Supremes Remove Innocence As Impediment to Execution

In light of the recent decision of the coathanger Supreme Court that DNA testing could be ignored in demanding execution, the action of the State of Texas in carrying out that concept is simply another link in the elongating chain of injustice from the ‘high’ court. Now being fought by those who still think executing the innocent is injustice, a convicted man in Pampa, Texas is due to die February 24th – while he pleads for his DNA to be tested and the state refuses.

In June, the Supreme Court denied the right of an Alaska man to have his DNA tested, at his own expense, to avoid being wrongfully murdered by this country. With grim irony, Chief "Justice" Roberts decided that because 46 states already gave that right to those charged with murder, the U.S. did not have to. In that ruling, he opposing his own recent decision that conflicts with many state laws against corporate funding of political campaign ads.

An LA Times editorial gives a poignant view of the problems involved for our justice system in denying anyone the right to save his life by showing his innocence; "The majority opinion is objectionable not just because of its conclusion but because it’s an object lesson in the sort of jurisprudence that, for all its command of legal technicalities, is impervious to the fundamental humane purposes of the Bill of Rights. Roberts and Stevens disagree about how to read the court’s precedents, but a more basic difference between the majority and the minority is insensitivity to the poignant predicament of an imprisoned man denied an opportunity to clear himself."

Sadly this Supreme court is working in the interests of those elements that think justice is quaint, and our Constitution is just a piece of paper.

In Texas, life has long been regarded as far from precious. Now the ‘high’ court has given them new ways to take lives of the innocent.

Skinner is scheduled to be executed on February 24 for the murders of Twila Busby and her two mentally disabled adult sons. Skinner and his lawyers insist he was too intoxicated from liquor and pills that New Year’s Eve to have killed three people, and they contend his defense lawyer — a former district attorney who had previously prosecuted Skinner for theft and assault — did a shoddy job representing him at trial. They’ve been pleading with the state for 15 years to release DNA evidence they believe could exonerate Skinner and keep Texas from killing an innocent man.

…He (Greg Jonnson)and his classmates interviewed Andrea Reed, the state’s star witness, who at trial testified that Skinner admitted to killing Busby. They talked to the widow of Robert Donnell, Busby’s uncle, who had an incestuous relationship with her and stalked her at a party the night of the murders. They visited friends and neighbors of Skinner and the victims. They dug through case files, reviewed evidence and tried to reconstruct the case to see whether their investigation led to the same conclusion as the jury. “We didn’t come in thinking he’s innocent,” Jonsson says. “We did come in thinking it’s possible mistakes were made.”

The students came away with three big questions. First, why didn’t law enforcement more fully investigate Donnell as a suspect? Second, why didn’t Skinner’s lawyers test what they saw as crucial DNA evidence from the crime scene: Busby’s fingernail clippings, a rape kit, two knives, a bloodstained dish towel and a man’s windbreaker with hair and sweat on it. “There was a pile of it here that hadn’t been tested,” Jonsson says. “That was sort of disconcerting.” Third, what about the potential conflict of interest with the lawyer appointed to represent Skinner at trial? Harold Comer was a former Gray County District Attorney who had previously prosecuted Skinner for car theft and assault.

The legacy of this coathanger court is increasingly a bloody mess. Cases brought before it are creating precedents that make this country’s judiciary one of arbitrary and unprincipled corporate mandates that work against the rights our Constitution gave us.

Are we a nation of laws if the innocent do not have the right to life? When an innocent man has to die because the court chooses political sides over justice, we are the victims of serious crime.

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