Texas Death Penalty Ruled Unconstitutional; Appeal Likely

No one seems to think it will hold up on appeal, but yesterday a recently elected judge in Houston, Texas ruled that the Lone Star State’s death penalty is unconstitutional.  According to the Houston Chronicle, the Judge, Kevin Fine, stated that:

“Based on the moratorium (on the death penalty) in Illinois, the Innocence Project and more than 200 people being exonerated nationwide, it can only be concluded that innocent people have been executed. It’s safe to assume we execute innocent people.”

And:

“Are you willing to have your brother, your father, your mother be the sacrificial lamb, to be the innocent person executed so that we can have a death penalty so that we can execute those who are deserving of the death penalty? I don’t think society’s mindset is that way now.”

The ruling came in response to a pre-trial motion filed by attorneys for John Edward Green, who is charged with a June 2008 murder.  Green has pleaded not guilty.

Reaction from the Texas pro-death penalty establishment was swift. Harris County District Attorney Patricia Lykos issued a statement proclaiming that: “Words are inadequate to describe the Office’s disappointment and dismay with this ruling.”

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott responded with familiar talking points.  He condemned the ruling as “judicial activism,” and he lamented that the judge’s decision “delays justice and closure for the victim’s family,” as if an execution were right around the corner rather than at least 10 years away (assuming, of course, that Green is convicted).

Like other elected officials in the state, elected judges in Texas have traditionally been enthusiastic and active promoters of executions. Perhaps judge Fine’s ruling will encourage his fellow judges to take a more critical and independent look at the death penalty in Texas.

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25 thoughts on “Texas Death Penalty Ruled Unconstitutional; Appeal Likely

  1. Judge Fine was injudicious and irresponsible.
    Dudley Sharp, contact info below

    On March 4th, District Court Judge Fine (Houston, Harris County, Texas) found the death penalty unconstitutional based upon innocents executed. It appears that he blindly accepted defense attorney claims without fact checking them.

    Judge Fine states with " . . . more than 200 people being exonerated nationwide, it can only be concluded that innocent people have been executed." (1) The 200 number is all but irrelevant to death row, but does represent an inaccurate counting of DNA freed cases, as per the Innocence Project, for the entire prison population, not just death row. I suspect the judge received that inaccurate number from defense counsel.

    The 200 number is nearly irrelevant to death row. 9 inmates have been released from death row because of DNA exclusion.

    It appears neither Judge Fine nor defense counsel fact checked.

    There is no proof of an innocent executed in the US, at least since 1900.

    In the modern death penalty era, possibly, 25 inmates have been released from death row based upon actual innocence. (2)

    25 not 200. Analysis below.

    That is about 0.3% of those sentenced to death since 1973. All were freed.

    Likely, there is not a more accurate sanction when it comes to convicting the actually guilty and freeing the actually innocent.

    Judge Fine's decision appears similar to the one made by New York Federal District Court Judge Jed Rakoff in the Quinones case, whereby Rakoff found the federal death penalty statute unconstitutional. I stated, then, that it was an idiotic decision which would quickly be overturned. It was. At least Rakoff fact checked.

    I am sure Judge Fine is aware that the death penalty is included in both the 5th and 14th Amendments of the US Constitution and that both Texas State courts as well as the US Supreme Court have always upheld the death penalty as constitutional (2), regardless of challenge. In other words, this is simply a story of a judge going ego wild, wanting to put a personal stamp on a decision, without any care for the law or the constitution.

    Judge Fine can speculate all he wants about the innocents that may have been executed. He should, however, look at the facts and the law, before rendering a decision.

    Judge Fine also failed to notice that innocents are more protected with the death penalty than with the lesser sanction of life without parole. Judge Fine failed to notice a great deal. Or did he?

    "The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents" http://homicidesurvivors.com

    The 130 (now 139) death row "innocents" scam http://homicidesurvivors.com

    "The Innocent Executed: Deception & Death Penalty Opponents" http://homicidesurvivors.com

    Sincerely, Dudley Sharp
    e-mail sharpjfa@aol.com, 713-622-5491,
    Houston, Texas

    Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS , VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.

