Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rick Perry's execution review method: What Sharon Keller says goes

If it weren't for Rick Perry's defensive reaction and attempts to stymie a review of the Todd Willingham arson investigation, I doubt the issue would ever have made it into the political arena. The public supports the death penalty and innocence cases won't/don't sway that view. But the governor keeps digging himself a deeper hole, to the point that even ardent death penalty supporters are questioning his behavior. In the New York Times today:
Katherine Cesinger, a spokeswoman for Mr. Perry, said that on the night of the execution, the governor’s general counsel thoroughly briefed him on the report of the arson expert and various appellate court decisions. He denied the reprieve, she said, because the courts “all agreed that the Hurst report was no more than an opinion and did not merit reopening the case.”
This is the first admission that the Governor actually was aware of Hurst's conclusions about arson testimony before Willingham was put to death. But since Hurst's report was filed with a last-minute habeas brief, it wasn't "all" the courts that reviewed it but only one: the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. And they think it's okay to execute someone even if the judge and prosecutor were sleeping together during trial.

So Rick Perry thought it was okay to overlook the possible execution of an innocent man because Sharon Keller said it was alright so there was no need to think about it further. That really boosts your confidence, doesn't it?

40 comments:

Faceless Man said...

Unfortunately this is just par for the course for Perry.

I keep reading these updates and all I can think of is the George Strait song, "I've Come to Expect it From You."

So many different controversies during his time in office and what is scary is that he could get re-elected.

Scott In South Austin said...

I had dinner last night with a highly respected fire investigator in Travis County. We had a long, spirited discussion about this entire Willingham execution. At the end of a fine meal, we both concluded that we have absolutely no faith or respect for our current governor.

We also laughed over the fact the current Hurricane in the Gulf of California is named Rick, and that its going to make someone's life miserable.

I will be pinching my nose in the voting booth when I vote for Kay Bailey. Honestly, how is it with a state of such fine people that we keep electing college cheerleaders as our leaders?

I apologize for the rant...

Anonymous said...

Various media sources also list the 5th circuit court of appeals as having ruled on the Hurst report.
I haved searched to no avail. Can someone who has acess to the docket confirm or deny? If in fact they did a link to the ruling is apreciated as well.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever been wrong grits? From your ramblings on every subject in the state it seems to be no.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

12:45, sure I've been wrong. Lots of times. The difference is that unlike the Governor or the Court of Criminal Appeals, I admit my mistakes, try to learn from them, and don't cover them up.

David's N Austin said...

At least when Grits may be wrong, no one or no publication is infallible, a man or woman most likely will not lose their life by State sanctioned muder! Time and time again our Court of Criminal Appeals has proven itself to be a mockery of REAL and TRUE justice. It's my belief that the members of this court not only are insensitive to the anything that might imply the innocence of an accused, they are insensitive to human life itself! I truly believe they have Alzheimer's. Perry is no different in my eyes - a real intelligent "half-wit" that will do anything to further his megalomaniac future political goals - ANYTHING! So why does Texas keep electing such idiot "good ole boys" to the Governors office and our Courts? I truly love this State, but sure do cringe and shiver at some of the real idiots that run the place!!

Anonymous said...

@Scott in South Austin: At least she's not "Governor Goodhair"- that's at least SOME improvement as it's unlikely she'll do worse than he will, based on her Senate record. As it stands, I wish there were better candidates, but I've come to expect less and less over the years out of those that we elect to "govern".

Anonymous said...

As an Aggie, I can honestly say I've never voted for Good Hair for anything.

And I never will.

This is proof of the old statement "I might not always be right, but by God, I'm never wrong."

Goodhair has never been right about anything.

halides1 said...

Anon at 11:58,

I don't know the answer to your question. But my reading of the Grann article leads me to believe that the Hurst report was given to the Board of Pardons and to Rick Perry's office. I don't infer from the article that I have read in the Chicago Tribune, that the 5th circuit ruled on the Hurst report, but I could be wrong.

Chris

Boyness said...

Rick Perry + Sharon Keller = Shanda Perkins....ROFLMAO

Anonymous said...

Why elect Hutchinson or Perry? If one of them gets the republican nomination, I will cross over in the General Election.

Anonymous said...

"At least she's not "Governor Goodhair"- that's at least SOME improvement as it's unlikely she'll do worse than he will, based on her Senate record."

4:46, tell us about her voting record? What major piece of legislation has she written that has passed? Cell phone blockers in prisons?



Hutchinson did not vote

12:00 AM CDT on Tuesday, March 10, 2009
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Members of both parties Monday voted to keep their cherished home-state projects as the Senate resumed debate on a spending bill covering foreign aid and domestic agency.

By a 63-32 vote, lawmakers rejected a bid by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to effectively strip about 8,000 of those earmarks from the $410 billion measure.

