CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Friday, October 15, 2010

"Family’s Effort to Clear Name Frames Debate on Executions"

The New York Times has this story:

AUSTIN, Tex. — It was an unusual hearing. The subject at the center of it all, Cameron Todd Willingham, was not present. After being convicted of murdering his three children in a 1991 house fire, he was executed in 2004.

Members of Mr. Willingham’s family, working with lawyers who oppose the death penalty, had asked for the rare and controversial hearing, held here on Thursday, to investigate whether Mr. Willingham was wrongfully convicted. They argue that the proceeding, known as a court of inquiry, could restore Mr. Willingham’s reputation, a right guaranteed under Texas law, even to the dead.

But they also say that the hearing is more than symbolic — it could cast in a new light the Lone Star State’s record on executions. And more broadly, they argue, it is a cautionary tale about the power of flawed science to sway a courtroom, and a glaring injustice that could affect debates over the fairness of the death penalty.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/crimprof_blog/2010/10/familys-effort-to-clear-name-frames-debate-on-executions.html

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