS TO US ATTORNEY GENERAL ASKING FOR IMMEDIATE INTERVENTION IN THIS CASE DUE TO PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT, AN CC. GEORGIA ATTORNEY GENERAL

4. MASS LETTERS TO WHITE HOUSE ASKING FOR INTERVENTION IN THIS CASE

5. CONTACT EVERY MEDIA OUTLET YOU KNOW – MASS LETTERS TO CNN INTERNATIONAL, OTHER NATIONAL MEDIA AND CELEBRITY OUTLETS THAT CAN GIVE US A PLATFORM TO GET WHAT HAPPENED OUT TO THE MASSES.

6. THERE WILL BE A RALLY IN ATLANTA PROBABLY THURSDAY EVENING – CONTACT AMNESTY’S JESSICA COHN <JCOHN@AIUSA.ORG> OR LAURA MOYE <LMOYE@AIUSA.ORG> .

ANOTHER GROUP IS PLANNING A PROTEST IN FRONT OF CNN IN ATLANTA ON SATURDAY THE 20TH – CONTACT Lawyer Henderson <cinemacitypictures@hotmail.com> OR 678-437-6256

7. THOSE WHO HAVE CONTACTS WITH U.S. SUPREME COURT MEMBERS, OR OP-EDS TO MEMBERS, WE NEED THEM TO ACT ON AN EMEREGENCY STAY AND IF WE CAN MAKE ENOUGH NOISE, RAISE ENOUGH ATTENTION, HOPEFULLY THEY CAN TAKE TROY’S CASE

IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE REVIEWED BY THEM ON SEPT 29TH. THE D.A. IN SAVANNAH MOVED THE DATE OF EXECUTION UP WHILE THE U.S. SUPREME COURT WAS ON VACATION.

8. THE LAWYERS THINK IT IS A SLIM CHANCE THE U.S. SUPREME COURT WILL ACT SO WE HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BY MAKING AS MUCH NOISE AS WE CAN.

ANY AND ALL IDEAS YOU HAVE WE HAVE TO GO FOR IT TO SAVE TROY, SO AS ACTIVISTS I SAY DO WHAT YOU DO!!!!!

Attorney General, Michael B. Mukasey 202-514-2001
OR Office of the Attorney General – 202-353-1555
AskDOJ@usdoj.gov

Georgia Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker 404-656-3300 Fax 404-657- 8733

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Phone Numbers

Comments: 202-456-1111
Switchboard: 202-456-1414
FAX: 202-456-2461
TTY/TDD Comments: 202-456-6213

Please send your Fax: 404-651-8502

comments to <comments@whitehouse.gov>

Georgia Parole Board: Fax 404-651-8502

I will get you more parole board numbers

People can go on the Amnesty Website to sign petitions or fax their own letters. I will send numbers in next email. Or Text the parole board from your cell phone. Go to send message, type the name TROY, then send to 90999.

We still have Fight in Us and we will FIGHT!

Thank you all for everything you are doing –  TROY SAYS NO MATTER WHAT WE HAVE TO FIGHT BECAUSE THIS IS BIGGER THAN TROY. THIS IS A BATTLE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND TRUE JUSTICE AND WE ARE WINNING SMALL BATTLES EVERYDAY!

Martina Correia

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Troy Davis Execution Ordered for Sept. 23, 2008 in Georgia

September 3, 2008

The Chatham County Superior Court has ordered the execution of Troy Davis, which the Georgia Department of Corrrections has set for September 23, 2008, at 7p.m. EST.

As a brief recap, Mr. Davis is charged with killing a police officer, based entirely on eyewitness evidence.  There is no physical evidence in the case, and the murder weapon was never recovered.  Seven of the nine eyewitnesses have recanted their testimony, with many claiming coercion and threats by the police who conducted the original investigation.  One of the remaining witnesses has been accused of being the actual killer, and allegedly confessed to the crime.  Mr. Davis has maintained his innocence from the outset, but has remained on death row for 17 years.

In July, the European Parliament issued a resolution calling on Georgia to commute Troy Davis’s death sentence.

