Federal Judge Sets High Standard of Proof and Rejects Troy Davis's Innocence Claim

On August 24, U.S. District Court Judge William T. Moore Jr. rejected Troy Davis’s petition to overturn his conviction for killing a police officer in 1989 in Georgia. Judge Moore chose a high standard of proof that Davis would have to meet to establish his innocence claim: Davis needed to prove by “clear and convincing evidence that no reasonable juror would have convicted him in light of the new evidence.” Judge Moore did conclude that it would be unconstitutional to execute “those who can make a truly persuasive demonstration of innocence.” This holding has only been assumed for the sake of argument by the U.S. Supreme Court. He also acknowledged that “the State’s case may not be ironclad.” Davis, who has spent nearly two decades on death row, has attracted support from many human rights groups because a number of key prosecution witnesses recanted their trial testimony, and other witnesses have come forward implicating another suspect. Last year, the Supreme Court issued an historical ruling allowing Davis to present evidence that had been uncovered since his trial. It is possible that Judge Moore’s ruling will now return to the Supreme Court for further review. Read Judge Moore’s ruling: Part I and Part II.

(B. Rankin, “Judge rejects Troy Davis innocence claim,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 24, 2010). See Innocence and U.S. Supreme Court. Read Amnesty International’s press release.