Update (12/8/2010): The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest court whose judges run for the bench in partisan elections, has suspended the hearing into the constitutionality of the Texas death penalty.
As a hearing to determine whether the Texas death penalty is unconstitutional began yesterday, prosecutors, who are clearly appalled that the question could even be considered, announced that they will remain silent throughout the process. These are adults, not five-year-olds, so by all accounts they will not hold their breath until they turn blue, but they have attempted to appeal to a higher court to shut down the hearing.
If that doesn’t work then, while defense attorneys provide Harris Country District Judge Kevin Fine with evidence that Texas capital punishment has become a mish-mash of bias and error that unacceptably risks executing the innocent (and there’s plenty of evidence to provide), lawyers for the state will do … nothing.
Ironically, this means the prosecutors will be giving the Texas death penalty the same woefully inadequate legal representation that so many capital defendants have gotten.
Evidence that Texas has already executed innocent people, and that efforts to reform or improve the system have failed or been derailed by politics, continues to mount. By not participating in this hearing, these prosecutors are exemplifying the attitude of so much of Texas leadership who, when confronted with clear proof that the death penalty system is broken, simply refuse to act.