Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Nooses Tighten -- UPDATE

As I type this, it is a little after 1 in the morning in Ohio.  In just under 9 hours, Ron Phillips will be killed at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.

The killers will be a group of prison guards.  It's duty they've volunteered for.  They've chosen, for whatever reason, to kill a man for whom they hold no personal animus, a man who's done them no personal wrong.

Those guards won't be acting alone.  Killing Ron Phillips wasn't their idea, after all.  It was the prosecutor who decided he should be killed and the jurors who agreed.  The trial judge signed off on it.  So did appellate judges, justices of the Ohio Supreme Court, judges and justices in federal court. 

The Parole Board was cool with it.  So, it seems, is Governor Kasich who's skipping opening day at the state fair to oversee the murder.

It doesn't need to happen.  We've managed this long without killing him or anyone else.  No need to start up the pumps again.  Thing is, it's not about need.  It's desire.  They want to kill him.  Nothing personal of course.  Not for most of them.  It's calculated.  A dispassionate decision.

Oh, the courts could still call a halt.  So could the Governor who's received petitions with somewhere close to 100,000 signatures asking him to stop it.

I've been happily surprised before, but I don't think I will today.  

8 1/2 hours.

And then there's TaiChin Preyor.  He's got until Thursday.  A whole day left to contemplate his . . . .

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals turned him down.  Not because they had to.  Because they could.  Here's the explanation.  

Which is a long way of saying, 
We don't gotta.
Of course, that's just a fancy way of saying 
We don't wanna.
Which puts 'em in the same camp as all those folks up in Ohio.  Sure, we don't have to kill him.  But we actually want to.  Even though (here it comes again), he didn't do anything personally to us.  It just feels good.

You know, like the old Nike commercials.  
Just do it!
'Cause we can.

Judge Alcala dissented in a 33 page opinion (that Scribd doesn't seem to want to let me embed, so here's a link.

He doesn't disagree with the majority's cold-hearted legal calculus.  It's not that we have to grant him relief, he says.  

It's just that what they have to do isn't the whole thing.  It matters, too, what they ought to do.  It matters that they can grant relief.  And in this case . . . .
The extreme circumstances presented in this application include the essential abandonment by applicant’s initial habeas counsel, and the interloping by a foreign attorney without credentials to practice before this Court and in the absence of applicant’s informed consent to pursue habeas litigation for him as a non-attorney. This Court should stay this impending execution of applicant and file and set this case to consider overruling Graves. Assuming Graves is overruled, I would remand this case to the habeas court so as to permit this applicant, who has made a prima facie case that trial counsel performed ineffectively as to their investigation and presentation of mitigation evidence, a live hearing in the habeas court. Because this Court denies the motion to stay execution and permits this execution of applicant several days from now despite the egregious post-conviction errors in this case, I respectfully dissent.
It is, of course, a dissent.


UPDATE -- In case you couldn't tell, I'm an idiot.  It's now a bit past noon, and I just realized that today is Tuesday, not Wednesday.

Ron Phillips is scheduled to be killed tomorrow, not today.  TaiChin Preyor on Thursday, not tomorrow.

So there's more time yet for something to happen.  I'm still not holding my breath.

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