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His name was Carlos. What more do you need?

Someone named Carlos murdered Wanda Lopez in Texas. Carlos Hernandez. Someone named Carlos was arrested near the scene of the crime. Carlos DeLuna. Good enough! So after a hasty trial with a cheap and incompetent defense lawyer, Texas executed Carlos DeLuna.

Hernandez had a mustache and was wearing a grey flannel shirt, DeLuna was clean-shaven and wearing a white dress shirt. Hernandez was later arrested for another murder, and confessed to killing Wanda Lopez.

Didn’t matter. Texas had a Carlos.

There can’t be that many Hispanic men named Carlos, right? Just round ‘em all up.

Once we’ve cleaned them out, we can start on the Juans.

Man, it’s like Texas took all the flaws of America and blew them up to ten times the size of anyplace else, and is proud of them.

Comments

  1. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    But occasionally, the government murders the right guy, so that makes some collateral damage totally worth it.
    /sarcasm

    That abomination you (Americans) call a justice system should be renamed into revenge system. It comes back to an eye for an eye, except that it’s pretty much irrelevant whose eye it is just as long as someone loses it.

  2. capnxtreme says

    Man, it’s like Texas took all the flaws of America and blew them up to ten times the size

    I’ve heard it said that everything is bigger in Texas. Even their flag, it’s like the large-print version of the United States flag.

  3. Moggie says

    The Guardian held a Reddit chat about this story, and a few brief highlights are here. Here’s one I want to pick out, in response to a question asking whether the death penalty is an effective deterrent:

    Liebman: I recently wrote an article explaining why the death penalty in the US does not deter crime. It turns out that the scattered jurisdictions that use the death penalty (only a minority of jurisdictions in the US – counties – really do use it), use it as a substitute for effective, professional law enforcement. So, they tend to have very poor arrest rates, and high crime rates. Asking the death penalty to do the work of solid police investigation, crime prevention, etc. is not an effective way to deter crime. The study that i recently published — Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law — finds that the death penalty is largely confined to strongly libertarian communities in the US. They don’t trust goverment, so they don’t trust usual law enforcement activities (eg, professional police forces, substantial spending on anti-crime activities, etc). But they live in fear because of the crime this allows to occur, which then leads them to adopt the death penalty as reaction. It is ironic, of course, because taking life is the harshest act the state can take.

  4. Steve LaBonne says

    The death penalty enthusiasts used to tell us that no innocent person had ever been executed and we couldn’t prove the contrary. Well, now that it’s definitely established that there have multiple wrongful executions, do they all fall back on the Scalia “too bad, so sad” standard?

    It’s way, way past time to end the barbarism of capital punishment.

  5. Louis says

    Was he running? I ask because we here in Britain have occasionally shot people for Being A Bit Foreign Whilst Running.

    I mean if he was running then it’s all good. Unless he was standing still and looking shifty and a bit foreign. Then that is fine too. Of course if he was a she, looking a bit shifty and foreign, then it would be okay to rape her first.

    I mean, come ON America, get with the programme. If you’re going to kill people for Being A Bit Foreign at least have the decency to do it in a crowded tube station.

    Louis

  6. joed says

    Texas is a mess. a hate-filled racist mess.
    But there are pockets of sanity and reason.
    Texas get the honor of selecting most of the text books for public schools throughout
    the u s.

  7. Marcus Hill (mysterious and nefarious) says

    Yeah, but at least they haven’t killed a Real American. The guy was clearly an illegal immigrant, just like all hispanic people.

  8. dianne says

    fuck Texas.

    I’d rather not, thank you. You never know where it’s been.

  9. Steve LaBonne says

    Yeah, but at least they haven’t killed a Real American.

    [cough]Cameron Todd Willingham[cough]

  10. Anri says

    I don’t see the problem.

    My name’s not Carlos, you see, so it’s all good.

    (This post may contain sarcasm).

  11. congaboy says

    In Texas, it’s better to execute 100 innocent people than to let one guilty go free.

  12. Marcus Hill (mysterious and nefarious) says

    Also, this was 1989, which is practically prehistory. This sort of thing could clearly never happen today.

  13. nyarlathotep says

    I’m glad to see that someone has already brought up Cameron Todd Willingham. Thus far our (“our” being Texans, obviously) has blocked further investigation into that case. Hopefully this will put a measure of public pressure on the higher ups to allow it. Of course, knowing Perry it will just drive him to continue his current course of action.

  14. Marcus Hill (mysterious and nefarious) says

    Perry would probably echo Arnaud Almaric’s sentiment – “Kill them all, the Lord will know his own”.

  15. Jeffrey G Johnson says

    In 2006 they even put Jesus to death: Jesus Ledesma Aguilar. As far as I know he’s still dead.

  16. Blondin says

    “I got me a motive which is money and a body which is dead! Now, what more do I need?”
    – Police Chief Bill Gillespie, In the Heat of the Night

  17. Alverant says

    #5 No we’re going to hear the “tech has improved” and “it can’t happen today, we’ve gotten better” arguement as if we’ve passed some limit that prevents innocent people from being executed by the state. And let’s ignore the fact that this is just one case, there are other people who have been executed whos guilt is in doubt.

  18. citizenjoe says

    Wow. Who was Governor of Texas then? And who was the Attorney General, who surely would have made sure the Governor was informed, and would prevent this miscarriage of justice?

    If only there were a machine for looking up such things.

    Or, perhaps, some sort of public memory. And a mechanism for preventing such people from being elected.

  19. Marcus Hill (mysterious and nefarious) says

    Alverant: like I said, 1989 is prehistory. It’s practically 10% of the entire age of your nation.

  20. Marcus Hill (mysterious and nefarious) says

    I just realised I made an unwarranted assumption that Alverant is American. I’m sorry (about my error if it was such, just sorry for you if I was right).

  21. puppygod says

    In Texas, it’s better to execute 100 innocent people than to let one guilty go free.

    Actually, we have strong evidence to the contrary. While Texas have no problem with executing 100 innocents, it seems to let way more than one guilty go free.

  22. dianne says

    While Texas have no problem with executing 100 innocents, it seems to let way more than one guilty go free.

    Indeed, every innocent executed is also a guilty person who has gone free: the person who actually committed the crime the person was convicted of is still at large. Well, except in cases like Willingham’s where the only actual crime was to live in a house with sub-code electrical wiring and have the bad luck to have it ignite.

  23. What a Maroon, Applied Linguist of Slight Foreboding says

    Hey, what are all you liberal commie bleeding hearts Muslim atheists complaining about? A crime was committed, a man was caught and punished for it. So what if he was the wrong guy? Justice was done (and anyway, he was probably guilty of something).

    Besides, they’re all dead now anyway, so what’s the difference?

  24. Steve LaBonne says

    Well, except in cases like Willingham’s where the only actual crime was to live in a house with sub-code electrical wiring and have the bad luck to have it ignite.

    Oh, there are other crimes in that case (just not ones committed by the late Mr. Willingham): the completely bogus “expert” testimony and the subsequent and ongoing coverup.

  25. says

    Naked Bunny:

    Waiting for someone to mention how it’s a shame because Texas is so pretty.

    I’ve been waiting for the obligatory “Not all Texans are bad people!” whine.

    Oh and fuck Texas. (Sorry, dianne. I know it’s icky, but it has to be said.)

