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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, December 04, 2012

 
And justice for all

by digby

Oh God:

A former death row inmate with intellectual disabilities has languished in the Texas prison system for over 30 years despite having no valid criminal conviction. Jerry Hartfield, an illiterate man with an IQ of 51, had his capital conviction overturned in 1980 because the jury at his trial had been improperly selected. A Texas appeals court ordered a new trial for Hartfield, but that trial has never happened. In 1983, then-Governor Mark White attempted to commute Hartfield's former death sentence to life without parole. However, a federal court has recently ruled that the commutation was irrelevant since Hartfield was not convicted of a crime. No action had been taken on the case until 2006, when another inmate helped Hartfield file a handwritten motion, asking that he be either retried or set free.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected the petition, but a federal judge agreed with Hartfield, saying the decision overturning his conviction still stands. U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Hughes said, "Hartfield's position is as straightforward and subtle as a freight train....The court's mandate was never recalled, its decision never overturned, the conviction never reinstated; yet Hartfield never received the 'entirely new trial' ordered by the court." The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit called the state's defense of Hartfield's incarceration "disturbingly unprofessional" and returned the case to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals for further action. Given the Sixth Amendment's right to a speedy trial, it is not clear that Hartfield could be re-tried.

And the real joke is that there are many people who will tell you that the fact this poor man hasn't been executed proves that our death penalty system is perfect.

At this point I think it's fairly obvious that Texas is an authoritarian police state. Which makes the US an authoritarian police state as well. How any country that even calls itself civilized can allow this is beyond me. It literally makes me ill.


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