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View Diary: Released after serving 23 years for a murder he didn't do, David Ranta has heart attack (64 comments)

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  •  This is about as sad a story as I have ever seen. (18+ / 0-)

    I hope he makes it.

    There is something seriously wrong with a court system that has so little interest in the question of actual innocence.

    "I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell."

    by Notthemayor on Sat Mar 23, 2013 at 01:14:17 PM PDT

    •  If you're unfamiliar with Texas justice... (29+ / 0-)

      ...check this out. Excerpt of a very condensed version of what goes on there. And the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals had to struggle over the sleeping lawyer case!!!

      One reason for so many death sentences and executions is that Houston judges routinely appoint to represent the accused lawyers who lack the competence, resources and, in some instances, even the inclination to properly handle a capital case.  Jerry Guerinot, appointed by judges in Houston to represent clients in capital cases has had 20 clients sentenced to death due largely to his failure to “conduct even rudimentary investigations.” Adam Liptak, A Lawyer Known Best for Losing Capital Cases, New York Times, May 17, 2010.  That’s twice the number of people on Connecticut’s death row.

      Houston judges also appointed Ron Mock, a lawyer who at one time owned 11 bars, including Buster’s Drinkery, a popular downtown hangout for judges and lawyers in Houston, to 19 capital murder cases between 1986 and 2001.  Sixteen of Mock’s clients ended up on death row.   More than 10 have been executed.   The Texas Bar publicly reprimanded him twice and placed him on probation three times before suspending him from practice in 2005.  Mock stopped taking capital cases in 2001 after he was repeatedly critized for his poor representation of people facing the death penalty, including Gary Graham, who was conviction was based on a single eyewitness who saw him only fleetingly and at night, but nevertheless executed on June 22, 2000, despite questions about his guilt and Mock’s repesentation, and Frances Newton, who, when executed on Sept. 14, 2005, was the first black woman executed in Texas since the Civil War.

      Houston judges also appoined Joe Frank Cannon, known for trying cases like “greased lightning” and not always being able to stay awake during trials, to defend poor people accused of crimes.  Ten people represented by Cannon were sentenced to death, including at least two, Calvin Burdine, and Carl Johnson, who were sentence to death at trials at which Cannon fell asleep during trial.

      The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, sitting en banc, struggled mightily with the question of whether Burdine’s right to counsel was violated when his lawyer, Cannon, whose entire file was less than three pages of notes, slept during parts of the two-day trial in which Burdine was convicted and condemned to death.  A panel of the Court upheld Burdine’s conviction and death sentence, as had the Texas courts.  In argument before the full Court, judges asked whether Cannon slept through any important parts of the trial.  Of course, there was no way to know because the lawyer, who should have been making the record, was asleep.  The Solicitor General of Texas argued that Burdine’s was no different from cases in which lawyers were found effective even though they were under the influence of alcohol or drugs or suffering from Alzheimer’s.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Sat Mar 23, 2013 at 01:29:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've seen the sleeping lawyer story... (0+ / 0-)

        And how any one can claim that this country's "justice" system...actual 51 separate justice systems...can fairly impose death sentences, even if one agrees in principle with capital punishment, is beyond me.

        Of course, we live in a country where a sitting Justice on the Supreme Court is on record of having no problem with executing an innocent...or one would suppose inflicting any other punishment...as long as the letter of legal niceties has been observed.

        Though in the particular case I tip my hat to the DA, who rather than fighting tooth and nail to preserve the tainted conviction appears to have stepped up to do the right thing.

        "I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell."

        by Notthemayor on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 12:56:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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