TX Judge Rescinds Ruling State Death Penalty Unconstitutional


A Houston judge who ruled last week that the procedures surrounding the Texas death penalty are unconstitutional rescinded his ruling yesterday and scheduled a hearing for April 27 on the case, reports the Houston Chronicle. State District Judge Kevin Fine reiterated that his ruling was limited to whether the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure allows for the execution of innocent people. He said there was no precedent to guide him.”There’s nothing in my research that says it is OK to execute innocent people so that we may have a death penalty,” Fine said. He said society’s standards of decency and fairness have changed and, “what we know, without burying our heads in the sand, is that we have executed innocent people.”

Fine’s original ruling last week drew fire from Pat Lykos, Harris County’s district attorney, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, and Gov. Rick Perry for what they called “judicial activism.” Fine’s decision to rescind his ruling had some analysts scratching their heads. “It’s great to shoot first and ask questions later, isn’t it?” said Prof. Adam Gershowitz of the University of Houston Law Center. “It’s not as if there’s not three or four decades of death penalty litigation that you might want to consult before ruling the entire death penalty unconstitutional in the state of Texas.”

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