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

(15) See Capital punishment’s deathly injustice, Los Angeles Times, 28 August 1978, available at

(16) USA: Joseph Amrine: Facing execution on tainted testimony, AMR 51/085/2002, June 2002,

(17) See, for example, Did Texas execute an innocent man? Houston Chronicle, 24 July 2006.

(18) NAACP report available at

(19) USA: An appeal to President Clinton, Vice-President Gore and Governor Bush of Texas to condemn one illegal execution and to stop another, AI Index: AMR 51/096/2000, 15 June 2000, See also, Mandy Welch and Richard Burr, The politics of finality and the execution of the innocent: The case of Gary Graham. In: Machinery of Death: The reality of America’s death penalty regime. Edited by David Dow and Mark Dow, Routledge Books, 2002.

(20) Nevertheless, as well as the above cases, a number of investigations have unearthed evidence pointing to the execution of wrongfully convicted individuals in the USA. Journalists at the Chicago Tribune, for example, have raised compelling evidence that Carlos DeLuna, executed in Texas in 1989 for a murder committed six years earlier, was innocent of the crime for which he was put to death. See 3-part series by Steve Mills and Maurice Possley, Chicago Tribune: ‘I didn’t do it. But I know who did’ (25 June 2006). A phantom, or the killer? (26 June). The secret that wasn’t (27 June).,0,7935000.htmlstory.

(21) Davis v. State (1993), affirming the conviction and death sentence.

(22) Samuel R. Gross. The risks of death: Why erroneous convictions are common in capital cases. Buffalo Law Review, Volume 44, pages 469-500 (1996).

(23) This can be even more pronounced when the victim was white and the perpetrator black, as in this case.

(24) Witherspoon v. Illinois, 391 U.S. 510 (1968).

(25) Wainwright v. Witt, 469 U.S. 412 (1985). In 1992, in Morgan v. Illinois, the Court explicitly extended the Witt standard to include proponents of the death penalty. In other words, anyone whose support for the death penalty would "prevent or substantially impair" them from performing his or her duties as a juror can be dismissed for cause.

(26) Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. Addendum: Mission to the United States of America, UN Doc. E/CN.4/198/68/Add.3, para. 147. 22 January 1998.

(27) Lockhart v. McCree, 476 U.S. 162 (1986).

(28) Ibid. Justices Marshall, Brennan and Stevens, dissenting.

(29) Mike Allen, Edward Mabry and Drue-Marie McKelton, Impact of juror attitudes about the death penalty on juror evaluations of guilt and punishment: A meta-analysis. Law and Human Behaviour, Volume 22, No. 6, 1998, pages 715 to 731.

(30) Marla Sandys, Stacking the deck for guilt and death: The failure of death qualification to ensure impartiality. In: America’s experiment with capital punishment. Edited by James R. Acker, Robert M. Bohm and Charles S. Lanier. Carolina Academic Press, 1998.

(31) A May 2006 Gallup Poll in the USA found that when given a choice between the sentencing options of life without parole and the death penalty, fewer than half – 47 per cent – of respondents chose capital punishment. This was the lowest percentage in two decades. 63 per cent of respondents said that they believed that an innocent person had been executed in the previous five years. 64 per cent disagreed with the notion that the death penalty deters murder. Polls in the 1980s and early 1990s indicated a majority believing that the death penalty deterred murder.