• May 12, 2009

Houston Institute Intervenes in Case of Troy Davis

After filing a brief on the innocence claims of Troy Davis, who sits on death row and faces execution despite substantial evidence of actual innocence, before the Georgia Supreme Court in 2007, this month the Houston Institute filed a brief before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of 27 former judges and prosecutors. We argue that in examining whether exercising jurisdiction and demanding further evidentiary proceedings are warranted, the Supreme Court should consider the sui generis quantum of new evidence of “actual innocence” in Mr. Davis’ case, the unavailability of further judicial or other remedies, and the profound consternation within the courts as to whether he is actually innocent but without an adequate opportunity for judicial review.

Read our brief before the U.S. Supreme Court:

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As Bob Herbert wrote in the New York Times:

This week Mr. Davis’s lawyers, led by Mr. Ewart of the Arnold & Porter law firm in Washington, filed a last-ditch, long-shot petition with the Supreme Court, asking it to intervene and allow Mr. Davis’s claims of innocence to be fully examined.

An extraordinary group of 27 former judges and prosecutors joined in an amicus brief in support of the petition. Among those who signed on were William Sessions, the former director of the F.B.I.; Larry Thompson, a U.S. attorney general from 2001-2003; the former Congressman Bob Barr, who was the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia from 1986-1990; and Rudolph Gerber, who was an Arizona trial and court of appeals judge from 1979-2001.

The counsel of record for the amicus brief is the Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree. The brief asserts that the Supreme Court should intervene “because Mr. Davis can make an extraordinary showing through new, never reviewed evidence that strongly points to his innocence, and thus his execution would violate the Constitution.”