    A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

    (1) "Judge declares death penalty unconstitutional: Maverick jurist grants pretrial motion in Houston murder case", HOUSTON CHRONICLE, March 5, 2010

    (2) Some wrongly describe Furman v Georgia as finding the death penalty unconstitutional. It did not.

  2. Judge Fine was injudicious and irresponsible.
    Dudley Sharp, contact info below

    On March 4th, District Court Judge Fine (Houston, Harris County, Texas) found the death penalty unconstitutional based upon innocents executed. It appears that he blindly accepted defense attorney claims without fact checking them.

    Judge Fine states with " . . . more than 200 people being exonerated nationwide, it can only be concluded that innocent people have been executed." (1) The 200 number is all but irrelevant to death row, but does represent an inaccurate counting of DNA freed cases, as per the Innocence Project, for the entire prison population, not just death row. I suspect the judge received that inaccurate number from defense counsel.

    The 200 number is nearly irrelevant to death row. 9 inmates have been released from death row because of DNA exclusion.

    It appears neither Judge Fine nor defense counsel fact checked.

    There is no proof of an innocent executed in the US, at least since 1900.

    In the modern death penalty era, possibly, 25 inmates have been released from death row based upon actual innocence. (2)

    25 not 200. Analysis below.

    That is about 0.3% of those sentenced to death since 1973. All were freed.

    Likely, there is not a more accurate sanction when it comes to convicting the actually guilty and freeing the actually innocent.

    Judge Fine's decision appears similar to the one made by New York Federal District Court Judge Jed Rakoff in the Quinones case, whereby Rakoff found the federal death penalty statute unconstitutional. I stated, then, that it was an idiotic decision which would quickly be overturned. It was. At least Rakoff fact checked.

    I am sure Judge Fine is aware that the death penalty is included in both the 5th and 14th Amendments of the US Constitution and that both Texas State courts as well as the US Supreme Court have always upheld the death penalty as constitutional (2), regardless of challenge. In other words, this is simply a story of a judge going ego wild, wanting to put a personal stamp on a decision, without any care for the law or the constitution.

    Judge Fine can speculate all he wants about the innocents that may have been executed. He should, however, look at the facts and the law, before rendering a decision.

    Judge Fine also failed to notice that innocents are more protected with the death penalty than with the lesser sanction of life without parole. Judge Fine failed to notice a great deal. Or did he?

    "The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents" http://homicidesurvivors.com

    The 130 (now 139) death row "innocents" scam http://homicidesurvivors.com

    "The Innocent Executed: Deception & Death Penalty Opponents" http://homicidesurvivors.com

    Sincerely, Dudley Sharp
    e-mail sharpjfa@aol.com, 713-622-5491,
    Houston, Texas

    Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS , VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.

    A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

    (1) "Judge declares death penalty unconstitutional: Maverick jurist grants pretrial motion in Houston murder case", HOUSTON CHRONICLE, March 5, 2010

    (2) Some wrongly describe Furman v Georgia as finding the death penalty unconstitutional. It did not.

  3. Judge Fine was injudicious and irresponsible.
    Dudley Sharp, contact info below

    On March 4th, District Court Judge Fine (Houston, Harris County, Texas) found the death penalty unconstitutional based upon innocents executed. It appears that he blindly accepted defense attorney claims without fact checking them.

    Judge Fine states with " . . . more than 200 people being exonerated nationwide, it can only be concluded that innocent people have been executed." (1) The 200 number is all but irrelevant to death row, but does represent an inaccurate counting of DNA freed cases, as per the Innocence Project, for the entire prison population, not just death row. I suspect the judge received that inaccurate number from defense counsel.

    The 200 number is nearly irrelevant to death row. 9 inmates have been released from death row because of DNA exclusion.

    It appears neither Judge Fine nor defense counsel fact checked.

