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Constitution Project Applauds Stay of Execution for Troy Davis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JULY 17, 2007
9:34 AM

CONTACT: The Constitution Project 
Corey Owens, Communications Coordinator
(202) 580-6922 cowens@constitutionproject.org

 
Constitution Project Applauds Stay of Execution for Troy Davis
 

WASHINGTON - JULY 17 - The Constitution Project applauded today's decision by the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant Troy Davis a 90-day stay of execution. Davis, convicted in 1989 of mudering an off-duty police officer, was scheduled to be executed at 7 p.m. Tuesday, prior to the Board's decision.

Of the nine witnesses who originally testified against Davis, seven have now recanted or changed their testimony. One of the reminaing two is now accused by several new witnesses of being the actual shooter. There was no physical evidence linking Davis to the crime, and the murder weapon was never found. A lawyer for Davishas acknowledged that, because of severe budget cuts, he did not have resources needed to properly defend his client. Because of state and federal procedural restrictions, no court was able to hear any of this evidence that suggested that Georgia may have been about to execute an innocent man.

The Constitution Project's bipartisan Death Penalty Committee, which includes supporters as well as opponents of capital punishment, unanimously concluded in its report, "Mandatory Justice: The Death Penalty Revisited," that "[s]tate and federal courts should ensure that every capital defendant is provided an adequate mechanism for introducing newly discovered evidence that would otherwise be procedurally barred, where it would more likely than not produce a different outcome at trial, or where it would undermine confidence in the reliability of the sentence." Committee member William S. Sessions, former federal judge and Director of the FBI under Presidents Reagan, Bush, and Clinton, urged the Board of Pardons and Parole to stay Davis' execution, arguing that it would be "intolerable to execute a man without his claims of innocence ever being considered by the courts or by the executive."

"Today's decision should be welcomed by supporters and opponents of the death penalty alike," said Virginia Sloan, president of the Constitution Project. "All Americans should be appalled at the prospect of executing a man without a court ever hearing his claims that he is innocent. Sadly, Troy Davis is only one among many death row inmates who might be barred by procedural technicalities from proving their innocence. I hope that today's decision marks a change in how this country administers capital punishment."

For more information on the Constitution Project, please visit http://www.constitutionproject.org.

To view the report of the Constitution Project's Death bipartisan Penalty Committee, please visit http://www.constitutionproject.org/pdf/MandatoryJusticeRevisited.pdf.

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