Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Troy Davis is scheduled to die, tomorrow night, at 7p.m.  On August 19, 1989, he was convicted of murdering an off-duty Savannah police officer. All appeals have been exhausted, the latest being a denial of clemency by a Georgia parole board.

The existing evidence supporting a conclusion of innocence has been well documented. Seven of the nine witnesses, who linked Davis to the shooting, have either recanted or materially altered the stories they told the jury. William S. Sessions, a former federal district judge in Texas and FBI Director under Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, wrote a sharply-worded editorial last week, in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Serious questions about Mr. Davis' guilt, highlighted by witness recantations, allegations of police coercion, and a lack of relevant physical evidence, continue to plague his conviction."
Also calling for a halt to the execution are Pope Benedict XVI, former President Jimmy Carter and the leadership of the NAACP, as well as Amnesty International. (see John Rudolph's excellent article in the Huffington Post)

Let's be clear. The issue at hand is not a request for a new trial. That meritorious claim has been wiped away. What is being sought is a commutation of sentence from death to life imprisonment.

Surely, there has been enough post-conviction evidence developed to warrant this "relief." Prosecutorial supporters cry out for justice. The blindfold on Lady Justice, however, demonstrates that we are dedicated to treating all Americans with fairness, equity and in a manner that is right. She is blinded to demographic characteristics such as race, social class or gender. The protests in this case are more than just another anti-death-sentence stance. Indelible nagging doubts have been created and won't go away.

At one point in the appellate process, the U.S. Supreme Court, for the first time in over fifty years, remanded the case for a hearing which would afford Davis an opportunity to prove his innocence!!! A federal District Judge set the burden of proof bar at "clear and compelling evidence." What ever happened to the constitutional mandate that a defendant bears no burden of proof, at any time? Not surprisingly, the Judge found that Davis had not met this contrary, ridiculously high standard.

 My comments are not painted with a broad brush. They are confined to this particular case. Life imprisonment does not fit comfortably in the definitions of "leniency."

The countdown to death continues. If, at 7.01p.m., tomorrow night, an individual confesses guilt, attended by irrefutable evidence, it will be too late.

Irreversible error.


  1. Judge, i hope all is well. i wanted you to know that people who may pass across this documentation are provided the benefit of a clear illustration of the functions and significance of the legal issues at work. This is important not for just an understanding of the system but to relegate those things as one of the system, the other part being the human condition and the whole of compassion. A pleasure being in your class last spring and a further gift reading your thoughts. I hope all is well.

    I also must note I am saddened by the outcome of the supreme court's decision at this hour. My heart is with all effected parties and further damage to the integrity of justice.

  2. Judge Alch,

    We found out at 10:21 that the Supreme Court would not grant stay to Davis' execution. As a native Georgian, I am utterly ashamed. The legal system seems to have a few gears missing.

    My condolences to Troy Davis and his family. Innocent until proven guilty, not visa versa.