the plot sickens
March 11, 2003 9:18 AM   Subscribe

"Mr. Banks, a man with no prior criminal record, is most likely innocent of the charge that put him on death row. Fearing a tragic miscarriage of justice, three former federal judges (including William Sessions, a former director of the F.B.I.) have urged the U.S. Supreme Court to block Wednesday's execution.

"So far, no one seems to be listening." [via atrios]
posted by donkeyschlong (14 comments total)
More details: from one site supporting Banks' innocence and one supporting his guilt (scroll down).
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:42 AM on March 11, 2003

Hmm...the one supporting his innocence is neatly laid out with bullet points representing factual rebuttals to the case against him and deficiencies in his own defense. The one supporting his guilt is one huge paragraph largely composed of quotes from involved parties about how glad they are that the killer will be put to death.

I'm not against the death penalty in theory, but this kind of rhetorical ass-kicking is embarrassing and all too typical of that side of the debate.
posted by Epenthesis at 10:16 AM on March 11, 2003

no better time that to re-listen to the exonerated.
posted by grimley at 10:17 AM on March 11, 2003

this is ugly, though not a surprise. i don't know how the prosecutors can live with themselves. honestly.

up until the mid-1970's prosecutors in Dallas actually had a manual that said, "Do not take Jews, Negroes, Dagos, Mexicans or a member of any minority race on a jury, no matter how rich or well-educated."

for god's sake, don't take anyone who might possibly identify with the defendant. like his peers, for instance.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:54 AM on March 11, 2003

The old guilt or innocence thing is way over-rated according to the Texas judicial system. If they're poor, they're guilty by default. Now we see what an "expedient" system looks like. Thanks Duhbya!
posted by nofundy at 11:12 AM on March 11, 2003

anyone catch the life of david gale?
posted by th3ph17 at 11:52 AM on March 11, 2003

Amnesty International has an initiative to oppose this execution and some others in Texas, if anyone’s interested.
posted by win_k at 12:34 PM on March 11, 2003

anyone catch the life of david gale?

I personally have not seen it, but Roger Ebert really blasted this movie in his review, giving it a Zero Star Rating. He also responded to a letter from a viewer who asks him why the movie was so bad, and Ebert gives away the ending because it was so terribly done.
posted by fishbulb at 1:23 PM on March 11, 2003

The State also presented evidence that Banks later attempted to recover the murder weapon so that it could be used in future armed robberies. Banks confirmed both incidents when he testified in his own defense during sentencing proceedings.

Has the defense addressed this apparent connection to the murder weapon? I don't see any rebuff of the testimony concerning the gun which, as far as I can tell, is the key piece of evidence in the case.

I support the death penalty but, like Epenthesis, I would prefer that the prosecution have a bit more in the way of evidence and a bit less in the way of cheerleading. It does seem, at least at first blush, that there are some problems here. I would certainly want to see how the defense is addressing the gun issue, however. So: a stay is in order.
posted by UncleFes at 1:54 PM on March 11, 2003

UncleFes: I have to wonder, why do you support a system which wastes taxpayer money by killing people, instead of locking them up for life? Are you aware that choosing to go for the death penalty instead of life in prison increases the complete cost of the prisoner's sentencing and incarceration by more than a third?

I'm against the death penalty for ethical reasons, and concerns about it's application, but I'm against it even more because it's not cost-effective. Legalized retributory murder may be satisfying, but I'd rather my state have an extra couple million bucks a year to spend on something else; Wouldn't you?
posted by mosch at 7:30 PM on March 11, 2003

and, of course, there's that huge body of evidence showing that tougher punishment prevents crime...

I'm reminded of the Thai meth problem, where applying the death penalty for mere possession of methamphetamines has done absolutely nothing to curb the drug problem.

I think other, similar, statistics can be applied to US law, though I don't have sources immediately available.
posted by kaibutsu at 3:09 AM on March 12, 2003

I support the death penalty for two reasons; one, the primary reason, is that there are some crimes that are so heinous, that are such affronts to civilized society, that are so despicable, that their is only one suitable punishment, that being death. And for two, that life imprisonment seems so rarely to actually be life imprisonment. Imprison a criminal for life, they basically spend their days fomenting appeals, planning escapes, victimizing other prisoners, getting paroled, and (even in prison) acquiring and enjoying the pleasures of life. I think that's wrong.

When the justice system can guarantee that a sentence of life imprisonment means EXACTLY that - that the person will remain incarcertated until their death and will never again have the opportunity to reprise whatever the crime they committed - I will rethink my support for the death penalty. I do have concerns about the application, hence my willingness to state that I feel a stay is in order in this case. I also feel that DNA testing should be used in all death penalty cases. I do not want an innocent man to be executed! If it were bloodthirstiness that drove death penalty advocates, the laborous process of conviction to execution would be streamlined, and it has not been. I can speak only for myself, but I support the death penalty as an instrument for appropriate justice.

On a side note, I think the much-touted "deterrence" effect of the death penalty is a sham - there is no deterrence effect. Death penalty advocates, in my opinion, would be wise to quit trying to produce one.
posted by UncleFes at 7:23 AM on March 12, 2003

Fes, I used to work for the NYC DA's office, homicide investigation unit, and there are ways to ensure a criminal never sees the light of day. The best one is to compound crimes and have consecutive sentencing. In one case I was involved in, a drug gang's head hitman was convicted of multiple crimes (including homicides) that resulted in a 700 year sentence. Now, a lot of people say, "That's just stupid. Who's gonna live 700 years?" But a 700 year sentence with your first parole board hearing a hundred years from date of sentencing means you'll be in the ground before you're up for parole.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:12 PM on March 12, 2003

Well, looks like somebody listened.
posted by Potsy at 5:44 PM on March 12, 2003

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