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Supreme Court Orders Evidenciary Hearing for Death Row Prisoner Troy Anthony Davis; Rare Decision Could Result in New Trial
by via Democracy Now
Wednesday Aug 19th, 2009 7:27 AM
Wednesday, August 19, 2009 :The Supreme Court has taken the rare step of ordering a new hearing for Georgia death row prisoner Troy Anthony Davis. The nation's highest court ordered a federal district court in Georgia to "receive testimony and make findings of fact as to whether evidence that could not have been obtained at the time of trial clearly establishes his innocence." Davis was convicted for the 1989 killing of a white police officer. Since then, seven of the nine non-police witnesses have recanted their testimony, and there is no physical evidence tying him to the crime scene. In a Democracy Now! special, we hear from Davis, speaking from death row; Davis's fifteen-year-old nephew Antone, and his sister Martina Correia, who have led the campaign to exonerate him; Laura Moye of Amnesty International USA; and Ezekiel Edwards, a staff attorney at the Innocence Project.
The Supreme Court has taken the rare step of ordering a new hearing for Georgia death row prisoner Troy Anthony Davis. The nation’s highest court ordered a federal district court in Georgia to “receive testimony and make findings of fact as to whether evidence that could not have been obtained at the time of trial clearly establishes his innocence.”

In 1991 Davis was convicted for the 1989 killing of an off-duty police officer Mark MacPhail. There is no physical evidence tying Davis to the crime scene and seven out of the nine non-police witnesses have since recanted or altered their initial testimonies. Others have implicated the prosecution"s key remaining witnesses as the actual perpetrator of the crime.

The Supreme Court decision sparked a debate between Justices John Paul Stevens and Antonin Scalia. Justice Scalia, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, called Troy Davis’ factual claims a “sure loser,” and added that a hearing would be a “fool’s errand.” Scalia’s dissenting opinion states: “This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is "actually” innocent. Quite to the contrary, we have repeatedly left that question unresolved, while expressing considerable doubt that any claim based on alleged “actual innocence” is constitutionally cognizable."

In a separate opinion answering Scalia’s dissent, Justice Stevens, joined by Justices Ruth Brader Ginsburg and Stephen Bryer, wrote “The substantial risk of putting an innocent man to death clearly provides an adequate justification for holding an evidentiary hearing.”

Ezekiel Edwards, Staff Attorney with the Innocence Project.

Martina Correia, Troy Davis’s older sister and anti-death penalty activist.

Antone De'Jaun Correia, Troy Davis’s nephew.

Troy Anthony Davis, speaking from death row, July 15, 2009.

Laura Moye, director of Amnesty International USA’s Death Penalty Abolition Campaign.

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