A Houston judge has granted a pretrial motion declaring the death penalty unconstitutional, saying he believes innocent people have been executed, the Houston Chronicle reports. “Based on the moratorium (on the death penalty) in Illinois, the Innocence Project and more than 200 people being exonerated nationwide, it can only be concluded that innocent people have been executed,” state District Judge Kevin Fine said.
Fine said trial judges are gatekeepers of society’s standard for decency and fairness. “Are you willing to have your brother, your father, your mother be the sacrificial lamb, to be the innocent person executed so that we can have a death penalty so that we can execute those who are deserving of the death penalty?” he said. “I don’t think society’s mindset is that way now.” Fine’s ruling will be appealed and almost certainly reversed. If judges “feel strongly enough, sometimes they’ll grant a motion like this to buck the system, just to stir the waters,” said University of Houston law Prof. Sandra Thompson.