    There is no proof of an innocent executed in the US, at least since 1900.

    In the modern death penalty era, possibly, 25 inmates have been released from death row based upon actual innocence. (2)

    25 not 200. Analysis below.

    That is about 0.3% of those sentenced to death since 1973. All were freed.

    Likely, there is not a more accurate sanction when it comes to convicting the actually guilty and freeing the actually innocent.

    Judge Fine's decision appears similar to the one made by New York Federal District Court Judge Jed Rakoff in the Quinones case, whereby Rakoff found the federal death penalty statute unconstitutional. I stated, then, that it was an idiotic decision which would quickly be overturned. It was. At least Rakoff fact checked.

    I am sure Judge Fine is aware that the death penalty is included in both the 5th and 14th Amendments of the US Constitution and that both Texas State courts as well as the US Supreme Court have always upheld the death penalty as constitutional (2), regardless of challenge. In other words, this is simply a story of a judge going ego wild, wanting to put a personal stamp on a decision, without any care for the law or the constitution.

    Judge Fine can speculate all he wants about the innocents that may have been executed. He should, however, look at the facts and the law, before rendering a decision.

    Judge Fine also failed to notice that innocents are more protected with the death penalty than with the lesser sanction of life without parole. Judge Fine failed to notice a great deal. Or did he?

    "The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents" http://homicidesurvivors.com

    The 130 (now 139) death row "innocents" scam http://homicidesurvivors.com

    "The Innocent Executed: Deception & Death Penalty Opponents" http://homicidesurvivors.com

    Sincerely, Dudley Sharp
    e-mail sharpjfa@aol.com, 713-622-5491,
    Houston, Texas

    Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS , VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.

    A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

    (1) "Judge declares death penalty unconstitutional: Maverick jurist grants pretrial motion in Houston murder case", HOUSTON CHRONICLE, March 5, 2010

    (2) Some wrongly describe Furman v Georgia as finding the death penalty unconstitutional. It did not.

  4. Judge Fine was injudicious and irresponsible.
    Dudley Sharp, contact info below

    On March 4th, District Court Judge Fine (Houston, Harris County, Texas) found the death penalty unconstitutional based upon innocents executed. It appears that he blindly accepted defense attorney claims without fact checking them.

    Judge Fine states with ” . . . more than 200 people being exonerated nationwide, it can only be concluded that innocent people have been executed.” (1) The 200 number is all but irrelevant to death row, but does represent an inaccurate counting of DNA freed cases, as per the Innocence Project, for the entire prison population, not just death row. I suspect the judge received that inaccurate number from defense counsel.

    The 200 number is nearly irrelevant to death row. 9 inmates have been released from death row because of DNA exclusion.

    It appears neither Judge Fine nor defense counsel fact checked.

    There is no proof of an innocent executed in the US, at least since 1900.

    In the modern death penalty era, possibly, 25 inmates have been released from death row based upon actual innocence. (2)

    25 not 200. Analysis below.

    That is about 0.3% of those sentenced to death since 1973. All were freed.

    Likely, there is not a more accurate sanction when it comes to convicting the actually guilty and freeing the actually innocent.

    Judge Fine’s decision appears similar to the one made by New York Federal District Court Judge Jed Rakoff in the Quinones case, whereby Rakoff found the federal death penalty statute unconstitutional. I stated, then, that it was an idiotic decision which would quickly be overturned. It was. At least Rakoff fact checked.

    I am sure Judge Fine is aware that the death penalty is included in both the 5th and 14th Amendments of the US Constitution and that both Texas State courts as well as the US Supreme Court have always upheld the death penalty as constitutional (2), regardless of challenge. In other words, this is simply a story of a judge going ego wild, wanting to put a personal stamp on a decision, without any care for the law or the constitution.

    Judge Fine can speculate all he wants about the innocents that may have been executed. He should, however, look at the facts and the law, before rendering a decision.

