Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Linda Carty

I have just watched a doco on chanel 4 about Linda Carty who is on death row in Texas, for those of you who didnt see the show here are some of the points brought up. 
Linda was condemned to death after a “catastrophically flawed” trial for the murder of her neighbour. She has always proclaimed her innocence and would certainly not be on death row today if she had been assigned adequate defence counsel at trial.
Her court-appointed lawyer, Jerry Guerinot, has sent more prisoners to death row than any other lawyer in the United States, yet his failings only became fully apparent after the American law firm Baker Botts, assisted by Reprieve, took on Linda’s case pro bono. It emerged that:
  • Guerinot had only spent 15 minutes with Linda before her capital trial.
  • He had falsely told the courts that Linda refused to meet with him until he bribed her with a chocolate bar. In fact, she is fatally allergic to chocolate.
  • He failed to spot obvious inconsistencies in the prosecution's case.
  • He failed to interview key witnesses.
  • He did not present evidence on her behalf or even investigate Linda’s case in any depth.
Neither, crucially, did he inform the British government of Linda’s case until it was too late. As a result the British government could not intervene on Linda’s behalf in a timely and effective manner.
Clive Stafford Smith said:“If the British government had been involved, at the very least Jerry Guerinot wouldn’t have tried the case and Linda would not be where she is today. That was the difference between life and death”.
The British government has made great efforts to save Linda Carty’s life. It has filed a “friend of the court” briefing to the US Supreme Court contending that she deserved a retrial because of the failings of her court-appointed lawyer. The Supreme Court has ignored these pleas and Linda’s conviction and sentence have been upheld.
The odds were always stacked against Linda. It is extremely difficult to get new evidence admitted in US capital appeals, even if that evidence demonstrates the defendant's innocence. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia notoriously stated in August 2009:

"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."

I am opposed to capital punishment anyway but this particular case wouldn't be a mistake made by a jury of "12 good men and true" but itself murder. Read more on the case or watch the documentary and join me in signing the petition at http://www.marchforlindacarty.org.uk/#/petition/4558002483

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