If you are in or near Atlanta, there is a rally this Thursday at the Georgia state house:
Justice Matters: Rally to Save Troy Davis
Thursday, September 11, 2008 , 6 – 8 p.m.
Georgia State Capitol (front steps on Washington St.)
Atlanta, GA firstname.lastname@example.org / 404-876-5661 ext. 13
(There will also be a Prayer Vigil on Friday, September 12, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. More information here.)
Please come to support the rally if you can.
Troy Davis came within 24 hours of execution in July, 2007 before receiving a temporary stay of execution. But the Georgia Supreme Court denied Mr. Davis’ motion for a new trial and now he faces execution on September 23. Troy Davis was sentenced to death for the murder of Police Officer Mark MacPhail in Georgia. The case against him consisted entirely of witness testimony which contained inconsistencies even during the trial. Since then, all but two of the state’s nine non-police witnesses from the trial have recanted or contradicted their testimony. Many of these witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against Troy Davis.
On Monday, March 17, 2008, the Georgia Supreme Court decided 4-3 to deny a new trial for Troy Anthony Davis, despite significant concerns regarding his innocence. This stunning decision by the Georgia Supreme Court to let Mr. Davis’ death sentence stand means that the state of Georgia might soon execute a man who may well be innocent.
Restrictions on Federal appeals have prevented Troy Anthony Davis from having a hearing in federal court on the reliability of the witness testimony used against him, despite the fact that most of the witnesses have since recanted, many alleging they were pressured or coerced by police. Troy Davis remains on Georgia death row, and may be scheduled for execution in the near future.
Troy Davis was sentenced to death for the murder of Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail at a Burger King in Savannah, Georgia; a murder he maintains he did not commit. There was no physical evidence against him and the weapon used in the crime was never found. The case against him consisted entirely of witness testimony which contained inconsistencies even at the time of the trial. Since then, all but two of the state’s non-police witnesses from the trial have recanted or contradicted their testimony.Many of these witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against Troy Davis.
One of the two witnesses who has not recanted his testimony is SylvesterRedColes — the principle alternative suspect, according to the defense, against whom there is new evidence implicating him as the gunman. Nine individuals have signed affidavits implicating Sylvester Coles.
I have a couple of things to add.
First, I should say that, as a matter of fact, it does not matter to me — and it should not matter to you — one bit whether or not Troy Davis really is responsible for the killing he’s alleged to have committed, or, if he is responsible, whether or not the prosecution legitimate proved their case in the midst of what appears to have been a very dirty bit of business by the Gangsters in Blue. There seems to be good evidence for massive police misconduct, and for the likelihood of Davis’s innocence. This evidence is important, and let’s go ahead and scream about it as much as possible to the men and women sitting in the court and
corrections system, if it will save Troy Davis from the gallows.
But, just between us, we need to remember that even if he were obviously guilty as hell, the State has no right to commit premeditated murder in order to make him pay for it. The penalty of death is the ultimate, definitive expression of the State’s cold and sadistic violence, exercised with no defensive purpose and against women and men who no longer pose any threat to any living soul, on the theory that in the end your body and your life belong to the State, and can be mutilated and destroyed by it, at its pleasure, for its own special purposes — whether to exact
blood vengeance, or to
send a message to unrelated third parties, cut into your body by the Harrow of the criminal justice system. It is nothing more and nothing less than State-sanctioned murder, and it ought to be abolished immediately, completely, and forever.
Second, you should also note, from this story, that in the view of the Georgia Supreme Court,
final arbiter that it is, getting all the paperwork settled once and for all is apparently more important than whether or not an innocent man will be slaughtered on the basis of lying testimony extracted by intimidation and coercion at the hands of an overzealous police department, desperately seeking a black cop-killer to lynch. You may find this appalling; but it should not be surprising. This approach to The Law is essential to the very nature of the State and its legal system. Authority is held to take precedence over fact and evidence; imposed finality is held to take precedence over justice, even when it comes to punishments that are utterly irreversible, destroying forever any hope of appeal. Otherwise, anyone might just go around any old time and prove somebody’s innocence and spring them from the prisons or the gallows, a judge’s say-so notwithstanding; a journalist’s expose or an ad hoc committee’s discoveries and reasoned decisions might be just as good as that the Nine. Without sovereign authority to stand between the people and justice, doing justice would be nothing a mere human institution, open to anybody who can do some research and submit facts to a candid world. Why, it’d be Anarchy! So instead, paying due deference and having the right stamp on the right papers and uttering the right ritual incantations is held to be more important than somehing so paltry as a man’s life. That is the Majesty of the Law; that is its morality; that is its justice.
The Final Arbiter