    Judge Fine also failed to notice that innocents are more protected with the death penalty than with the lesser sanction of life without parole. Judge Fine failed to notice a great deal. Or did he?

    “The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents”
    http://homicidesurvivors.com

    The 130 (now 139) death row “innocents” scam
    http://homicidesurvivors.com

    “The Innocent Executed: Deception & Death Penalty Opponents”
    http://homicidesurvivors.com

    Sincerely, Dudley Sharp
    e-mail sharpjfa@aol.com, 713-622-5491,
    Houston, Texas

    Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS , VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O’Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.

    A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

    (1) “Judge declares death penalty unconstitutional: Maverick jurist grants pretrial motion in Houston murder case”, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, March 5, 2010

    (2) Some wrongly describe Furman v Georgia as finding the death penalty unconstitutional. It did not.

  5. Does your organization offer services to inmates filing pursuant to 42 11.S.C./1983 for medical neglect, or only for capital cases? My son and I have been searching for legal representation, but have been unable to find an attorney willing to take on the Department of Corrections in Florida, and are considering filing a pro se claim. I have done all I can figure out, but I am a nurse, not a lawyer. Please advise. Thank you

  6. Does your organization offer services to inmates filing pursuant to 42 11.S.C./1983 for medical neglect, or only for capital cases? My son and I have been searching for legal representation, but have been unable to find an attorney willing to take on the Department of Corrections in Florida, and are considering filing a pro se claim. I have done all I can figure out, but I am a nurse, not a lawyer. Please advise. Thank you

  7. What took so long? Good for Judge Kevin Fine. (What an appropriate name).

  8. WTG, Judge Fine! Maybe this should help study the death penalty closely, and maybe put an end to it once and for all! :)

  9. WTG, Judge Fine! Maybe this should help study the death penalty closely, and maybe put an end to it once and for all! :)

  10. This is of course of no comfort to the families of people who may have been innocent victims of the death penalty. Nevertheless, His Honour Judge Fine's judgement is the way forward.

    Please remember to other people currently facing the death penalty such as Mr Sarabjit Singh – note the facts of the case at: http://www.freesarabjitsingh.com #freeourdad on Twitter.

    I hope that you are persuaded to sign the on line petition. Thank you.

  11. This is of course of no comfort to the families of people who may have been innocent victims of the death penalty. Nevertheless, His Honour Judge Fine's judgement is the way forward.

    Please remember to other people currently facing the death penalty such as Mr Sarabjit Singh – note the facts of the case at: http://www.freesarabjitsingh.com #freeourdad on Twitter.

    I hope that you are persuaded to sign the on line petition. Thank you.

  12. This is of course of no comfort to the families of people who may have been innocent victims of the death penalty. Nevertheless, His Honour Judge Fine's judgement is the way forward.

    Please remember to other people currently facing the death penalty such as Mr Sarabjit Singh – note the facts of the case at: http://www.freesarabjitsingh.com #freeourdad on Twitter.

    I hope that you are persuaded to sign the on line petition. Thank you.

  13. Pingback: Links for March 4th, 2010 through March 8th, 2010

  14. This is of course of no comfort to the families of people who may have been innocent victims of the death penalty. Nevertheless, His Honour Judge Fine’s judgement is the way forward.

    Please remember to other people currently facing the death penalty such as Mr Sarabjit Singh – note the facts of the case at: http://www.freesarabjitsingh.com #freeourdad on Twitter.

    I hope that you are persuaded to sign the on line petition. Thank you.

  15. Oh yes. In other news, Ohio death row inmate Joe D'Ambrosio is on the road to exoneration pending a new trial that may deem him innocent. Sweet! :)

  16. Oh yes. In other news, Ohio death row inmate Joe D’Ambrosio is on the road to exoneration pending a new trial that may deem him innocent. Sweet! :)

  17. Pingback: Texas Judge to Put Death Penalty on Trial | Human Rights Now - Amnesty International USA Blog

  18. Pingback: Texas Judge to Put Death Penalty on Trial | Updated News