Texas Judge Sets November Hearing On State Death Penalty Law


Texas’ use of capital punishment will undergo legal scrutiny this fall as a judge scheduled a hearing for Nov. 8 to listen to evidence on whether there’s a substantial risk the state’s death penalty law allows for the possible execution of an innocent person, reports the Associated Press. State Judge Kevin Fine set the hearing as part of a pretrial motion in which two defense attorneys for a Houston man facing a possible death sentence asked that Texas’ death penalty statute be declared unconstitutional. Earlier, Fine had declared the law unconstitutional because he believed it is safe to assume innocent people have been executed.

Fine, a Democrat, is a judge in Harris County, which sends more inmates to death row than any other county in the nation. Texas has carried out more executions than any other U.S. state. The November hearing could last at least two weeks and death penalty experts from around the country are expected to testify, said defense attorney Casey Keirnan. he represents John Edward Green Jr., accused of fatally shooting a Houston woman and wounding her sister during a robbery. “I think everybody in the United States would agree that the possibility exists” an innocent person has been executed, Keirnan said. “We think there is much more than a possibility, based on all the exonerations, all the problems with the forensics.” Prosecutor Kari Allen opposes a hearing if it concerns whether Texas has executed an innocent person. She said, “We do not believe (Fine) has the jurisdiction to make that sort of ruling.”

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