On December 22, attorneys for John Green filed a brief with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals asking that a pre-trial hearing concerning the constitutionality of the state’s death penalty be allowed to continue. An amicus brief in support of continuing the hearing was also filed by former governors, legislators, former judges and prosecutors, victim family members and freed death row inmates, all of whom shared a concern over the risk of wrongful executions in Texas. The brief stated, “[U]nless Texas addresses the proven causes of wrongful convictions, including eyewitness misidentification, faulty forensics, unreliable informant evidence, among other documented factors, the state runs the grave risk of executing an innocent person.” The signatories included: three former governors, including Gov. Mark White (TX), Gov. Parris Glendening (MD) and Gov. Joe Kernan (IN); former Dallas Assistant District Attorney James A. Fry; legislators, including Texas State Senator Rodney Ellis; and death row exonerees including Anthony Graves, who was freed from Texas’ death row in October after new evidence proved his innocence.

The Court of Criminal Appeals temporarily halted the hearing, which began on Dec. 6, after 2 days of testimony. Harris County prosecutors had elected to remain silent during the hearing, but requested that the hearing be stopped. Evidence had been presented about the risks of executing the innocent and about problems with eyewitness identification and informant evidence, exactly the kind of evidence likely to be used against Green for a 2008 robbery and murder.

(“Hearing on Texas death penalty stopped by court,” Associated Press, December 7, 2010; press release concerning the amicus filing, Dec. 22, 2010). Read the Amicus Brief of prominent individuals. See Innocence.