  26. dianne says

    @30: Good point. I was only thinking about the crimes that led to the death of Willingham’s children, not the crimes that led to his death. Both are uncorrected and both will, inevitably, lead to more deaths.

  27. dianne says

    I’ve been waiting for the obligatory “Not all Texans are bad people!” whine.

    Shrug. Not all Texans are bad people. But they are definitely collectively making bad decisions: The decision to keep electing/hiring and retaining judges and law enforcement officials who have no interest in or ability to actually solve crimes and put dangerous people in prison while keeping the innocent free and off death row. The decision to not have a state income tax, meaning that every state agency is underfunded, including essentially all law enforcement organizations in the state. The decision to make no effort to limit people’s access to guns. And so on. I’m an ex-Texan myself. Left at 18.

  28. says

    Texas is also the state that had the infamous Randall Adams case (as detailed in Errol Morris’ documentary The Thin Blue Line). Even the Klan played a part in that derailment of justice. At least Adams didn’t die, but Morris’ film gets to the heart of the matter: the real killer was 16 and unable to be given the death penalty, whereas Adams was an adult, thus an effective scapegoat!

    Texas has plenty of cases like this. What a hell-hole is Texas! For all their executions, it has not stemmed the tide of hideous crimes that continue to take place there.

  29. says

    When I lived in Texas, I had a co-worker who believed that people who are arrested for murder are clearly guilty because why else would they have been arrested?

  30. dianne says

    When I lived in Texas, I had a co-worker who believed that people who are arrested for murder are clearly guilty because why else would they have been arrested?

    The schools in Texas are badly underfunded and tend to teach what they need to make the state look good on standardized tests rather than, say, logic or independent thought. As you can tell from statements like the one your co-worker made.

  31. What a Maroon, Applied Linguist of Slight Foreboding says

    When I lived in Texas, I had a co-worker who believed that people who are arrested for murder are clearly guilty because why else would they have been arrested?

    Did he grow up to be Attorney General of the US?

  32. ebotebo says

    Fuck Scalia with a pineapple, the smug reprobate son-of-a-bitching asshole!!! And Texas! Fuck Texas, all of Texas, with their medieval fuckin’ laws, fuck the governor of texas with his own toilet of religious insanity!!!! I could go on and on…….

  33. Rawnaeris says

    There are parts of Texas that are beautiful. There are bastions of sanity. Unfortunately all the nutters have moved in and have joined with our ntural nutters and they are louder than the sane folk. One more year and I get to move out.

  34. otrame says

    Well, some Texans will always be willing to kill a Carlos or a Juan. You see, they don’t like being reminded that it was people named Carlos and Juan that allowed their Anglo ancestors to be immigrants more than a century after some of the ancestors of the Carloses and Juans moved in. It’s especially embarrassing because some of the ancestors of the Carloses and Juans failed to prevent the illegal immigration of the other ancestors of the Carloses and Juans.

    Things like that can be kinda confusing.

    ———
    Seriously, though, while I am one who usually jumps in to remind everyone that bad things happen elsewhere, too, and Texas is a big place with a big population, so naturally bad things happen more often in Texas. But on the death penalty issue there is no such excuse. About this, Texas is a disgrace. I hate having to say that because I love Texas. Texans should be deeply ashamed about this stuff. I am. Far too many of us are not.

  35. Phledge says

    You know how every time someone–guilty or innocent–is executed for murder, the murder victim comes back to life?

    Wait, that’s not how it works?

  36. Marcus Hill (mysterious and nefarious) says

    Phledge: I think you need to put the corpse in a cave and roll a big rock across the door so its later movement can be seen as some sort of miracle.

  37. David Marjanović says

    But Justice Scalia says, executing innocent people is just fine.

    Nonono:

    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.

    The scare quotes are his.

    Scalia either believes that courts never make mistakes the first time, so once you’re convicted, you really are guilty; or he’s a bullshitter who doesn’t fucking care if anyone is guilty and only cares whether they’ve been convicted.

    I can’t express how hulky and smashy this all makes me, so I won’t.

    Finally, it’s easily possible that the big-C Constitution is, in fact, worded too stupidly to even address this issue. Codes of law or similar issues (like biological nomenclature) routinely leave unsaid what should be obvious but sometimes isn’t.

    the Scalia “too bad, so sad” standard

    Thread won.

  38. says

    Was he running? I ask because we here in Britain have occasionally shot people for Being A Bit Foreign Whilst Running.

    He did run from police. Because he was on parole and had been drinking (IIRC). Apparently that’s a capital offense in TX.

  39. Desert Son, OM says

    According to Liebman, Fagan, West, and Lloyd (2000):

    The most common errors found at the state post-conviction stage (where our data are most complete) are (1) egregiously incompetent defense lawyering (accounting for 37% of the state post-conviction reversals), and (2) prosecutorial suppression of evidence that the defendant is innocent or does not deserve the death penalty (accounting for another 16%–or 19%, when all forms of law enforcement misconduct are considered). (p. 1850)

    Note, Liebman et al.’s study examined all states with death penalty practice, not just Texas. More statistics from their findings:

    Among the twenty-six death-sentencing jurisdictions in which at least one case has been reviewed in both the state and federal courts and in which information about all three judicial inspection stages is available:
    1. 24 (92%) have overall error rates of 52% or higher;
    2. 22 (85%) have overall errors rates of 60% or higher;
    3. 15 (61%) have overall error rates of 70% or higher.
    4. Among other states, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Indiana, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Montana, Arizona, and California have overall error rates of 75% or higher. (Liebman et al., 2000, p. 1853)

    And then there’s the following, which is kind of the central to the article:

    The 68% rate of capital error found by the three stage inspection process is much higher than the < 15% rate of error those same three inspections evidently discover in noncapital criminal cases. (Liebman et al., 2000, p. 1854)

    So, the error rate in capital criminal cases is more than four times that of the error rate in non-captial criminal cases. As Liebman et al. (2000) note in their conclusion:

    If the issue was the fabrication of toasters . . . or the licensing of automobile drivers, or the conduct of any other private- or public-sector activity, neither the consuming public nor managers and investors would tolerate the error rates and attendant costs that dozens of states and the nation as a whole have tolerated in their capital punishment systems over the course of decades. Any system with this much error and expense would be halted immediately, examined, and either reformed or scrapped. We ask taxpayers, public managers, and policymakers whether that same response is warranted here, when the issue is not the content and quality of tomorrow’s breakfast but whether society has a swift and sure response to murder and whether thousands of men and women condemned for that crime in fact deserve to die. (Liebman et al., 2000, p. 1865)

    Bold emphasis mine. It’s not a procedure of justice, it’s just the state killing.

    Killing in the name . . . there’s a song about that.

    Still learning,

    Robert

    ________________
    Reference:
    Liebman, J. S., Fagan, J., West, V., & Lloyd, J. (2000). Capital attrition: Error rates in capital cases, 1973-1995. Texas Law Review, 78(7), 1839-1865.

  40. David Marjanović says

    Wrongful killing of an innocent man. No self defense. Premeditated.

    Texas, please have yourself executed.

    Good idea: judges who wrongly sentence someone to death should be charged with murder.

  41. dianne says

    @46: Yesterday afternoon I was at a meeting where we discussed our unacceptably high error rate for a particular procedure. The error rate was 1 in 10,000. This is unacceptably high because this particular error can fucking kill someone. Various solutions, some of them cumbersome, are in process. Copious amounts of time and money are being spent because no one wants that 1 person to die unnecessarily. And law enforcement people can’t be bothered to correct a 70% error rate to avoid killing people? That’s beyond contemptible.

