Top Texas Court Orders End to Hearing on Constitutionality of Death Penalty – News – ABA Journal

Posted: January 17, 2011 by scaryhouse in IDOC, Prosecutorial Misconduct, Terrible Wrongs - Other Cases, The Causes of Wrongful Convictions, Uncategorized

By Debra Cassens Weiss

The top criminal court in Texas has ruled that a trial judge may not hold a hearing on the constitutionality of the death penalty when a capital murder defendant has not yet faced trial.

The Court of Criminal Appeals permanently halted the inquiry by Judge Kevin Fine in a 6-2 decision, according to the Austin American-Statesman and the Houston Chronicle. Fine had struck down the death penalty, but then he changed his mind and ordered a hearing on the constitutional issue.

The Court of Criminal Appeals said accused murderer John Edward Green Jr. did not have standing to challenge the death penalty. “One does not put the cart before the horse: A defendant has no claim of wrongful conviction or wrongful sentencing before he has even gone to trial,” the opinion said.

Lawyers for Green had argued the death penalty is unconstitutional in Texas because of the substantial risk that innocent people will be executed.

Green’s lawyers—Dick Burr, Casey Kiernan and Robert Loper of Houston—issued a press release expressing disappointment in the ruling. In two days of hearings that were held before the Court of Criminal Appeals issued a temporary injunction, evidence showed the “the system is riddled with errors,” the release said.

“Among other serious issues, Mr. Green demonstrated that Texas has failed to enact safeguards to protect against mistaken identification, routinely uses paid informants who benefit from giving false testimony, and builds cases around faulty fingerprint matches,” the press release says. “Innocent people can and do get sentenced to death in Texas and across the country. Anyone who looks the other way is fooling himself.”

via Top Texas Court Orders End to Hearing on Constitutionality of Death Penalty – News – ABA Journal.

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