serious

Well, here's to Texan justice.

There's an article in the Observer today by one of my heroes, Clive Stafford-Smith, about the execution last week in Texas of his client Jackie Elliot.

It's an interesting and sickening tale.

Eight hours before the point of execution, the prosecution finally turned over - after more than sixteen years - documents including a witness statement identifying another man as the killer. This man, Ricky Elizondo, was a key prosecution witness and got a relatively light sentence - ten years - in return. The other key witness was also potentially facing a murder charge, but in return for his testimony, he was released immediately. The move to delay the execution until DNA tests could be performed - none had been previously - was supported by, among others, the original trial judge and all 12 jurors. As I'm sure you're all aware, no court involved could be persuaded that any of this warranted any action. It is an interesting point that at this stage, innocence is no longer grounds for appeal - only technicalities will be considered.

Does this sound like "beyond reasonable doubt" to you? Well, maybe it does. The surprising thing is that this is how more or less all capital cases read, in the end. The fact is that the only thing that will send you to the executioner is not having a decent lawyer. No-one with enough money to hire a halfway competent lawyer will be executed for murder. It's the preserve of the poor.

Have a happy Sunday, folks