Course KBH didn't vote because she is the biggest earmarker, $150 million worth.

She voted against this amendment that would have prevented using taxpayer money to bailout the auto industry. http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=111&session=1&vote=00148

Senator Hutchinson voted against the below amendment. The amendment would have implemented Obama’s earmark reforms.
http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=111&session=1&vote=00149

Again, that's because she is the biggest earmarker from Texas.

Voted for the TARP and was not present on the vote to require the Secretary of State to certify that funds made available for reconstruction efforts in Gaza will not be diverted to Hamas or entities controlled by Hamas.

Voted against the senate bill to eliminate unnecessary spending.
http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=111&session=1&vote=00037

I voted for Perry the 1st time around, didn't vote for him the last time and won't this time either. Won't vote for KBH either.

Anonymous said...

Gritsforbreakfast said...
"12:45, sure I've been wrong. Lots of times. The difference is that unlike the Governor or the Court of Criminal Appeals, I admit my mistakes, try to learn from them, and don't cover them up."

And grits' mistakes don't kill people. Big difference. :~)

Anonymous said...

Heh... I guess we all need to consider voting for Kinky then...KBH's a non-play as well, based on her voting history.

Why is it that we seem to keep getting these special people running for office these days? Whatever happened people more akin to Thomas Jefferson?

dirty harry said...

Anonymous said...
"4:46, tell us about her voting record? What major piece of legislation has she written that has passed? Cell phone blockers in prisons?"

She voted for TARP and supported a lot of the idiotic bailout measures. That will definitely cost her my vote. Up until then, she had it.

Boyness said...

Anonymous said...

Have you ever been wrong grits? From your ramblings on every subject in the state it seems to be no.

10/20/2009 12:45:00 PM
----------------------------------
Grits may be wrong sometimes but his decisions are not life and death unlike those of Governor Wig who is NEVER wrong!

David N Austin said...

Good ole Kay is not much better than Mr. "Hairdo" - cept she wears a dress and heels. Her record in the US Senate is not the most distinguished. She's an "obstructionist" conservative Republican. I don't believe she'd do anything to reform our Texas "death machine" than "Hairdo" would. The only thing I agree with her on is that she strongly supports passenger rail infrastructure....lol.

Anonymous said...

She voted for TARP and supported a lot of the idiotic bailout measures. That will definitely cost her my vote. Up until then, she had it.

So you also refused to vote for McCain, who suspended his campaign to make sure TARP passed, right?

Yeah, I didn't think so. Economic policy only matters if it's implemented by a black man or white woman. White men can vote for it all they want, and you're most likely just fine with it.

And let's not forget that Perry accepted the funds and could have turned them all down, so he added to the "problem." A problem that is widely accepted as preventing the recession from going full-on depression, by the way.

Anonymous said...

"Economic policy only matters if it's implemented by a black man or white woman. White men can vote for it all they want, and you're most likely just fine with it."

Easy to see where your chip is.

dirty harry said...

No, I voted for McCain because he was by far the lesser of the evils.

Since you want to play the race card, I'm game. The "black man" you managed to help put in office has a chip on his shoulder bigger than Texas itself. He hates this country, and everything it stands for. That's why he keeps surrounding himself with other America-haters, communists, and perverts. Granted, Kay isn't like this, but she lost my vote because she voted out of emotion and fear, and not intelligence.

I think Perry was smart to take some of the stimulus money, especially that offered for grants to local law enforcement and crime victims. I was with him on his stance against taking the additional unemployment insurance handout. It was too piddly an amount tied to too much fed intervention.

Funny how all you hand-wringing dems out there are still touting the imaginary bailout successes. We would have been much better off without most of it.

Anonymous said...

"Economic policy only matters if it's implemented by a black man or white woman. White men can vote for it all they want, and you're most likely just fine with it."

6:29 by the way, hows that economic policy working for you?

While I won't be voting for KBH, she certainly is not in the same class as this present administration, which gets a failing grade.

Anonymous said...

Could be wrong but at the end of the day, most voters won't remember Sharon Keller or defendant Willingham.

Right or wrong, all elections come down to "what's in your wallet." Or as some say, "it's the economy stupid!"

Anonymous said...

dirty harry, you're watching too much Rush Limbaugh. That's OK with me though, because the crazier you get, the better chance we have of re-electing Obama. You just don't understand that putting Palin up there again will only ensure your loss. And the best part is that no matter how many times we tell you, you're never going to learn. In fact, you'll just be all that more adamant about it, think that if a Democrat hates her, she must be good.

America haters? Quit drinking the Kool-aid.

