July 4, 2007
The Ghosts of Texas
The Quality of Bush's Mercy
By DAVID R. DOW
When George W. Bush was governor of Texas, he presided over more than 150
executions. In more than one-third of the cases "57 in all " lawyers
representing condemned inmates asked then-Governor Bush for a commutation of
sentence, so that the inmates would serve life in prison rather than face
Some of these inmates had been represented by lawyers who slept during
trials. Some were mentally retarded. Some were juveniles at the time they
committed the crime for which they were sentenced to death.
In all these cases, Governor Bush refused to commute their sentences, saying
that the inmates had had full access to the judicial system.
I. Lewis Libby Jr. had the best lawyers money can buy. His crime cannot be
attributed to youth or retardation. He has expressed no remorse whatsoever
for lying to a grand jury or participating in the administration,
mislead the American people about the war in Iraq. President Bush's
commutation of Mr. Libby's sentence is certainly legal, but it just as
surely offends the fundamental constitutional value of equality.
Because President Bush signed a commutation, a rich and powerful man will
spend not a day in prison, while 57 poor and poorly connected human beings
died because Governor Bush refused to lift a pen for them.
Source : CounterPunch (David R. Dow is a professor at the University of
Houston Law Center who represents death row inmates, including several who
sought commutation from then-Governor Bush)