Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Of Course You've Seen Nothing, Rick

From the Dallas Morning News:

AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry reiterated his support for the state's death penalty system Tuesday after one of his predecessors raised questions about its reliability.

Questions about the arson investigation that led to the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham prompted former Gov. Mark White, a Democrat who ran as a strong advocate of capital punishment in the 1980s, to say last week that he now opposes it. Perry said Texas' system is sound.

"Our process works, and I don't see anything out there that would merit calling for a moratorium on the Texas death penalty," he said after voting early on a slate of constitutional amendments. "It's fair and appropriate, and we will continue with it."

Perry has been criticized for replacing members of the Texas Forensic Science Commission as it was about to hear from a scientist whose review raised doubts about the case.

Willingham was executed in 2004 in the 1991 Corsicana house fire that killed his three children.

In 2004, just before Willingham was executed, Gov. Perry was sent a report which exonerated Willingham. He ignored it, even though it is his job to review exactly that kind of evidence. Willingham was executed.

Last month, he prevented a commission from reviewing that same report, because, obviously, it would have shown that he negligently caused the death of Willingham, an innocent man. In Texas, this qualifies as negligent homicide.

So Perry is correct when he says that he doesn't " see anything out there that would merit calling for a moratorium on the Texas death penalty." But it's not because it's not out there. It's because he's just trying not to look.

I've written more about this here, here, and here.

As I wrote earlier:

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, in 2006, voted with a majority to uphold the death penalty in a Kansas case. In his opinion, Scalia declared that, in the modern judicial system, there has not been “a single case—not one—in which it is clear that a person was executed for a crime he did not commit. If such an event had occurred in recent years, we would not have to hunt for it; the innocent’s name would be shouted from the rooftops.”

Well, it's time to start shouting from the rooftops. Where is Mr. Scalia now?

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