Troy Davis's scheduled execution, and Georgia's broken death penalty, continue to draw scrutiny. Here are a couple of
articles worth reading:
*EU legislature protests US death sentence
*Supreme Court Justice Stevens Calls Georgia Death Penalty Reviews "Utterly Perfunctory"
EU legislature protests US death sentence
8 hours ago
STRASBOURG, France (AP) — The European parliament is strongly protesting plans to execute a man in the United
States who has been sentenced to death for killing a police officer.
Troy Davis is scheduled to be executed in Georgia on Oct. 27, despite calls from his supporters to reconsider because
seven of nine key witnesses against him have recanted their testimony.
EU parliament head Hans-Gert Poettering says all executions are violations of human rights. He says the condemned
American symbolizes the fate of all death row inmates, and vows the EU legislature "will fight against the death
penalty under any circumstances everywhere in the world."
The 40-year-old Davis was sentenced to death for the 1989 murder of 27-year-old Savannah police officer Mark
MacPhail. His case has also attracted support from former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and South Africa Archbishop
Justice criticizes the way Ga. court reviews cases
By GREG BLUESTEIN - Associated Press Writer
ATLANTA --A U.S. Supreme Court justice criticized the way Georgia's
top court reviews death penalty cases, saying Monday that the court
has carried out an "utterly perfunctory" review of a capital
Justice John Paul Stevens' opinion Monday criticizes the Georgia
Supreme Court's practice of reviewing each case to determine if the
punishment is proportional. The process aims to ensure that a capital
punishment sentence isn't disproportionate to penalties in similar
Stevens' opinion come as part of a ruling released Monday that denied
a review of the death penalty against Artemus Rick Walker, a black man
who was sentenced to death for a 1999 murder of a white banker.
Stevens said he worries that "there's a special risk of arbitrariness
in cases that involve black defendants and white victims," and that
the Walker case is "particularly troubling" because the court's review
appeared to consist of only a single paragraph.
The Georgia court, he said, "must take seriously its obligation to
safeguard against the imposition of death sentences that are arbitrary
or infected by impermissible considerations such as race."
The opinion drew a strong response from Justice Clarence Thomas, who
noted that Georgia's proportionality review is not required by federal
law or the high court's precedent.
"There is nothing constitutionally defective about the Georgia Supreme
Court's determination. Proportionality review is not constitutionally
required in any form," he wrote. "Georgia simply has elected, as a
matter of state law, to provide an additional protection for capital
Stevens announced during the last Supreme Court term that he has come
to believe that the death penalty is unconstitutional. He had been one
of the authors, 30 years earlier, of the opinion that allowed states
to begin executing inmates again after a hiatus of several years.
He is not the first person who has criticized Georgia's death penalty
procedure, as criminal defense lawyers have argued before that the
state has failed to ensure that the death penalty is evenly applied.
But the criticism, the first from a Supreme Court justice, could
encourage more challenges to Georgia's death penalty procedures.
The Georgia Supreme Court declined comment on the rulings, saying the
opinions speak for themselves.
The underlying case involves Walker, who was convicted of murdering
Ray Lynward Gresham, a vice president of a bank that had turned down
Walker's application for a loan.
Walker and a man he hired to carry out the killing rode bicycles to
Gresham's home on May 12, 1999, rang the doorbell and drew Gresham
outside. Walker then took a knife and stabbed Gresham 12 times in the
chest and back, according to court records.
After trying unsuccessfully to break into his house, the two men fled
on bicycles. Walker was found guilty and sentenced to death, and the
Georgia Supreme Court unanimously upheld the sentence in 2007, finding
it was "not disproportionate.
Walker's attorneys asked the Supreme Court to take a look at the case,
arguing that the Georgia court failed to conduct a meaningful review
of the case. The court denied the motion on grounds that his attorneys
failed to bring the argument up in lower court.
In a concurring opinion, Stevens criticized the Georgia court's
process for vetting death penalty cases.
Although the court cited 21 cases in supporting the death penalty,
Stevens questioned why the court didn't cite cases similar to Walker's
in which the jury imposed a sentence of life in prison. And he
suggested the court failed to fully vet the case.
"Rather than perform a thorough proportionality review to mitigate the
heightened risks of arbitrariness and discrimination in this case, the
Georgia Supreme Court carried out an utterly perfunctory review," he
Thomas, in his opinion, countered that Stevens was "simply wrong" in
his assertion that the high court requires Georgia's justices to
consider cases where the death penalty was not imposed.