- Please take action as-soon-as possible. This Urgent Action expires on April 5, 2023.
- Write a letter in your own words or using the sample below as a guide to the government official listed below. You can also email, fax, call or Tweet them.
- Click here to let us know the actions you took on Urgent Action 23.23. It’s important to report because we share the total number with the officials we are trying to persuade and the people we are trying to help.
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
P.O. Box 13401
Austin, Texas 78711-3401, USA
Email: [email protected]
Dear Board members,
Before you is the clemency petition for Andre Lee Thomas (TDCJ No: 999493), whose case Judge Cathy Cochran on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals described as “extraordinarily tragic”, involving a man who has “a severe mental illness” and “suffers from psychotic delusions”. The Texas courts have nevertheless upheld his death sentence, as have federal courts, applying the highly deferential standard for federal review of state court decisions under US law, a requirement which has undermined international fair trial standards.
This is a case that cries out for your compassion and intervention, and many mental health professionals and organizations, as well as faith leaders across the USA have called on you to act.
There are deep concerns that the trial of Andre Thomas was infected by racial bias. Twelve white jurors, a quarter of whom had made clear their opposition to interracial marriage and procreation, were chosen to determine the fate of a Black man accused of the murder of his white estranged wife and her two mixed race children. A judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has said that allowing these three to sit on this jury was in itself “objectively unreasonable”. However, the defence lawyers only cursorily questioned the views of one of these three jurors, and not at all in the case of the other two. The defence neither sought to summarily dismiss them, nor object when they were selected. As three US Supreme Court Justices noted in 2022, Andre Thomas was thereby convicted and sentenced to death “by a jury that included three jurors who expressed bias against him” and maintained that he had clearly been denied his constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel. The trial lawyers had also failed to question his competency to stand trial despite the sedative effects of the heavy medication used to quell his psychosis.
International law prohibits the use of the death penalty against people with mental (psychosocial) disabilities, requires the administration of justice to be free and seen to be free of racial discrimination, and for anyone facing the death penalty to be ensured adequate legal assistance at all stages of proceedings. This execution would violate international law binding on all jurisdictions in the USA.
The mental health and public safety systems failed Andre Thomas long before the state decided to kill him. I urge you to recommend that Governor Abbott commutes his death sentence.