Saturday, September 6, 2008

TOO SOON AND TOO MANY QUESTIONS

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Editorial
New York Times
September 6, 2008

tay of Execution Is Rejected in Texas (June 17, 2008)

Texas is infamous for the cavalier way that it applies the death penalty. Still, the case of Charles Hood, who is scheduled to be executed on Wednesday is especially appalling. Mr. Hood’s lawyers have presented evidence that during his trial, the judge was having an affair with the prosecutor. Gov. Rick Perry should grant Mr. Hood a temporary reprieve, and if the reports of the affair are correct, Mr. Hood must be given a new trial.

Last year, Texas carried out 60 percent of the nation’s executions. Prosecutors have a record of pushing for the death penalty in cases that defy both the law and basic standards of decency. A few years ago, the state attorney general battled all the way to the Supreme Court in a failed attempt to win the right to execute an inmate whose lawyer repeatedly fell asleep during his trial.

Lawyers for Mr. Hood have presented an affidavit from a former assistant district attorney who worked in the Collin County office that prosecuted the murder and robbery case. He said that at the time of the trial it was “common knowledge” in the office that the then-district attorney, Thomas S. O’Connell Jr., and the trial judge, Verla Sue Holland, were having a romantic relationship.

A state court judge has scheduled a hearing for Monday on the allegations of an affair, and Texas’s attorney general has said that he would ask the courts to conduct an investigation. It is critical that Mr. Hood be given a reprieve long enough for that investigation to be completed.

A distinguished group of 22 former judges and prosecutors has urged Governor Perry to grant a reprieve while the investigation goes on. As they note, the United States and Texas Constitutions both guarantee defendants the right to due process, which includes a trial before an impartial judge.

We believe the death penalty is, in all cases, unconstitutional and wrong. Even supporters of capital punishment should be appalled at the prospect of executing a man after a trial that — if Mr. Hood’s charges are true — was so grossly unfair.

1 comments:

P Ray said...
September 7, 2008 at 2:30 AM  

Who cares if the judge was having sex with a donkey!
The SOB was found guilty by a jury of his peers, not the judge. Execute him!

The AG just wants to get the judge to make a big political name for himself.He is not interested in justice.