USA: ‘Where is the justice for me?’: The case of Troy Davis, facing execution in Georgia

February 1, 2007

USA: ‘Where is the justice for me?’: The case of Troy Davis, facing execution in Georgia

Martina Correia, January 2007

Please appeal for clemency for Troy Davis

In Georgia, the clemency authority is the State Board of Pardons and Paroles. In its annual report of 2005, the Board describes its task thus:

"The Parole Board has the sole constitutional authority to reduce capital punishment cases to a sentence of life or life without parole. Once a death row inmate exhausts his judicial appeals an execution date is set. At that time, the condemned inmate can request an appointment before the Board to ask for executive clemency. Prior to the appointment, the Board staff compiles an exhaustive set of reports about the circumstances of the offense, criminal history and life of the condemned inmate. Each Board member reviews the file and the appointment is scheduled to allow those in favour of clemency to appear before the entire Board. Usually the appointment is attended by the inmate’s attorneys, family or friends. The condemned inmate does not attend the appointment. At the conclusion of the appointment, Board members each cast a confidential vote on the request to commute the death sentence. A majority of three affirmative votes is required to commute a death sentence."(61)

Since executions resumed in the USA in January 1977, 39 prisoners have been put to death in Georgia (by 1 February 2007). In the same period, six prisoners have been granted clemency.(62)

Recommendations for appeals

Using the information in this report, please write to the Georgia parole board, in your own words, to seek clemency for Troy Davis. If possible, write a separate appeal to each of the individual Board members. If you can only write one appeal, please send it to the Chairperson. Please write in English. We recommend that your appeals be no more than two pages in length. The following is a guide only:

Ø explaining that you are not seeking to condone the murder of Officer Mark Allen McPhail, or to downplay the seriousness of the crime or the suffering caused;
Ø explaining that you are writing to seek clemency for Troy Anthony Davis, whose judicial appeals are almost exhausted;
Ø noting that almost all of the witnesses who testimony was used against Troy Davis at his trial have since recanted or contradicted their trial testimony;
Ø noting the large number of wrongful convictions in capital cases that have been uncovered in the USA since 1976;
Ø noting that unreliability of witness testimony has been one of the contributing factors in numerous of these cases;
Ø expressing concern that Troy Davis has not had a hearing in federal court on the reliability of the witness testimony used against him at trial;
Ø noting that the power of clemency in capital cases exists as a failsafe against irreversible error that the courts have been unable or unwilling to remedy;
Ø noting that numerous death row inmates whose judicial appeals have been exhausted have received clemency since 1977 in the USA on the grounds of doubts about their guilt (see footnote 57);
Ø calling on the Board to commute the death sentence of Troy Davis.