The Supreme Court today lifted the death sentence for a long-serving Texas inmate who claimed that prosecutors played dirty and withheld evidence at his trial.
The court’s action came in the case of a man who came within minutes of execution before the body stepped in last year to stop it, the Associated Press reported.
Delma Banks, one of the country’s longest-serving death row inmates, was sentenced to die for the 1980 killing of a 16-year-old former co-worker at a fast food restaurant. The high court’s 7-2 ruling means Banks can continue to press his appeals in lower courts.
He claims that prosecutors lied and that his original defense lawyer did not do enough to help him.
“When police or prosecutors conceal significant exculpatory or impeaching material, we hold, it is ordinarily incumbent on the state to set the record straight,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the high court majority.
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony M. Kennedy, David H. Souter and Stephen Breyer fully agreed with Ginsburg. Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia did not agree that Banks got a raw deal from prosecutors, but still would have sent his case back to a federal appeals court for further consideration.