7:34: The economy has not affected me. I've been very lucky. It has, however, affected millions of others, and I guess you want to blame Obama for it. That's OK, he's big enough to take it. Now that experts are saying that the recession has turned a corner, I'm sure you'll be just as happy to give him the credit, as you were to give him the blame for a recession he didn't start. Right?

Anonymous said...

7:34: The economy has not affected me. I've been very lucky. It has, however, affected millions of others, and I guess you want to blame Obama for it.

No, I don't rely on government for much other than good roads, public safety, smaller government, lower taxes, strong national defense, and a commitment to individual liberty.

I don't blame Obama for it nor Bush. It's more a personal responsibility thing for me. If your outgo exceed your income then your outgo is going to be your downfall. Kind of like Waylon Jennings when he said something about "keeping up with Jones'" and "lets get back to the basics of life." Pretty simple formula.

I don't put my faith in government, only in God. Have a good day.

dudleysharp said...

It is important to note that SCOTUS and the 5th Circuit denied relief to Willingham, as well, with regard to the Hurst report.

". . . Willingham has failed to carry his burden of demonstrating that the facts alleged in the (Gerald Hurst) affidavit, if proven and viewed in the light of the evidence as a whole, would be sufficient to establish by clear and convincing evidence that, but for constitutional error, no reasonable fact finder would have found him guilty of the underlying offense. In addition to the Fire Marshal’s report clearly indicating that the fire was intentionally set, Willingham confessed his crime to another inmate furthermore, the State presented evidence that Willingham made no attempt to try to get back into the house to save his children before the fire had spread too extensively, and that he did not seem upset by the loss of his children and was more concerned about finding his dart board in the ruins of his house. Medical personnel testified that Willingham did not have injuries consistent with his description of the events on the day of the fire.

(Gerald Hurst’s) opinion is, of course, no more than an opinion and does not constitute a prima facie showing that no crime was in fact committed. (Gerald Hurst’s) opinion does not address Willingham’s confession or the additional circumstantial evidence that we have noted, upon which the jury’s verdict of guilt rested.


US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, Opinion, re Cameron Todd Willingham, no. 04 10179, 2/17/2004

dudleysharp said...

The whole idea of a Pery cover up is just plain dumb.

http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/10/16/why-gov-perry-shook-up-the-texas-forensic-science-commission.aspx

dudleysharp said...

Scott (grits):

The media has been truly horrendous on this case, as they often are in death penaltt cases.

Here, you thought only one court had reviewed Hurst's report, when 3 had.

Almost everyone I talked to about this case didn't know that any court had reviewed the case, because all they hear is that Perry refused a stay based upon the claim, with the, apparnetly, always left out, "just as the three courts who reviewed the did."

Just terrible.

Anonymous said...

Dudley,

The Trib had reported about the fith circuit. I believe Grann's article had as well.
I have not seen a reference to SCOTUS review of the Hurst affidavit.

If you have a link to the full text of these decisions it is appreciated.

dudleysharp said...

Anon:

SCOTUS and TCCA denied a stay without comment.

I wasn't saying no one had reportd on it, just that almost everyone I have spoken to, inclusive of the media, were unaware that 3 courts had denied a stay.

What we god from the media was, mostly, this ghastly governor denied a stay to an innocent man.

When that same evdience (Hurst), was also rejected by 3 courts.

It was long overdue that Perry went after the media.

Here's is some actual reporting on the story.

I did a long commentary on this story, which I sent to Grits.

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/texassouthwest/stories/102509dnprowillingham.3f5f9ad.html

Anonymous said...

Dudley,

Do you have a link to the full text of the 5th circuit opinion?

dudleysharp said...

No. I have a copy which I can email to you.

Here is what it says:

". . . Willingham has failed to carry his burden of demonstrating that the facts alleged in the (Gerald Hurst) affidavit, if proven and viewed in the light of the evidence as a whole, would be sufficient to establish by clear and convincing evidence that, but for constitutional error, no reasonable fact finder would have found him guilty of the underlying offense. In addition to the Fire Marshal’s report clearly indicating that the fire was intentionally set, Willingham confessed his crime to another inmate furthermore, the State presented evidence that Willingham made no attempt to try to get back into the house to save his children before the fire had spread too extensively, and that he did not seem upset by the loss of his children and was more concerned about finding his dart board in the ruins of his house. Medical personnel testified that Willingham did not have injuries consistent with his description of the events on the day of the fire."

"(Gerald Hurst’s) opinion is, of course, no more than an opinion and does not constitute a prima facie showing that no crime was in fact committed. (Gerald Hurst’s) opinion does not address Willingham’s confession or the additional circumstantial evidence that we have noted, upon which the jury’s verdict of guilt rested."


US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, Opinion, re Cameron Todd Willingham, no. 04 10179, 2/17/2004

Anonymous said...

