Death Row Watch: Are These Innocent Men Who Are About to be Executed?

1.  Larry Ray Swearingen, Texas Death Row

Larry Swearingen maintains his innocence and his attorneys are fighting to have some tribunal hear what they are arguing is new evidence, uncovered since his trial, that proves Larry Swearingen is innocent of the killing of a Texas coed, Melissa Trotter - this includes both DNA evidence and circumstantial evidence.  Bottom line, lots of forensic folk opine that Swearingen was in jail at the time of the murder, which seems like a pretty darn good alibi. 

Still, he's remain on Texas' Death Row for years. 

This week, the United States Supreme Court was asked by Swearingen a new question for the High Court: is executing an innocent person a form of "cruel and unusual punishment" under the federal constitution?

On February 27, 2012, the High Court denied Swearingen's Petition for Writ of Certiorari.  Which means they have shown Mr. Swearingen the door without ruling on his case. 

His execution date has been stayed.  Follow what happens next at his advocate web site

To read commentary on his situation, check out this recent piece in Bloomberg and an earlier piece by Grits for Breakfast. 

2.  Thomas Arthur,  Alabama Death Row

Thomas Arthur will be executed on March 29, 2012, by the State of Alabama unless something is done to stop the legal process.  This, despite the fact that he was also in jail at the time of the murder; another man has confessed to the murder; there is no DNA evidence connecting Arthur to the crime; the list goes on.

Read a summary of the situation here at the New York Times and a great overview of the case here at the Atlantic.. 

Follow what happens next at his advocate web site. 

3.  Read How These Two Cases Are Impacted by the AEDPA Here

Yesterday, we posted about the AEDPA and the recent U.S. Supreme Court case that came down with the statement that the federal appellate courts were "overreaching" to try and find a way around this federal statute, and "burdening" the high court.  Clearly, SCOTUS wants the federal appellate courts to limit their state court review in these sorts of cases. 

The pending executions of Thomas Arthur and Larry Swearingen are two examples of how the implementation of the AEDPA is arguably putting form over substance - especially in death penalty cases - with justice being lost in the process.

For more information:

AEDPA and Thomas Arthur

AEDPA and Larry Swearingen

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