The hearing itself represented a landmark US Supreme Court decision — it was the first time in 50 years the Supreme Court instructed a lower court to hear new evidence — but many in the legal community agreed that Davis' counsel was up against an almost insurmountable burden of proof: essentially, Davis' innocence had to be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Alas, Davis' attorneys were not able to overcome that burden. Federal Judge William T. Moore ruled today that in the course of the evidentiary hearing, Davis had failed to clearly establish his innocence.
The ruling comes as a blow to the human rights community that's advocated on behalf of Davis since his conviction. CL spoke earlier today with Laura Moye, Amnesty International U.S.A.'s Death Penalty Abolition Campaign Director.
"We’re very concerned about what this ruling means," said Moye. "Ultimately, it puts Troy back on track for an execution date. We’re concerned because we felt that there are still some persisting doubts in Troy’s case that were not resolved in the hearing. The judge was tasked with very high standard, but in case of death penalty, there should never be room for doubt, especially the kind of significant doubt that exists in this case."
The 172-page ruling did contain a bright spot: Moore opined that the execution of an innocent person would constitute an 8th Amendment violation, a point of the law that's never been clearly established, bizarrely enough.
"However," Moore goes on to say, "Mr. Davis is not innocent: the evidence produced at the hearing on the merits of Mr. Davis's claim of actual innocence and a complete review of the record in this case does not require the reversal of the jury's judgment that Troy Anthony Davis murdered City of Savannah Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail on August 19, 1989."
Because Davis still has an opportunity to appeal the decision in the 11th circuit, Moye says an execution date probably won't be scheduled immediately. She says her organization will "remain vigilant" and will "continue to press Georgia authorities not to proceed with an execution."
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