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Monday, August 17, 2009

Troy Davis deserves hearing, say Supremes

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This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that condemned Georgia inmate Troy Anthony Davis should get a chance to present new evidence in court, according to the AP and other news sources.

Keeping track of the Davis case over the past two years has been like watching a nail-biting tennis match — with a human life at stake. Davis, who was convicted and sentenced to death in 1991 for the murder of an off-duty Savannah police officer, has twice three times had his scheduled execution delayed as his case was reviewed, re-reviewed and shuffled from one court to another, yet he'd not been granted another day in court — until now.

According to the AJC:

The high court ordered a federal judge to “receive testimony and findings of fact as to whether evidence that could not have been obtained at the time of trial clearly establishes [Davis’s] innocence.”

The two dissenters on the Court were Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Anyone surprised?

In his majority opinion, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that the questions about the Davis case indicate too great a chance that the verdict was wrong:

“Imagine a petitioner in Davis’ situation who possesses new evidence conclusively and definitively proving, beyond any scintilla of doubt, that he is an innocent man. The dissent’s reasoning would allow such a petitioner to be put to death nonetheless.”

Specifically, there's the troubling fact that seven of nine witnesses for Davis' prosecution have recanted their testimony.

Over the past couple of years, Davis' case has become an international cause celebre, with prominent backers for the call for clemency or a new trial, such as former President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI, former FBI Director William Sessions and former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr.

For more info, check out our Troy Davis reference page.

(An earlier version of this post mistakenly indicated Davis had been greanted a new trial.)

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