More information at Troy Davis’s site and at Amnesty International USA.  Anyone concerned is urged to contact the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles and urge them to commute Mr. Davis’s death sentence.  Amnesty International has created a web form, and traditional letters are encouraged as well, to the following address:

Georgia State Board of Pardons & Paroles
2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE
Suite 458, Balcony Level, East Tower
Atlanta, GA 30334

You can also fax a message to (404) 651-8502.

UPDATE: Troy Davis was denied clemency today (09/12/08).  Barring an intervention, Mr. Davis will be executed by the state of Georgia on September 23.


Justice Denied Again for Troy Davis

April 14, 2008

The AP is reporting that the Georgia Supreme Court has denied Troy Davis’s latest effort to obtain a new trial.  Mr. Davis’s attorneys filed a new motion, following the court’s March 17 denial of their earlier extraordinary motion for a new trial, this time moving for reconsideration of that earlier ruling.

A substitute opinion was also issued, with the same 4-3 split and the dissenting opinion remaining the same.  New opinion available here (PDF).

Thanks to Deirdre O’Connor at Emory Law School for the tip, and for tirelessly seeking a remedy for Mr. Davis.


No New Trial for Troy Davis

March 17, 2008

The Georgia Supreme Court today ruled 4-3 that Troy Davis, now again facing execution, will not get a new trial. According to the court, statements by a slew of witnesses who claimed that they had lied at trial under police pressure were insufficient to support a finding that a different result would likely be reached if the case were subjected to a new trial — in a case in which the only evidence presented was the apparently coerced testimony of the same witnesses. As a result of this inexplicable finding, the Georgia Supreme Court refused to stand in the way of the execution of a man who insists he is, and whom many believe to be, innocent.

This is a case in which, as we reported previously, one witness offered the following to the court:

I kept telling them that I didn’t know. It was dark, my windows were tinted, and I was scared. It all happened so fast. Even today, I know that I could not honestly identify with any certainty who shot the officer that night.
[…]
After the officers talked to me, they gave me a statement and told me to sign it. I signed it. I did not read it because I cannot read.

And another offered:

I nodded and repeated what they said, whether it was true or not…. I am not proud for lying at Troy’s trial, but the police had me so messed up that I felt that’s all I could do or else I would go to jail.

It boggles the mind that the court did not find the new evidence sufficient evidence to support a finding that a different result would be likely if a new trial were granted. The only witnesses who were not themselves accused of committing the crime came forward to claim that they had lied under pressure from police to convict Troy Davis. Three witnesses further claimed that Sylvester Coles had confessed to the crime. Two witnesses further stated that Coles was in possession of a handgun later the same night.

Chief Justice Sears dissented, along with Hunstein and Benham. According to Sears, the GA Supreme Court’s interpretation of the applicable legal standard is wrong:

I believe that this case illustrates that this Court’s approach in extraordinary motions for new trials based on new evidence is overly rigid and fails 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.

Sears further urged that “it simply defies all logic and morality” to disregard “categorically” recantation testimony that appears to undermine the validity of the evidence presented at trial. While the majority claimed that it “endeavored to look beyond bare legal principles…to the core question” of whether a jury would reach a different conclusion if presented with the new evidence, the dissenting justices urged the application of a different standard that would treat the recantations with a higher level of deference — or at least something short of categorical exclusion:

[T]his Court is free to adopt rules and standards that best promote the ends of justice, and this case illustrates with alarming clarity why this Court’s rules should allow trial courts to consider all forms of evidence that would be admissible if a new trial were ordered and to exercise sound discretion in weighing that evidence.

Sears and the other dissenters further found the new evidence sufficiently compelling to warrant, at minimum, a hearing by which to assess its credibility. Unfortunately the majority was not persuaded by her sound reasoning.

My understanding is that Mr. Davis’s case now goes back to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, which has the authority to commute his sentence to life with parole, after which point it may parole him. I will plan to follow up with action alerts as I’m advised by those continuing to work on this case on anything that members of the public might be able to do to persuade the parole board or others to help reverse this tragedy.