  42. megs226 says

    When I first read about this, I was shocked. I actually gasped and put my hand over my mouth. Then I said, “oh wait, I’m totally not surprised”.

    Then I got sad that I wasn’t surprised.

  43. Desert Son, OM says

    citizenjoe at #22:

    Who was Governor of Texas then?

    That would be Bill Clements, Republican, twice Governor of Texas. Under Clements terms as Governor the first ever execution by lethal injection in the United States occurred: Charles Brooks, Jr.

    I’m sure you’ll be just as surprised as the rest of the world to learn that there were doubts about Brooks’ culpability in the case for which he was executed, with even the prosecutor in the case asking for the death penalty to be commuted.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  44. TX_secular says

    Why is it that many of the folks posting so far on this thread are all too happy to post hateful generalizations about all Texans? If you are going to pride yourselves on rationality then you need to be rational. Of course Texas has it fair share of bigots, so does the rest of the country. The criminal justice abuses being discussed are unacceptable, and the death penalty needs to go. How does vilifying Texans inspire locals to fix the justice system, which is clearly broken? Bigotry, stereotyping, ignorance and treating others as despised out-group members are the real problems (in Texas and elsewhere). Implying that everyone in Texas is a right-wing nut job does not help the cause of rationality, or help fix any real problems. I’m curious, are we all supposed to move to some other state?

  45. Alverant says

    #24 You were right. I am a citizen of the USA. We’re not perfect (though some of us think we are and call us unpatriotic if we disagree) and some of us are trying to make it better.

    The problem with our justice system is that it’s an adversiarial system which is focused on winning. The defense can do just about anything to free their client and the prosecution is measured by how many cases they’ve won. We need to shift the focus of the prosecution from winning to proving who is guilty and eliminate any kind of penality (perceived or actual) where they are handed a case where the defendent did not do the crime. They should be able to say, “We know you didn’t do it. You’re free to go. We’re sorry.” without getting dragged over the coals by the public.

  46. says

    Why is it that many of the folks posting so far on this thread are all too happy to post hateful generalizations about all Texans? If you are going to pride yourselves on rationality then you need to be rational. Of course Texas has it fair share of bigots, so does the rest of the country. The criminal justice abuses being discussed are unacceptable, and the death penalty needs to go. How does vilifying Texans inspire locals to fix the justice system, which is clearly broken? Bigotry, stereotyping, ignorance and treating others as despised out-group members are the real problems (in Texas and elsewhere). Implying that everyone in Texas is a right-wing nut job does not help the cause of rationality, or help fix any real problems. I’m curious, are we all supposed to move to some other state?

    Ah there we go!

    HEY SOME BROWN PERSON WAS MURDERED BUT BUT BUT YOU HURT MY FEELINGS BY INSULTING MY STATE IDENTITY !!!!!

    WAAAAAAAAAAAH WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH

  47. Richard Smith says

    @Jeffrey G Johnson (#18):

    In 2006 they even put Jesus to death: Jesus Ledesma Aguilar. As far as I know he’s still dead.

    Ah, but more importantly, is Generalissimo Francisco Franco still dead?

  48. Scientismist says

    ..the Scalia “too bad, so sad” standard

    Not even “so sad.” After all, the executed innocent person is just being returned to his Heavenly Father.. So all is good.

    No, really — Scalia says that. Google his essay “God’s Justice and Ours.” He also says that’s why we need God in the pledge and on the money, to remind us that Government kills people with the authority of God, so we shouldn’t complain.

    Are you sure a pineapple is rough enough?

  49. says

    Quelle surprise. The most bible thumping of states is very poor at evaluating evidence? Or into killing members of out groups? This is exactly what religion is supposed to instill.

  50. Brownian says

    A scene from CBS’ new hit crime drama, CSI: El Paso:

    Three young Crime Scene Investigators are examining a body. Their supervisor, played by Billy Bob Thornton, approaches.

    BBT
    “Well? What’s the verdict? She dead or what?”

    CSI 1
    “She’s dead sir. We’ll need to get her back to the lab, but the wounds look consistent with the other victims of The Nightingale, the notorious female serial killer who just escaped from the County Sheriff’s Office jail last night.”

    A police deputy, holding a handcuffed young, Asian male suspect, calls them over.

    DEPUTY
    “Caught this feller crossin’ the border into the US just a few minutes ago. Says he’s an American citizen, but his passport and ID are in his wallet, and [looks at the sun] it’s too hot to go digging around in there.”

    BBT
    “Looks like we found our killer.”

    SUSPECT
    “What? I just got here. I’m an accountant here in town. My wife’s family lives in Ciudad Juárez, and I was ju—”

    BBT
    “I’ll do the talkin’, Mr. Juárez. Why’d ya kill this woman?”

    SUSPECT
    “I—I didn’t! You have to believe me!”

    BBT [To the Deputy]
    “Take him to lockup and find a Spanish translator. I want a confession by this afternoon.”

    Deputy puts the suspect in a cruiser and drives off.

    CSI 2 [To BBT]
    “Sir, all the evidence is consistent with The Nightingale being the killer. We found this signed confession attached to a video camera found near the body. The tape in the camera clearly shows The Nightingale killing the woman. There’s even a credit card receipt for the camera, bought with The Nightingale’s VISA card. And the confession has been notarized.”

    BBT
    “So where is this so-called Nightingale?”

    CSI 3
    “As we said earlier, she escaped from jail last night, so we don’t know. But that man is not the killer. We have evidenc—”

    BBT
    “What you have is a theory, like evolution, or global warming; something scientists make up, instead of goin’ ta church. I got a suspect, and unless you can find this ‘Nightingale’—[leans back to make way for woman wearing prison jumpsuit who is bicycling through the crime scene while whistling like a bird. The woman's jumpsuit has "The Nightingale" stenciled across the back.]—that killer, Mr. Juárez, is goin’ down for this.

    Now, I’m goin’ home. My—[puts on sunglasses]—mashed pertaters are gettin’ cold.”

    “Who Are You” by The Who, starts playing, with slightly different lyrics:
    “Who-o-o-o-o-o are you? Don’t care! Don’t care!”

  51. says

    @58 – Texas is BY FAR the executions leader of the US. That’s not a generalization, that is a fact. This is not the first, or second, or even third researched execution that found an innocent man was executed in Texas.

    If by “generalization” you mean “describing what actually happens in Texas” then I think the reason we are so happy to do so is because it is accurate and germane to the topic at hand.

  52. Aquaria says

    I am not surprised. At all.

    My former roommate was dragged into jail just a few years ago. For allegedly robbing a liquor store at gunpoint. He, a 6’3 300lb Hispanic with a shaved head, had the gall to walk quickly from the scene of a crime while carrying a backpack to his community college. How dare an art major with painting classes have art brushes sticking out of his backpack! How dare he ride a bus that was late and he had to get to his class quickly! And how dare he look so much like a 5’8″, 140 lb black man with dreadlocks!

    Fortunately, the arraigning judge actually read the description in the warrant, and wasn’t buying that they had the right guy. If he hadn’t done that, my roomie easily could have gone to jail that day–and for a long time after that. It’s Texas, after all.

  53. Brother Ogvorbis: Advanced Accolyte of Tpyos says

    Implying that everyone in Texas is a right-wing nut job does not help the cause of rationality, or help fix any real problems.