Dudley,
I saw that in your original post. It does not appear to be the full text. Do you have a scanned copy of the full opinion?

I can't find it by that docket number or date on their website.

dudleysharp said...

Ok, I have a scanned copy, how do I transfer that to this site?

Anonymous said...

Reporters lied.

Stacy Kuykendall's statement about the 1991 fire:

"On October 18th I read that David Grann said that the Chicago Tribune reporters, Steve Mills and Maurice Possley, tracked me down and interviewed me about my ex-husband and if he in fact confessed to me. He wrote that I firmly said that Willingham had never done so. I have never been formally interviewed by any reporters. Mills, Possley and Grann have all come to my home uninvited to ask me questions about my ex-husband. I told them all that I no longer believe that Todd was innocent, that he did murder my daughters and I did not want to talk about that which had to deal with him. I was asked why I didn’t believe that he was innocent and my response was, after reading statements, mainly Todd’s, that first of all, he gave conflicting stories of what happened the day of the fire and secondly after visiting with him on death row that he was guilty. I was asked what was said the day I visited with my ex-husband. I told them that I believed that was personal and would not respond to the question. I asked them repeatedly to leave my property."

http://www.star-telegram.com/news/story/1709042-p3.html

Anonymous said...

"He asked me if I remembered the last time we had gotten into a fight and he hit me. I told him yes when I was holding Amber. He asked if I remembered what I had told him that I was going to do after the first of the year. I said that I was going to divorce you. He said the night before the fire we got in to an argument and you had said it again that you were going to divorce me. I told him yes I did say that. He told me that he believed I was going to but he couldn't let that happen. Todd told me that it was stupid but it was like an obsession. He said if I didn't have my girls I couldn't leave him and that I could never have Amber or the twins with anyone else but him. He told me he was sorry and that he hoped that I could forgive him one day. He said once again I have no right to ask you for a life sentence but Stacy no one wants to die. He said he had a lot of people fighting for him and that he would die saying that he was innocent. I looked at Todd and I told him that you are right no one wants to die and neither did my three daughters. I stood up walked out and I never looked back.

I did witness Cameron Todd Willingham's execution. Todd set our house on fire then stood outside and watched it burn. He knew our three daughters were inside this home taking there last breath. He watched them die. I felt like the only thing that I could do is watch their murderer die. I wasn't there for closure. My closure was when he told me what he had done. I stood on the behalf of my three daughters. Todd's final words never mentioned his daughters but yet I keep hearing what a loving father he was. Todd spent his last words expressing his love to his prison pen pal Gabby and then he addressed me. He told me repeatedly in obscenity-laced language that he hoped I would "rot in hell" and attempted to maneuver his hand, strapped at the wrist, into an obscene gesture."

"For all of this to be brought up again has been extremely painful for me and my family. How many more times do we have to see in detail that burned house were my daughter died! I have carried this pain for 18 years now and will for the rest of my life. I can say that I am a very strong women but having to listen to this every day again is starting to take its toll on me. I pray daily for my babies to have some peace and my family to stop being harassed.

Governor Rick Perry called Cameron Todd Willingham a "monster" and indeed he was. Nightline ran story titled "A Life Cut Too Short." There were three life's cut too short and their names are Amber Louise, Karmon Diane and Kameron Marie."

http://www.star-telegram.com/news/story/1709042-p3.html

halides1 said...

DudleySharp,

The New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/20/us/20texas.html?_r=2) and Steve Mills of the Chicago Tribune (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-tc-nw-willingham-1018-1019oct19,0,286290.story) both mentioned that courts had reviewed Willingham’s case just before execution. However, I can find no mention of the SCOTUS, and I see mention of two courts and the state’s parole board.

However, I have a problem with the Governor’s response. If he is just going to parrot what the courts say, then what is the point of giving the governor the power to grant a stay of execution, for example? I would think that it would act as a fail-safe against judicial error.

Chris

Boyness said...

It doesnt matter whether the Texas Governor can stay an execution or not when you elect people like Rick Perry.

Anonymous said...

Dudley: can you post a link to that 5th circuit opinion? I can't find it on WestLaw...shows that docket as Palacios v US. 5th Circuit's webpage shows no opinion pub/unpub for Willingham on 2/17/04

dudleysharp said...

Anon 11/30:

all I have is a photocopy of the decision, dated and stamped 2/17/04 time 3:47 pm,
case number 04-10179. next to the page number is No. 6933,
stamped by Charles R. Fulbruge CLERK

in re: Cameron Todd Willingham

I have pages 2-5. It is the entire decision, so I suspect page 1 is a fax or court cover page.

If you don't mind loosing your anonymity, send me an email at sharpjfa@aol.com and I will return the attached document

Anonymous said...

Got it. Thanks.