Sunday, October 03, 2010

TEXAS: October 13th Hank Sinner case before the Supreme Court & More...

JUST IN from Bill...


Oyez, Oyez! Justice Elena Kagan Joins Court; Cases Scheduled on Death Penalty, First Amendment Cases Scheduled on Death Penalty, First Amendment; Court term begins Monday

Justice Elena Kagan will take the bench of the Supreme Court on Monday, joining her 8 colleagues for the 1st day of arguments of the 2010 term.

Death Penalty:

Henry Skinner was WITHIN A COUPLE OF HOURS of his execution when the Supreme Court intervened. The Court has agreed to hear his case asking whether he could bring his request for DNA evidence as a civil rights claim.

Skinner was convicted in 1995 in Texas of killing his girlfriend, Twila Busby, and her 2 adult sons. Skinner, who said he doesn't remember much from the nights of the murders, says he could never have killed anyone because he was too incapacitated by massive quantities of alcohol and codeine.

Since his conviction, he has sought testing of the remainder of DNA material found at the crime scene. Although the State of Texas agreed to more testing, it did not test Ms. Busby's fingernail clippings, a bloody towel and two knives that were at the crime scene.

In court papers attorneys for the Texas district attorney argue that Skinner was proven guilty of the murders based not only on some DNA but on "extraordinary amounts of other physical evidence, his own statements, and numerous witnesses' testimony." The lawyers argue that states have important interests in "preserving the finality of valid convictions" as well as "avoiding the costs associated with defending successive, meritless challenges to convictions and sentences."

The high court will focus on a narrow procedural issue that has split some of the circuit courts: Can such a claim be brought as a civil rights claim, or is it restricted to the more traditional route of writ of habeas corpus -- the right of a defendant to know all the evidence against him or her?

According to Nina Morrison, a staff attorney at the Innocence Project, "This case is about equal access to justice and whether the civil rights law can be used to keep innocent people from being executed for crimes they didn't commit. Even though the court will consider a narrow procedural issue regarding which legal action is the appropriate one to bring for DNA testing, it raises issues of fairness and accuracy in the administration of the death penalty that have been in the forefront of the justice system over the last decade."

(source: ABC News)

For more on Hank and Sandrine as well as their "fight" CLICK here; here and see The Odyssey of a Condemned Texas Man's French Wife: Le Monde, FranceMar 26, 2010 ... FRANCE 24 VIDEO: Coverage of the case of Hank Skinner, and the battle being fought by his wife, French national Sandrine Ageorges Skinner here for earlier report with video; Also, as always, keep watching Dr. Rick Halperin's Death Penalty News and Updates...


Connie L. Nash said...

Thank You, Bill, for this update and reminders about the Journey. Keep those items coming in...YOU too, Gilles and Hooman...

Gilles said...

Dear Connie (and Susanne), congratulations on making this blog one of the 50 Best on Capital Punishment! Also, check our new "Texas Journey of Hope 2010" Blog at

I am posting every day before the Journey starts and will be reporting daily from Texas during our tour October 15-31!

All the best!