    And if you read the comments, noticeably #33, you would note that, although there have been numerous jokes at the expense of Texas, we have intentionally avoided stating that all Texans are [fill in the blank].

    Your whine is noted, though.

    I routinely make fun of, and am angry with, the state of Pennsylvania. That does not mean that I think all of my fellow Pennsylvanianians are right-wing shitfuckers.

  54. says

    Hey, hey. Just about 50 comments before a whiny Texan showed up. That took longer than I thought.

    How does vilifying Texans inspire locals to fix the justice system, which is clearly broken?

    Well, here’s a start: maybe mocking your entire stupid state will convince you to stop electing blood-thirsty jackasses. Last I checked, Texas wasn’t a dictatorship.

    And before your precious widdle feefees get hurt again, I’d be saying the same exact shit about New York if we were in the habit of executing innocent people or people who were not mentally capable to stand trial. Fact of the matter is, we abolished the death penalty years* ago.

    *Full disclosure: Ever since 9/11, there have been suggestions that we reinstate the death penalty for “cop killers”**, but every time it’s brought up, the topic fizzles out.

    **We’ve developed a little bit of a cop fetish since then.

  55. anuran says

    The hideous gibbering Things known as the Gods of Texas require frequent blood sacrifice

  56. Desert Son, OM says

    dianne at #50,

    And law enforcement people can’t be bothered to correct a 70% error rate to avoid killing people? That’s beyond contemptible.

    Yep. I’d argue, as others in the thread have mentioned, that not only is it contemptible, it’s also criminal.

    Even as a procedure of revenge (there’s no evidence to suggest the death penalty is a procedure of justice), it’s a failure, because because even as revenge it’s not the families of victims that are getting revenge (never mind the whole morally dubious nature of revenge), it’s the state. So the state is just killing because, well, it’s the state.

    And then Texas goes out and gets revenge on . . . not the guilty party. Frequently. The whole thing is profoundly, dramatically flawed.

    otrame makes an important point at #41: so much of Texas’ history is bound up in a complicated, intricate, and inextricable way with the broader history of the region, including long-standing (and very often antagonistic) relationships with nations like Spain, Mexico, France, Comanche, Karankawa, Lipan, Mescalero, and the United States. It’s another reason why legal reform in Texas will always necessitate close examination of, and reform of, things like immigration, economy, and education. The state is obsessed with closing (and/or hunting) its borders against the very socio-cultural descendents of the groups that invited the ancestors of the border-closer-hunters in the first place.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  57. coragyps says

    “It’s a shame, as Texas is so pretty.”

    You ain’t ever been out in this part, huh?

    And besides, “pretty is as pretty does.” Killing innocent people or giving them sixty years in the pen for possession of a joint while in the pen ain’t pretty!

    And yes, he had a Spanish surname, too.

  58. laurentweppe says

    So, the state of Texas says that it’s ok to kill someone if this person is a murderer.
    Also, the state of Texas cannot be bothered to try to distinguish between a guy named Carlos and another guy Carlos when it wanted to kill a Carlos.
    *
    So, according to Texas logic, since the judge who fucked the trial of an innocent man is named Wallace, putting a gun on Wallace Ferguson’s head and pulling the trigger would be a good, responsible, moral deed. I mean, who cares if he a one year old toddler who never hurt anyone? He a texan named Wallace, and another Texan name Wallace murdered an innocent man, therefore, Texas’ logic demands that someone blows the toddler’s brains out, right? right? riiiiiiiiiiiiight?

  59. Aquaria says

    Why is it that many of the folks posting so far on this thread are all too happy to post hateful generalizations about all Texans?

    I’ve been a resident of Texas for 40+ of my 50 years. I grew up here, in East Texas. I have lived in Dallas, the Valley, and San Antonio. I have family in every part of the state, from the Hill Country to the Panhandle, to West Texas, to Houston to Beaumont. So I’ve been all over it, and dealt with more of its citizens than you could dream possible.

    That’s why I know it deserve the scorn it gets from intelligent, civilized people. In fact, what Texas gets in that department isn’t nearly enough. That’s why I don’t shrink from the absolute fact that the vast majority of Texans are bloodthirsty morons. When you have 100,000 of those turds for every person with humanity and a brain, that’s not something to defend, dipshit.

    Why are you getting upset about people trashing a slime pit like Texas, anyway? Your identity isn’t determined by an arbitrary piece of land. To think that it is is as stupid as it is irrational.

    Quit whining, and accept that Texas has the reputation it does because it has worked its ass off to earn it. Only by facing that reality can you realize how bad things are here. Maybe if enough Texans could experience something called shame, they’d stop being such fucking morons and bloodthirsty maniacs and do something to join the human race. Like not accepting the execution of innocent people. Most civilized people think that’s a bad thing, but Texans must not, to revel in having so many people murdered by the state in their name.

  60. sundiver says

    Well, I’ve always heard that the only reason Texas hasn’t slid into the Gulf of Mexico is because Oklahoma sucks. All seriousness aside, I know some cheeseheads that think this shit is okay. So this kind of primitive attitude isn’t restricted to Texas. A friend of mine, a proponent of capital punishment, seems to refuse to believe that people have been executed only on the basis of eyewitness testimony . I’ve pointed to this case (most recently) and the cases that Harry Connick, Sr has prosecuted in New Orleans in which he withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense. Unfortunately, it’s been like arguing with a brick wall (or a creationist). And it’s not like she’s some raving fundie or even particularly right-wing. There are times I think USAians are just a bit barbaric.

  61. Desert Son, OM says

    TX_secular at #53:

    Greetings from a fellow Texan. I was born and raised here, moved away for about 15 years, and am now back for graduate school (which I’ve come to hate, but that’s a different story).

    I chose the handle Desert Son specifically because I was born and raised in this geographical region and I find it fascinating, beautiful, and complicated.

    So, as a fellow Texan, I would like to point out that Texas has done more than enough to earn the ire of the world’s citizens. I used to be like you. I used to wonder why people got up in Texas’ face when other places had problems, too, and when there were still some good things about Texas.

    It’s time for Texas to stop wondering why the world gets up in Texas’ face, and start wondering if maybe the world keeps getting up in Texas’ face for legitimate fucking reasons.

    How does vilifying Texans inspire locals to fix the justice system, which is clearly broken?

    If legitimate criticism of Texas is going to cause Texans to resist social justice and legal reform, then those are some pretty pathetic Texans. Texas isn’t sacrosanct, no matter how much it continues to insist to the world – and especially to its own residents – that it is. It’s reasonable to criticize problems. Reasonable Texans can see the criticism for what it is, and can work with critics to address problems in Texas. Texans that are going to take their voting ball home because they get called for fouling on the socio-political basketball court don’t sound like allies in the fight to make Texas a better place to me. Do they sound like allies to you?

    Still learning,

    Robert

  62. fastlane says

    puppygod @ 25, it seems most of the actual criminals in TX wind up serving in government….

  63. badgersdaughter says

    I live in Houston. My honor and sense of duty compel me, as long as I live here (which I hope is no longer than necessary), to be an example of tolerance and coherent thinking to my friends, co-workers, and neighbors. For every time they express a stupid, ignorant thought based on prejudice, religion, or some other insanity, I hope I have an equivalent response in shock and/or ridicule. Feedback, folks. That’s what we can do here, if nothing else. Feedback. Don’t let them think their nonsense is OK.

