Activists Slam Halt to Death Penalty Hearing
by: Pat Hernandez, December 9, 2010 5:12:00 pm
Lawyers for John Edward Green Jr, who's about to be tried for capital murder, asked presiding judge Kevin Fine to rule that the way Texas applies capital punishment is unconstitutional, because it carries a risk of executing innocent people. But the state's highest criminal court halted the hearing at the request of the Harris County District Attorney's office.
It had argued that Judge Fine had no authority to rule on the controversial issue. The Death Penalty Abolition Movement slammed The DA's office for putting a stop to the proceeding. This is spokeswoman Gloria Rubac:
"We are very disappointed in Pat Lykos. We thought that perhaps, the good old boy system was no longer in place in Harris County, but it appears that it is."
The Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement press conference. At the podium, Gloria Rubac of The Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement. Seated on the left is Clarence Brandley, who spent 10-years on death row before he was exonerated.
Lykos instructed attorneys not to comment on the hearing or the stay. But Rubac says prosecutors are afraid of the facts being presented , that show how easy it is to be wrongfully convicted in Texas. Clarence Brandley attended the press conference. He spent 10-years on death row for the 1980 murder of Conroe High school volleyball player Cheryl Ferguson, before he was exonerated.
"I've always thried to stress that just because someone is arrested and indicted, does not mean that they're guilty. People ought to wake up and look at all the people that have been charged with capital punishment through the United States that have been released."
Critics of the Texas criminal justice system say the hearing was an opportunity to air in court, well-documented problems that result in wrongful convictions and ultimately, executions. The appeals court ordered involved parties to outline their arguments in legal briefs before it decides whether the hearing should continue.