Apr 4, 2011
Once again, the Supreme Court has shown itself ready to condemn an innocent man to death – this time Troy Davis.
In 1991, Davis was sentenced to death for the 1989 murder of Mark MacPhail, an off-duty Savannah, Georgia police officer working as a security guard. Police charged Davis with the murder, despite no gun or any other physical evidence linking him to the crime.
Almost all the witnesses who testified against him in the original trial have since recanted their testimony, accusing the cops of coercing them to lie. Other witnesses were found who testified that someone else had confessed to committing the murder.
In 2009, the Supreme Court put Davis’s execution on hold. But instead of giving him a new trial, it ordered a U.S. District Court to let Davis present evidence of his “innocence.”
That was a way to calm down the widespread international outrage over this case, but it gave Davis no means to defend himself. The District Court soon ruled that he hadn’t proved his innocence, only cast “reasonable doubt” on his guilt.
It is almost always impossible for someone to “prove innocence.” It’s why the standard for conviction has long been that the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone is guilty.
By refusing to hear his case again, the Supreme Court turned its back on this standard, reverting to the one used by those ministers three centuries ago who burned women at the stake who couldn’t “prove” they weren’t witches!
Defend Troy Davis! Defend democratic rights!