  64. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Why is it that many of the folks posting so far on this thread are all too happy to post hateful generalizations about all Texans?

    Because that’s what’s important. Defending the “honor” of your arbitrarily land-based identity (h/t Aquaria).

    Guess what? You’re part of the reason Texas is such a hell-hole. You’re part of the problem. Clean up the trash in your own yard instead of whining when passersby remark on your unkempt property.

  65. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    How does vilifying Texans inspire locals to fix the justice system, which is clearly broken?

    I think the suggestion that Texans who might otherwise be motivated to stop murdering innocent people, might decide not to because we said unflattering things about their state, is by far the most hateful, bigoted comment in this entire thread.

  66. Brownian says

    It’s time for Texas to stop wondering why the world gets up in Texas’ face, and start wondering if maybe the world keeps getting up in Texas’ face for legitimate fucking reasons.

    As a native of Texas North (yes, we actually brag about sharing the worst of Texas’ traits), I heartily concur with this sentiment, and apply it to my own wannabe-state.

  67. shabadoo says

    How does vilifying Texans inspire locals to fix the justice system, which is clearly broken?

    The rest of us shouldn’t have to “inspire” you to do that. You should want to do it for yourselves.

  68. sundiver says

    Well, Aquaria, I hope my last post doesn’t have you thinking I’m excusing Texas from this kind of barbaric thinking, I’m not. I hate t it. In fact, I’ve been known to get a bit snarky when I meet someone who introduces her/himself as being from Texas by saying ” I’m sorry, that must suck “. Oddly enough, I haven’t been punched out. Yet. I wanted to point out that this kind of attitude is too goddamned prevalent amongst UASians in general. To steal a line from Arthur C Clarke, I consider USAians in general to be uncouth, technological barbarians. We’ve a bit growing up to in the US. Whether we can do it in time to avert a slide into stupidity is at least debatable. And thank you Aquaria, for some singularly sharp insults.

  69. sundiver says

    Brownian: As a transplanted Wisconsinite, lately I’ve reveled in refering to this place as an Arctic Alabama, what with the asshole governor here and racist cheeseturds I’ve encountered.

  70. Sili says

    Hey, what are all you liberal commie bleeding hearts Muslim atheists complaining about? A crime was committed, a man was caught and punished for it. So what if he was the wrong guy? Justice was done (and anyway, he was probably guilty of something).

    Besides, they’re all dead now anyway, so what’s the difference?

    Indeed, it’s positively Biblical: For God so loved the US that he gave his son, the not-so-only begotten, that whosoever cheers on his killing may have smugness ever after.

  71. says

    Aaaaand, as predicted, a petulant Texan comes in to whinge about how meeeaaaan people are being to Tex-ASS. Because, you know, the “good name” of Tex-ASS is more important than the murder of innocent people. And “bigotry” against white xtian Texans, whether practicing xtian or just culturally xtian, is totes equiv to racism and homophobia and misogyny.

    When your state stops being a willfully ignorant fundie hellhole, we’ll stop being mean to it. In the meantime shut the fuck up.

    Also, because I have trainwreck syndrome, I went looking for a news article out of Tex-ASS about this case. The comments demonstrate amply why we should continue picking on Tex-ASS.

    I really love this one in particular:

    Obama sometimes kills innocents in a Predator attack; should we outlaw Predator drones because the Predator-in-Chief’s missiles might cause collateral damage? Patients occasionally die because of a doctor’s misdiagnosis; should we outlaw medicine because of the occasional accidental death? Amnesty International thinks that because someone, somewhere was executed but might not have been guilty, that capital punishment should be abolished everywhere.

  72. says

    Sundiver, it seems to me that a lot of states which never used to have a national reputation for wingnuttery have been acquiring one in recent years. Obviously, the whole country has issues with race and police corruption, and the internet and 24-hour cable TV bring a lot of ugliness into national and even international focus. But I blame the right-wing noise machine, too, and in some cases redistricting by the GOP.

  73. David Marjanović says

    with even the prosecutor in the case asking for the death penalty to be commuted

    What I just said about being hulky and smashy.

    Not even “so sad.” After all, the executed innocent person is just being returned to his Heavenly Father.. So all is good.

    No, really — Scalia says that. Google his essay “God’s Justice and Ours.”

    Scalia’s very existence seems to be unconstitutional. WTF.

    Well, I’ve always heard that the only reason Texas hasn’t slid into the Gulf of Mexico is because Oklahoma sucks.

    Why does the wind go north-to-south in Oklahoma?

    Because Texas sucks and Kansas blows!

  74. sundiver says

    Daisy Cutter, the right-wing noise machine does bear some responsibilty but, there are other outlets. Like this one. What bothers me is that too many are hearing exactly what they want to hear from Faux Noise, Limbaugh, Mike Savage, Milwaukee’s pair of assholes Mark Belling and Charlie Sykes and all the rest. And they don’t want to hear anything that fucks up their smug self-righteousness. I’ve tried with the some folks around here and get told that I’m immoral because I’m an atheist. No attempt to actually rebut a point. I’m just an immoral atheist. Makes me want to move back to Northern AZ. AZ’s got plenty of assholes, true, but there’s a lot territory into which to escape ALL members of H. Sap. And BTW, thanks for not letting me get away with lazy insults in that post about G. Zimmerman

  75. quoderatdemonstrandum says

    Scalia either believes that courts never make mistakes the first time, so once you’re convicted, you really are guilty; or he’s a bullshitter who doesn’t fucking care if anyone is guilty and only cares whether they’ve been convicted.

    It’s worse. Scalia thinks that the Constitution is limited to the actual words on the page and nothing more (strict constructionist legal theory). He literally thinks that the Constitution does actually give you the right not to have British troops billeted in your house because it says so but that there is no such equally plainly worded sentence preventing the State from putting an actually innocent man to death therefore it is constitutionally perfectly legal.

    No a pineapple is not prickly enough to put up Scalia’s arse. Scalia needs a decaying porcupine, dipped pointy bits first in hot tar, then rolled in crushed glass and inserted up his arse, sideways, slowly, repeatedly.

  76. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    I lived in Illinois during the Ryan years.
    For those of you who don’t know about this/need a refresher, the Innocence Project (started in Chicago) uncovered evidence that lead to a series of commutations (some posthumous) of inmates on Illinois death row. George Ryan, the (Republican) governor at the time, got alarmed when someone pointed out to him that more inmates had been declared innocent than not. Yes – the proportion of death row inmates receiving commutations on grounds of innocence was in excess of 50%.
    So what did he do? He issued an immediate freeze on all executions in the state and appointed a panel to study the issue. The panel deliberated and uncovered all manner of disgusting shit. One thing their report said was that the error rate in Illinois was appalling (much higher than 50%), that race, class, national origin (etc) were having a disproportionate effect on conviction and sentencing, and so on.
    Ryan’s response was to issue commutations for every single inmate on death row. Most of the sentences were converted to life without parole, some got lesser sentences (life with parole for some, a certain number of years for others – many of these were then released for time served), some were declared flat-out innocent and let go with expunged records. Ryan said that even in cases where the evidence that the right person was on death row, the system was so messed up that he did not have confidence that the state had not voided its right to kill anyone, and the thought of signing an order for execution made him physically ill, given what he now knew about the system.

