In a highly unusual step, the U.S. Supreme Court today ordered a new hearing in the case of Troy Davis, who has been on Georgia’s death row for nearly two decades for a murder he says he didn’t commit. Ruling on a habeas corpus petition from Davis, the court ordered a federal judge to “receive testimony and findings of fact as to whether evidence that could not have been obtained at the time of trial clearly establishes [Davis’] innocence.”
Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.
But Justice John Paul Stevens cited prior court precedent that said it would be “an atrocious violation of our Constitution and the principles upon which it is based” to execute an innocent man.
“Imagine a petitioner in Davis’s situation who possesses new evidence conclusively and definitively proving, beyond any scintilla of doubt, that he is an innocent man,” Stevens wrote. “The dissent’s reasoning would allow such a petitioner to be put to death nonetheless.”
Read the full story here
. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 08/17/09)
Last year, the Innocence Project joined with the Innocence Network in filing a friend-of-the-court brief in federal court on Davis’ behalf, arguing that eyewitness identification – a major contributor to Davis’ conviction – is often unreliable and that the case should be subject to review on appeal.
Download the Network brief here
UPDATE: Innocence Project Staff Attorney Ezekiel Edwards discussed the case on DemocracyNow! on August 19 with Davis' sister Martina Correia and others.
Watch his appearance here