UPDATE: Clemency Hearing Set for Davis

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(APN) ATLANTA — The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles will hear from the attorneys of Troy Davis, a Georgia man on death row, on September 12, 2008, at 9am. Representatives for Davis had filed a petition with the Board requesting clemency this week.

Georgians for the Abolition of the Death Penalty and Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) will hold a rally for Davis on September 11, 2008, from 6 to 8pm on the steps of the Georgia Capitol.

Today, September 05, 2008, the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections, James E. Donald, set the execution date for September 23 at 7 pm at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.

Meanwhile, new details emerged about the role of the Georgia Attorney General’s office in the State’s setting the stage for executing Davis. Atlanta Progressive News has appended a correction to yesterday’s report that the Attorney General’s Office issued a death warrant for Davis.

The death warrant was in fact issued by the Chatham County Superior Court on September 03, 2008, according to a copy of the court order obtained by APN. That warrant was then transmitted to the Attorney General’s office, Davis’s defense attorneys, and the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections.

The only possible role the Attorney General’s Office could have played in this matter is that it could have asked the State to hold off on the execution due to legal questions. However, the office chose not to do so, Russ Willard, a media representative for the office told APN.

The Attorney General’s Office also released a legal analysis of the case on September 03, 2008, which was reprinted on the website for WSAV-TV website, an NBC affiliate in Savannah.

“TheĀ… decision to issue the death warrant is an appalling display of injustice,” Larry Cox, Executive Director for AIUSA, said in a press release.

“Given the Georgia Supreme Court’s failure to order an evidentiary hearing for Mr. Davis, it is all the more essential that the Georgia Board [of Pardons and Paroles] step in. We are disappointed by the… decision to short-circuit justice.”

As previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News, seven of nine witnesses prosecutors used to obtain Davis’s conviction have recanted or changed their testimony in sworn affidavits since the conviction in 1991. One of the two remaining witnesses has been implicated by some of the others as the actual killer.

Davis has gone through a grueling appeals process asking for a new trial. In July 2007, Davis was only one day away from execution before the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles issued a 90-day stay of execution.

The Parole Board was going to conduct its own review; however, their review was placed on hold due to pending court appeals.

In August 2007, Davis’s attorneys filed an extraordinary motion for a new trial in Chatham County, which was denied.

The Georgia Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in November 2007 but they ruled 4-3 against Davis on March 17, 2008.

Attorneys appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court to reconsider their March 17 decision with no luck. Davis decided then to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Last year the [parole board] stated that they will not carry out this execution unless there is no doubt as to Mr. Davis’ guilt,” Jared Feuer, Southern Regional Director for AIUSA, told Atlanta Progressive News.

“Throughout his legal appeals, the courts have relied on technicalities to ignore essential evidence as to Mr. Davis’s guilt. Not only do doubts remain, but they are pervasive. Letting this execution go forward simply should not be an option.”

By issuing the death warrant, the State is basically “trying to take the ball out of the U.S. Supreme Court’s hands,” Feuer said.

“There is no reason they couldn’t have waited,” Feuer said. “What they’re doing is cutting off legal avenues.”

While there is a chance the Board could issue another stay of execution, it is more likely they will either commute Davis’s sentence or give the go ahead for execution, Feuer said.

About the author:

Jonathan Springston is a Senior Staff Writer for The Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at jonathan@atlantaprogressivenews.com.

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