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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Richard Glossip to be executed this afternoon

I remember as a 7th grader doing the clock countdown with my classmates to the execution of Caryl Chessman in April, 1960 and applauded with the rest of them when the clock struck the moment, an action I profoundly regret today.  So I have watched with horror the unseemly haste with which the  the politicos in Oklahoma are driven to execute Richard Glossip.

Whether anyone should be executed without any physical evidence and merely on the say-so of someone (Sneed - who says he was hired by Glossip) who had everything to gain by ratting out someone else is problematic at best. And evidence is accumulating that Glossip might in fact be innocent as he has consistently maintained.  I'm not so naive as to always believe the protestations of the convicted, yet to argue that courts and juries never make mistakes is the height of hubris and shows a reverence for big government I just can't accept. Unfortunately, evidence of innocence has never been enough to overturn a conviction in the appellate courts as Justice Scalia noted in Re Troy Anthony Davis, a writ for habeas corpus, as I was reminded when reviewing Anatomy of Injustice, the story of a mentally deficient man who was convicted three times of a murder which we now know he did not commit.

This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is “actually” innocent. Quite to the contrary, we have repeatedly left that question unresolved, while expressing considerable doubt that any claim based on alleged “actual innocence” is constitutionally cognizable.

As I noted in my review, it seems to me that innocence should trump just about everything and when trial courts engage in malfeasance, no matter how many trials someone has, shouldn’t exculpatory evidence best all else?

Justice is a concept everyone wants but is all too often defined as revenge rather than fairness. As of May 2014, 14,000 people have been executed in the United States and 3,000 remain on death row. It has been estimated that 4% of those executed were innocent. and more information at

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