In a discussion at the University of Florida Law School, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said that recent research reveals that Texas almost certainly executed an innocent man in 1989.

Stevens said, “Within the last year, Jim Liebman, who’s a professor at the Columbia Law School and was a former law clerk of mine, has written a book…called The Wrong CarlosHe has demonstrated, I think, beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is a Texas case in which they executed the wrong defendant, and that the person they executed did not in fact commit the crime for which he was punished. And I think it’s a sufficient argument against the death penalty…that society should not take the risk that that might happen again, because it’s intolerable to think that our government, for really not very powerful reasons, runs the risk of executing innocent people.” Prof. Liebman’s research showed that Carlos DeLuna’s case involved faulty eyewitness testimony and police failure to investigate an alternative suspect.

Justice Stevens went on to say that he believes the risk of executing the innocent is “an adequate reason for abolishing the death penalty, and it should prevail.”


T. Nashrulla, Former Supreme Court Justice Confirms Texas Once Executed An Innocent Man, Buzzfeed News, January 26, 2015; video of John Paul Stevens’ dis­cus­sion, quote begins at 57:00.

See Innocence and New Voices.