Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Is innocence a bar to execution?

This just in...the State of Texas has decided that executing an innocent citizen is, after all, a violation of the Eighth Amendment.  

Since 1992, the official stance of Texas (and the U.S. Supreme Court) was that (f)actual innocence is not a bar to execution.  In arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court, assistant Texas Attorney General Margaret Griffey argued that it was not a violation of the Eighth Amendment for Texas to execute a man they knew was innocent.

Now, in response to a question from Houston Chronicle columnist Lisa Falkenburg, Jerry Strickland, a spokesman for the Attorney General's Office, stated that executing an innocent citizen would be a "miscarriage of justice."

Of course, just last month the state argued against Larry Swearingen's claim of actual innocence before the 5th Court of Appeals on the grounds that he had missed the deadline to file his claim.

So, is it okay to execute an innocent man or not?

See also:


My Law License said...

I once heard someone say that if 1% of the people executed were innocent, that was a reason to KEEP the death penalty. He'd take the 99%

That attitude unfortunately is not just his.

Paul B. Kennedy said...

Thank you for the comment.

One area I address during voir dire are the panelists attitudes toward the statement that it is better that ten guilty men go free than that one innocent man suffer. The answers I get are astounding.

There are a lot of jurors in Harris County who are fine with an innocent man getting convicted if that's the price for convicting all of the guilty ones.

I once even had a prosecutor object to that question.

Andrew said...

Well you want. Same Texas.