    My opinion is that Ryan did the right thing. But OMFFSM the hue and cry that George Ryan was a traitor to his office, that he should be impeached, that he was weak, that Ryan and the death penalty commission were destroying the confidence of Illinoisans in the criminal-justice system.

    Now, I don’t particularly care for Ryan other than this. He was a corrupt sleazeball who – rightfully – later served time for graft. But. He. Fucking. Did. The. Right. Thing. And Illinois, as a state, is better for it.

    Now, why can’t Texas do that?

  77. Steve LaBonne says

    86:

    It’s worse. Scalia thinks that the Constitution is limited to the actual words on the page and nothing more (strict constructionist legal theory).

    Of course, Bush v. Gore is more than sufficient to demonstrate that he’s lying out his ass when he claims to apply that principle. (There are of course many other such examples.)

  78. sundiver says

    quoderotdemonstrandum: If substitutions are allowed from your menu I’d like to use hydroflouric acid instead of hot tar and use an undecayed porcupine as it is a bit firmer and less apt to conform to space into which it is inserted. Either that or lock him into a room with Deepak Chopra and see if they mutually annihilate each other. Useful energy may be derived from such an experiment. And if not, they’re locked together in room, he, he, he.

  79. kevindorner says

    An another, historic, example, the reason that capital punishment has been abolished in Britain and Commonwealth countries is the Christie case.

    Similar to this one, the police, having pre-determined who the murderer was, bungled the investigation missing obvious and critical evidence. The result was that Timothy Evans went to the gallows in 1950 for the murder of his wife and daughter, convicted on the testimony of the real murderer John Christie, a serial murder of possibly eight people. Although the legal system was slow to acknowledge its wrongdoing (only admitting the full innocence of Evans and guilt of Christie in 2003) the public outcry led to a suspension of capital punishment and a full abolition in 1965.

    I highly recommend the film 10 Rillington Place which presents the events in excruciating accuracy, filmed at the location the murders took place and scripted from court transcripts. If only it could be made a mandatory viewing for any of the proponents of capital punishment. Used to be difficult to find this movie but it’s been recently picked up by NetFlix.

  80. sundiver says

    Esteleth, years ago a harp player I worked with had a saying. When anyone asked why someone did something idiotic he’d say, “You know why they did that? It’s because they’re STUPID!” So, when you ask ” Why can’t Texas do that? ” I’ll tell you. It’s because they’re STUPID! I know, it’s not nice. But neither is killing innocents. And I’ll FSMdamned if I’m going to be nice to assholes.

  81. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    The other thing I cannot get over WRT the Ryan situation is the number of people who describe him as “brave.”

    Brave? For refusing to preside over the killing of innocent people?

    Only in a supremely fucked up way is that brave.

  82. unclefrogy says

    when will these kinds of stories be rare. I watch a very good report on PBS Frontline just last month which help to keep me very unoptomistic about things generally the subject was CSI there was an other one last year about autopsies that was similarly encouraging here is a link to the recent one

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/real-csi/

    seems that these kinds of problems are not confined to Texas though like a lot of things Texas really excels at it!

    uncle frogy

  83. says

    Good idea: judges who wrongly sentence someone to death should be charged with murder.

    Prosecutors, too. Especially if (as has happened) they suppress evidence that might exonerate the victim.

    I use the word “victim” advisedly here. Someone was murdered by the state.

  84. says

    Either that or lock him into a room with Deepak Chopra and see if they mutually annihilate each other. Useful energy may be derived from such an experiment. And if not, they’re locked together in room, he, he, he.

    Chopra would like that. Because it’s KIND OF like the Schrodinger’s cat experiment and – QUANTUM!

  85. sundiver says

    Shit, Marcus. Hadn’t thought of that. Okay, lock an Objectivist in with Scalia and just ignore Deepcrap. After all, if he isn’t observed, the wave function doesn’t collapse and he just drifts in a superimposed state forever.

  86. nooneinparticular says

    “Good idea: judges who wrongly sentence someone to death should be charged with murder.”

    As horrific as this case is, this makes no sense whatsoever. Now a prosecutor who lies or withholds evidence or a defense attorney who is negligent, even the cops who (essentially) framed the victim, maybe charge them with murder. But the judge? Why not the jury then?

  87. Moggie says

    Esteleth:

    My opinion is that Ryan did the right thing. But OMFFSM the hue and cry that George Ryan was a traitor to his office, that he should be impeached, that he was weak, that Ryan and the death penalty commission were destroying the confidence of Illinoisans in the criminal-justice system.

    I’ve seen too much of this: people who behave as if, for them, the broken and arbitrary nature of the legal system is a positive feature. I don’t understand why they’re like this. Do they just get off on other people’s suffering, and relish the thought of an innocent person rotting away in jail or being executed? Or do they think that the “crime” of being poor and/or an ethnic minority is sufficient justification for harsh punishment?

  88. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    But the judge? Why not the jury then?

    Why not? The only way I can see to make the death penalty fair is to have the prosecuters, judge, and jury responsible for their verdict if an innocent person is excuted. That way, not only will the trials be fairer, but the level of the evidence can be used in determining the punishment, not just the verdict. All don’t need to be put to death. Just a token, say the head prescutor, and other prosecuters with death penalties outstanding need to watch. Maybe they won’t fight clemancy appeals to life without parole if their evidence might not stand up to hard scrutiny.

    And, of course, there should be periodic and thorough investigations by law students and teachers into every death penalty case, even after an execution. Ensuring no innocent person is executed by making it too expensive for prosecutors to make mistakes. When in doubt, life without parole.

  89. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    Moggie:

    Do they just get off on other people’s suffering, and relish the thought of an innocent person rotting away in jail or being executed? Or do they think that the “crime” of being poor and/or an ethnic minority is sufficient justification for harsh punishment?

    In a word, yes.

  90. nooneinparticular says

    “I’ve seen too much of this: people who behave as if, for them, the broken and arbitrary nature of the legal system is a positive feature. I don’t understand why they’re like this. Do they just get off on other people’s suffering, and relish the thought of an innocent person rotting away in jail or being executed? Or do they think that the “crime” of being poor and/or an ethnic minority is sufficient justification for harsh punishment?”

    I don’t understand it either. I makes little sense to me that one would complain that attempts to address a broken and unjust system are somehow bad.

    But I actually spoke with a friend, a former prosecutor now in private practice, about just this issue some months ago. She said the feeling is that the legal system relies on two key structural supports; the law and the perception of justice. The push back we see from prosecutors and others invested in the system stems, then, from the idea that undermining confidence in the legal system, for good reason or not, destroys the perception of justice, something so vital that the whole edifice could collapse.

    I don’t buy that and neither does my friend. Many times I think it’s nothing more than CYA by bad prosecutors. She was just explaining why some object to efforts at reform. The reasons you give are hyperbole.

  91. nooneinparticular says

    Nerd writes

    “The only way I can see to make the death penalty fair is to have the prosecuters, judge, and jury responsible for their verdict if an innocent person is excuted.”

    But the judge and jury are relying on testimony and evidence provided by the prosecution and defense. If they are given bad information how are they, then culpable?

    I know that juries can sometimes (often?) act in risable ways too and certainly many are not sufficiently fair nor are they often selected in a fair manner.

    I guess my point it that judges and juries who must make decisions based on information provided to them by others ought not be held responsible if it turns out that information was bogus.

  92. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    Of course a system that destroys the population it “protects” doesn’t do much to create the illusion of justice.

