Justices Scalia and Thomas Think It's Constitutional To Execute INNOCENT People

Cross posted @ DailyKos

Antonin Scalia (Yes, that Scalia) thinks mere innocence isn't enough to keep you from being executed, and his pal Clarence Thomas agrees with him.

This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is “actually” innocent. Quite to the contrary, we have repeatedly left that question unresolved, while expressing considerable doubt that any claim based on alleged “actual innocence” is constitutionally cognizable.

Scalia also states that:

Far from demonstrating, as this Court’s Rule 20.4(a) requires, “exceptional circumstances” that “warrant the exercise of the Court’s discretionary powers,” petitioner’s claim is a sure loser.

An innocent man may be put to DEATH and Scalia doesn't think that's an "exceptional circumstance"? What kind of unfeeling jerk says something like that? If HE were in Troy Davis's shoes, I'm sure he'd have a very different opinion.

Davis was convicted in 1991 of murdering an off-duty Savannah police officer, Mark Allen MacPhail, in 1989. Since his trial, Davis has claimed, seven of the state of Georgia’s key witneeses have recanted the testimony they gave at the trial. Several other individuals have implicated another man — the prosecution’s key witness against Davis — as the shooter.

Read more about Troy's case here.

In fact, as Justice Stevens points out:

JUSTICE SCALIA’s dissent is wrong in two respects.First, he assumes as a matter of fact that petitioner Davis is guilty of the murder of Officer MacPhail. He does this even though seven of the State’s key witnesses have re-canted their trial testimony; several individuals have implicated the State’s principal witness as the shooter; and “no court,” state or federal, “has ever conducted a hearing to assess the reliability of the score of [post conviction] affidavits that, if reliable, would satisfy the threshold showing for a truly persuasive demonstration of actual innocence,” 565 F. 3d 810, 827 (CA11 2009) (Barkett, J., dissenting) (internal quotation marks omitted). The substantial risk of putting an innocent man to death clearly provides an adequate justification for holding an evidentiary hearing. Simply put, the case is sufficiently “exceptional” to warrant utilization of this Court’s Rule 20.4(a).


JUSTICE SCALIA would pretermit all of these unresolved legal questions on the theory that we must treat even the most robust showing of actual innocence identically on habeas review to an accusation of minor procedural error. Without briefing or argument, he concludes that Congress chose to foreclose relief and that the Constitution permits this. But imagine a petitioner in Davis’s 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. The Court correctly refuses to endorse such reasoning.

When you execute someone, that's PERMANENT. It's not like you can just raise him from the dead if he happens to be proven innocent AFTER being killed. Even if you get a "full and fair trial" you could be innocent. While our criminal procedure and evidence rules are good, they are not PERFECT. Please let this jerk be the next one to retire, or Thomas who concurred with him.

Cross posted @ DailyKos
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