Thursday, 21 May 2009

Former judges push for hearing on Troy Davis innocence claim

Group asks Supreme Court to send death row case back to federal court.

Twenty-seven former judges, justices and prosecutors are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to allow death-row inmate Troy Davis’ innocence claims to be heard in federal court.

The filing comes a day after Davis’ lawyers filed their final legal bid. They are asking the nation’s highest court to send Davis’ case back so a judge can consider the recantation testimony of a number of key witnesses who testified for the state at the 1991 trial.

Davis sits on death row for the killing of off-duty Savannah Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail in 1989. MacPhail, a 27-year-old father of two and former U.S. Army ranger, was shot before he could draw his weapon.

Davis can make “an extraordinary showing through new, never reviewed evidence that strongly points to his innocence,” the judges’ and prosecutors’ filing said. To allow Davis’ execution without appropriate legal review is “a plain constitutional injustice,” the filing said.

Among those signing the friend-of-the-court brief were former Deputy U.S. Attorney General Larry Thompson; two former state Supreme Court chief justices, including Norman Fletcher of Georgia; nine former U.S. attorneys, including former Georgia congressman Bob Barr and former FBI Director William Sessions; three former judges from the federal appeals court in Philadelphia; and former state attorneys general from Florida and New Jersey.

In a 2-1 decision in April, the federal appeals court in Atlanta rejected Davis’ request for an evidentiary hearing. The court, which had postponed Davis’ execution, extended the stay for 30 days. That expired Saturday.

Since Davis’ trial, seven of nine state witnesses have recanted their testimony and other witnesses have implicated Sylvester “Redd” Coles as the shooter. Coles was at the scene and was the first person to implicate Davis in the shooting.

(Source: )

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