    Ah, but Ing, you’re forgetting that the justice system, as an arm of the majority, works to bring minority groups to heel.

    The group being destroyed and the group it protects is not the same.

  93. Desert Son, OM says

    No they think its worse if people think the law is fallible

    This is a big problem, and it’s essentially a religious belief. What is “If you’re innocent, you don’t have anything to worry about” if not an argument from faith?

    Still learning,

    Robert

  94. leonpeyre says

    Why couldn’t they start on the Ricks instead? There’s one in Austin who’d be easy to find!

  95. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    If they are given bad information how are they, then culpable?

    They are parties to an innocent person being murdered by the state. First degree murder in most states with the death penalty. You should know that. But then, you are attempting to find excuses for the inexcusable.

    What should happen is that weak case doesn’t make the jury. Only those cases where there is conclusive evidence that will stand the test of time should it go to the jury. Or, the prosecutor shouldn’t go for the death penalty. I put the judge and jury lower on the list than the prosecutors, as they do have the choice on what to ask for as far as punishment goes.

  96. Moggie says

    Ing:

    Too much doubt to risk our own lives…but not someone else’s.

    I have read (though I can’t comment on the accuracy of this) that one of the arguments used in favour of the abolition of capital punishment in the UK was that juries were too often unwilling to find the defendant guilty in capital cases. I’ve served on a couple of juries, and I know that taking the decision which will result in someone going to jail isn’t easy. But if your decision is a matter of life and death, those words “beyond reasonable doubt” will weigh especially heavily on your mind, if you have a shred of decency.

  97. dianne says

    They are parties to an innocent person being murdered by the state. First degree murder in most states with the death penalty.

    But they’ll need a trial too then. And if they are convicted and executed and subsequent evidence shows that the original person was guilty after all, what then? Are the jurors who convicted the jury members now eligible for the death penalty for their participation in the killing of innocent people? It could get messy very quickly.

  98. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    But they’ll need a trial too then. And if they are convicted and executed and subsequent evidence shows that the original person was guilty after all, what then? Are the jurors who convicted the jury members now eligible for the death penalty for their participation in the killing of innocent people? It could get messy very quickly.

    Actually, the trial would the one where the executed is absolved of the crime. The only thing left is to determine they have the right prosecutor or judge or juror, and send them to death row for final processing. But, it is all a pipe dream, at least here in Illinois. I applauded when the legislature abolished the death penalty. As you said, trying for perfect justice is messy.

  99. What a Maroon, Applied Linguist of Slight Foreboding says

    @dianne,

    Think of it as a jobs program. There’ll be more openings for executioners, and of course all of those judges and prosecutors and any juror with a job will need to be replaced.

    Win-win.

  100. says

    Any thoughts on what effect various US jurisdictions having elected judges, District Attournies, and other legal officials has? I’d hate to be in a legal situation where a judges’s decsions could be influenced by whether they’ll get him re-elected or not.

  101. nooneinparticular says

    “Any thoughts on what effect various US jurisdictions having elected judges, District Attournies, and other legal officials has? I’d hate to be in a legal situation where a judges’s decsions could be influenced by whether they’ll get him re-elected or not.”

    That’s a tough one.

    One the one hand, as you point out, having to face elections can make prosecutors or judges pander to special interests in ways that subvert justice. No need, I think, for citations for this. It’s self-evident. On the other hand, when prosecutors and judges are appointed you run the risk of a kind of cronyism that is very difficult to fight as there is no recourse for the public when idiot jurists are appointed.

    The first relies on an educated and enlightened populace to reduced the risk of injustice by voting in those legal eagles who do not pander. The second relies on a kind of honesty and integrity in politicians that is very rare, if it exists at all. Both approaches are mine fields. My personal preference would be to have an appointed judiciary and attorney’s general but that their terms are limited.

    But YMMV.

  102. Sili says

    kevindorner

    An another, historic, example, the reason that capital punishment has been abolished in Britain and Commonwealth countries is the Christie case.

    Historic, yes. GB abolished the death penalty in 1969 and NI in 1973 (for murder at least).

    And the US *re*introduced it in 1977.

    This isn’t about evidence.

  103. TX_secular says

    Thank you #46 for the stats on death penalty error rates. I appreciate this and the other posts that provide thoughtful information related to the real issues raised by the use and misuse of the criminal justice system. I even appreciate the discussion of the weaknesses and backwardness of many in the state. I am not from Texas and I am well aware of all of the reactionary, right wing nonsense that takes place here compared to other states. I am not defending Texas as a state or all the horrible behavior on the part of the people in the criminal justice system here. I just find the “fuck Texas” comments really immature and I find it telling that when this is pointed out many react by attacking further. An innocent man was killed and this is the quality of many of the posts? Why is it whining to point out your short-comings but par for the course to attack me for pointing them out? I just don’t find it rational or flattering.

  104. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Oh dear lord, TX_secular. You’re the one who thought it was important to whine about your besmirched identity and you’re going to lecture US on trivializing an innocent man’s execution?

    Look—you got emotional and defensive over something really, really silly. It’s OK, we all do stuff like that. But you were wrong, it looked really dumb, and that particular plaint is super annoying. Please just let it go and don’t make it worse.

  105. nooneinparticular says

    Sili@119
    “And the US *re*introduced it in 1977.”

    *pedant on*
    Well, to be precise, the US Supreme Court overturned a previous decision that outlawed the death penalty but that left it to the states to decide if they would allow it, just as it had before the 1972 Furman case which barred its implementation. In 1977 that meant 37 states that had capital punishment on their books could re-instate it. One that did not, Oregon, later (in the early 80s) enacted a capital punishment law. Since then three states, Connecticut, New Mexico and New Jersey have outlawed their capital punishment statutes, though both CT and NM have people on death row that may still be put to death because they were not “grandfathered” in.
    *pedant off*

  106. Desert Son, OM says

    TX_secular at #120,

    I just find the “fuck Texas” comments really immature

    Then this may not be the blog for you.

    I find it telling that when this is pointed out many react by attacking further.

    Then this may not be the blog for you.

    I just don’t find it rational or flattering.

    If you are more worried about how comments sound than you are about what comments say, this is very probably not the blog for you.

    “Welcome to fuckin’ Deadwood! Can be combative!”
    -Al Swearengen, HBO’s Deadwood, 2004-2006.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  107. Marcus Hill (mysterious and nefarious) says

    Esteleth @87:

    Now, why can’t Texas do that?

    Why can’t the governor of Texas take an impartial look at hard evidence that the state’s policies are wrong and take a principled stand to protect innocents from being abused by them despite the fact that this is bound to upset his right wing constituents?

    Wait, it was a rhetorical question, wasn’t it?

  108. jimintampa says

    Part of the explanation is that the Texians (as they were then called) seceded from Mexico because Mexico was about to outlaw slavery, and the Texians wanted to keep their free labor.

  109. TX_secular says

    Ing @ 126 – you’ve just made my point about the use of stereotypes and assumptions. I never said I was a man, but evidently I am not only a whiner, but a guy.

    I can see why many women so often feel excluded from the movement. Thanks to all who make assumptions and attack when questioned or asked to clarify. I was under the mistaken assumption that we were trying to learn from each other here, but I see that this is a different kind of blog than what I thought.

    I won’t waste any more of your time.

  110. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I won’t waste any more of your time.

