Monday, June 28, 2010

US SC Allows Defendant to Challenge 2nd DeathSentence/ More on Troy Davis Case

Clarence Thomas, US Supreme Court (Photo credit goes to Death Penalty Info Center)

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Death Penalty Information Center

What's New
U.S. Supreme Court Allows Defendant to Challenge Second Death Sentence
Posted: June 28, 2010

On June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Billy Joe Magwood, who was twice sentenced to death for the 1979 murder of Coffee County Sheriff Neil Grantham. Magwood was sentenced to death a second time by a trial court after his original sentence was overturned by a District Court. When Magwood filed a habeas petition challenging his new sentence, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that Magwood's challenge to his new death sentence was an unreviewable “second or successive” challenge. Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority, said "because Magwood's habeas application challenges new judgment for the first time, it is not 'second or successive.'" The Supreme Court decision allows Magwood to challenge his second death sentence as a brand new judgement, even if it raises issues that could have been made against the original sentence.

Judge Norman Nelson, Former Georgia US Supreme Court Justice
(Photo credit goes to Death Penalty Info Center)
NEW VOICES: Former Georgia Supreme Court Justice Would Have Granted Troy Davis a Hearing
Posted: June 25, 2010

Judge Norman Fletcher served on the Georgia Supreme Court and was in the majority that upheld Troy Davis's original conviction and death sentence on direct appeal. However, Judge Fletcher has noted he was not on the court after many of the witnesses from Davis's trial recanted their testimony, and he probably would have voted in favor of a new evidentiary hearing for Davis if he was on the court today. Judge Fletcher recently wrote about the wisdom of retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stevens regarding his decision in the Troy Davis case to grant such a hearing: "[His] leadership in this case was a triumph of the common-sense notion that innocence matters; it matters more than procedural technicalities. No matter whether one opposes or supports the death penalty, I would hope we can at least agree that the innocent should not be executed." Of Davis's case, he wrote further, "No matter the outcome of this case, Davis stands for the principle that the factual innocence or guilt of people sentenced to death matters. For those facing the irreversible punishment of death, we should always do our best to get to the truth. Never should procedural rules trump the consideration of newly discovered exculpatory evidence."

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