Troy Davis’ lawyers pursue new legal appeal
By BILL RANKIN
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Lawyers for Troy Anthony Davis, scheduled to be executed Monday, are seeking permission to file a new federal lawsuit based on innocence claims.
Davis’ attorneys on Wednesday asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to stay his execution by lethal injection and allow them to file a new round of appeals.
“Mr. Davis’ execution in light of new evidence concerning his innocence is constitutionally intolerable,” the motion said. “Society recoils at state execution of an innocent person.”
Davis, 40, has already pursued – and lost – appeals through the state and federal courts. The U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to hear Davis’ latest appeal, setting the course for his execution.
Davis is on Death Row for the Aug. 19, 1989, murder of 27-year-old Savannah Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail. Since Davis’ trial, seven of nine key prosecution witnesses have recanted their testimony.
The defendant’s claims of innocence have drawn opposition to his execution from leaders across the globe, including former President Jimmy Carter and Pope Benedict XVI.
On Wednesday, the European Union issued a statement, saying doubts about Davis’ guilt call for his death sentence to be commuted. “In these circumstances, there is great risk of miscarriage of justice with irreparable consequences,” the statement said.
Chatham County prosecutors expressed confidence in Davis’ guilt.
“The post-conviction stridency we’ve seen has been much about the death penalty and little about Davis,” District Attorney Spencer Lawton wrote in a recent op-ed piece in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“The jury found that Davis, after shooting another man earlier in the evening, murdered a police officer who came to the rescue of a homeless man Davis had beaten. Officer MacPhail had never even drawn his weapon,” Lawton wrote.
Davis’ court filing said the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 allows a condemned inmate to seek a second round of federal appeals if a federal appeals court approves it. Davis’ lawyers told the 11th Circuit they have made the requisite showing of actual innocence to allow a new round of appeals to begin.