    You didn’t waste our time. You give us a laugh with your idiocy and pointlessness. For example:

    An innocent man was killed and this is the quality of many of the posts? Why is it whining to point out your short-comings but par for the course to attack me for pointing them out? I just don’t find it rational or flattering.

    All the regulars decried the situation. A few trolls attempted to back it up. And you pretend you are the only one decrying the situation. Either you can’t read, or don’t care to read.

  111. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    I don’t even believe TX is a woman. It’s possible, but it’s highly unusual to see that level of sustained, disproportionate egotistical sensitivity in a woman. It’s far more common in men. Straight, white men.

  112. says

    TX,
    You aren’t here to learn, so stop with that bullshit. You left a comment ‘cos we’re all such big meanies to the state of Texas– you know, the state that gleefully kills innocents. Fuck Texas.

    If you had bothered to read my response, you might be able to guess that I’m from NY. What exactly do you propose that a New Yorker do about TX’s criminal justice system? I can’t fucking vote there and I’ve got my hands full keeping up with what’s going on in my home state.

    But apparently it’s too much to ask Texans to clean up their own mess without some jackass coming along and whining about how Texans aren’t that bad. Fuck that. When Texas stops killing, maybe I’ll accept that argument.

  113. erik says

    What fries my butt about my home state of Texas isn’t just this horrifying death penalty stuff; it’s the hyper-bizarre persecution complex. And the fear. For example, if you look at the statistics for the rates of violent crime in my neighborhood in Houston, you find a steady decrease (with bumps) since the 60′s. We are more safe than before, and considerably. But you wouldn’t know it to talk to people who seem to be suspicious of just about everyone.

    To fix Texas is going to be a long and difficult slog, because the right wing nutters have succeeded in convincing a large part of the population that helping others in need with the assistance of government is some sort of weakness.

    The thing is the demographics are changing rapidly. The old white guard is not going to be a majority for that much longer. Of the children born in Texas in 2011, the overwhelming majority were Hispanic.

    A couple of nits to pick: Texas may be a shithole, but then you have to wonder why people keep coming here, and by that I mean those other than illegal immigrants. The state has been gaining US transplants faster than any other state, and hasn’t had a negative interstate migration since the 80′s.

    Second, as much as I can’t stand Rick Perry, the Texas governor’s office has never really been that powerful. He gets a lot of deserved flak for his stance on executions, but the fact of the matter is that more attention needs to be paid to the Court of Criminal Appeals and the Board of Pardons and Paroles. They have the greatest say in what happens. It’s not even clear that the Governor could halt all executions even if he wanted to, other than by arm-twisting the Board. Also, the Governor of Texas does not have the power to set the date of execution, so he couldn’t stop an execution by refusing to issue a date. I realize that there are of course political pressures he could bring to bear, and he won’t because he’s an a-hole, but changing out the Governor might not make that much of a difference.

    One important change would be to require the Court of Criminal Appeals to issue a reasoned decision on each death penalty case.
    Another would be to get a public defender’s office, which we’ve been trying to do in Texas for many years, but it is difficult in the face of an attitude that decries public solutions.

  114. Marcus Hill (mysterious and nefarious) says

    Josh @137:

    It’s possible, but it’s highly unusual to see that level of sustained, disproportionate egotistical sensitivity in a woman. It’s far more common in men. Straight, white men.

    How very dare you!? As a straight white man, I am really offended by your bigoted statement that all straight white men are egotistical and sensitive. I damand an immediate apology.

  115. erik says

    Well, I just went and read most of the report issued in the Columbia Law Journal, and it does make for interesting reading. The issue about the two men, of course, wasn’t that they shared a first name. It was that they look very similar. Even their relatives mistook the two men for each other in photographs. The only person who got a good look at the murderer realized what was going on and tired to intervene. He could not be expected to remember small details to distinguish Carlos DeLuna from Carlos Hernandez, because the suspect threatened the witness, who knew from his Navy experience that he had to look the man straight in the eye in order to avoid the possibility of himself being killed.

    That is in part why eyewitness testimony is bad. The shocking thing in this case is the utter failure of the forensic investigation, thus the reliance on one witness’ ID of DeLuna, which even the witness admits was not perfect. The fact that someone could be convicted and executed on this flimsy evidence is utterly damning of the system.

    For all you commenters who just think that this was about having somebody named Carlos and that’s enough, however, I suggest you go read the report. The failures of the system were many and varied, and not about finding a Hispanic man to string up. Indeed, the lead investigator was herself Hispanic, and so was the forensic investigator, along with a number of other State employees involved. DeLuna’s attorney was also Hispanic, and may have been appointed to the case at the instigation of an Hispanic judge. (I have been trying to find the names of the jurors, without luck so far.)

    What the report unfortunately reveals is an entire system that needs to be reviewed, from the dispatch procedures to the allocation of resources on homicide cases to forensics to the role of the prosecutors to the designation of defense counsel to the appeals process. For example, DeLuna happened to be the first guy the police picked up, because he fit the description and was hiding under a truck. He was positively ID’d by the chief witness (kind of under duress) and from there the DA had a hard time shifting gears when contrary evidence came out, apparently because they don’t like to admit mistakes. This absolutely has to change.

    The other thing that vividly illustrates the danger of these cases was the heartrending tape of Lopez’s 911 call, which recorded her murder. The prosecution played it several times, and the jurors no doubt came away with the feeling that somebody had to pay for this hideous act. In such instance, it would have been all too easy to overestimate the value of the evidence tying DeLuna to the crime.

    Lastly, one really startling thing is that DeLuna’s lawyer said that he thought DeLuna didn’t kill Wanda Lopez, but does think that DeLuna was involved with Hernandez in the robbery of the convenience store where Lopez was working. This whole notion doesn’t seem to appear anywhere in the trial, and makes me wonder whether the lawyer is covering his own butt. But if true it would unfortunately support a death sentence under current Texas law. That rule in and of itself may be barbaric, but it wouldn’t be a railroading of an innocent man.

  116. Phalacrocorax, not a particularly smart avian says

    (I have been trying to find the names of the jurors, without luck so far.)

    You can find the surnames of the jurors in the polling of the jury recorded in the last pages of the trial transcripts. If that’s what you’re looking for, five out of twelve jurors have Spanish-sounding family names.

    Anyway, I’d be careful not to imply that Hispanic people can’t be biased against other Hispanics.

  117. erik says

    Thanks.

    Hispanics can be biased against other Hispanics, but this case doesn’t imply something like a Salvadoran vs Honduran situation. If you’re saying that people of Mexican descent can be biased against other people of Mexican descent, well, that may be true, but it would also be true of any group, anywhere. That would thus really be an indictment of the entire jury system. I was just trying to point out that this isn’t a case of an Hispanic defendant being railroaded by a white judge, police, prosecution and jury. PZ’s original post comes close to implying that.

  118. Phalacrocorax, not a particularly smart avian says

    If you’re saying that people of Mexican descent can be biased against other people of Mexican descent

    Yes, I was thinking more along these lines, my point being that the fact that Hispanics participated in the process is no assurance that the ethnicity of the defendant played no role on his conviction.

    that may be true, but it would also be true of any group, anywhere

    While it may be true for any group, I’d imagine that there’s much more incentive for a member of a minority to incorporate the prejudices of the dominant group than the other way round. But, as I’m in no position to say whether this kind bias played any role in this case, I’ll refrain from further speculation.