Saturday, 7 July 2007

Death-penalty system not fair:

Death-penalty system not fair:

In the next few weeks, Alabama is scheduled to execute Darryl Grayson, Luther Williams and Thomas Arthur. All three men have raised issues about legal representation in their cases.

Recently, Attorney General Troy King wrote a letter to The News in which he attempted to defend Alabama's death-penalty system by asserting "the state offers unlimited attorneys' fees for (a) defendant's trial." Contrary to King's letter, all the condemned men now scheduled for execution received appointed lawyers at trial whose attorneys' fees for out-of-court work was capped by state law at $1,000.

King also wrote that the state pays a "defendant's lawyer again on direct appeal at a reasonable rate of $60 per hour." He neglected, however, to mention that under Alabama law (section 15-12-22), a lawyer handling a direct appeal in a death penalty can only receive a maximum of $2,000, no matter what the hourly rate is. Such a compensation limit for indigent, condemned prisoners facing execution perpetuates a death-penalty system that is compromised by unfairness, inequality and unreliability.

Finally, King said it was "pure fiction" that Death Row prisoners do not receive lawyers for postconviction appeals, and he challenged The News and undersigned to name "just one" Death Row inmate who is in postconviction proceedings without an attorney. Arthur never received postconviction review of his claims because he couldn't find a volunteer lawyer to file his case before the statue of limitations expired. All of his subsequent appeals have been barred.

As Grayson, Williams and Arthur can tell you, there is nothing fictional about the problems of legal representation in their cases or their impending executions.

Bryan Stevenson


Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama



Anonymous said...

Well I must agree with troy king~ I know of one inmate that is on death row`Had his days in court,tried & convicted of murdering 3 young ladies & 2 children all in one night.He had lawyers? But I ask for What? He has had several lawyers,appeals etc. For What??He was tried & convicted.Why waste the time & money.He should of been put to death 21years ago.Above & beyong the said 5 their were others,many he'll never be tried for.His confession was taken & he admitted to all???How much money has Alabama spent one him.So lets not talk money.

G. M. Larkin said...

To Mr Anonymous:

Of course you hid your name. Is that a white sheet I see?

I do not know the details of the case in question, or if the "facts" you mention are accurate. Newspaper clippings are subject to distortion, You mention that this guy was on the row for 21 years; he did not cause that delay! A constipated judicial system goes too slow; lawyers do not work timely, and judges are slow with their determinations.

If we are to have the death penalty. there has to be both due process and factual guilt. Guilt does not seem to be a problem here. One does not have to be an abolitionist to see that the death penalty in Alabama is flawed in Alabama as it is here in North Carolina and in 37 other states. This is the problem. The question here is due process, guaranteed in the US and I believe the Alabama Constitutions. If we are going to allow legal killing, all the "i"s have to be dotted, and all the "t"s have to be crossed. If not, it is a waste of money and time to have an appellate procedure designed to prevent appeals as much as possible. Alabama's sordid past of legal and illegal lynchings is too well known to mention here. That is a fact.

Those who are least able to understand the highly complex legal procedures involved in an appeal are the poor the Black the ed and the Latino/a ; they are the ones that need qualified lawyers most-- how can an illiterate person mount an appeal without a lawyer. Even if the inmate can write an appeal of sorts, less than 2% of pro se appeals are even seen by the judges, and fewer still are granted. The ability to mount a legitimate appeal is the backbone of our judicial system. Mitigation is the siver thread that guides our judicial decisions.

If you are on the right track, let's cut the bullhockey -- forget about appeals altogether, and hang 'em on a convenient tree immediately after conviction; who the hell cares if s/he is really innocent; "one nigger on a tree is as good as another".

Thank God that will not happen, unless Mr Anonymous has his way. Now do not get me wrong--- a poor white man or woman is in the exact same boat. Now set the record straight, the writer is white, American born (with ancestors going deep into American History, Protestant, and an old foggy.

G M Larkin