General Question

aidje's avatar

What do you make of the case of Troy Anthony Davis?

Asked by aidje (3657points) September 5th, 2008

Long story short, Troy Davis was convicted of a killing a cop on nothing more than eyewitness testimony. Years later, seven of the nine witnesses have recanted. Still, his execution is scheduled for September 23. Appeals have been attempted, but denied. He’s been on death row for 16 years.

For more detail, see the following links:

his Wikipedia article

Amnesty International’s page on the ordeal

Newspaper article on the recantings

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13 Answers

shilolo's avatar

There have been a number of death penalty debates on Fluther. This one in particular brought out several vehement opinions. What I think you will find is that people fall distinctly into two camps. Those in favor of the death penalty will say “He is likely guilty (either way) and deserves to die” or “We have a flawed system, but I am willing to accept a few mistakes in order for the death penalty to be applied.” Those opposed will cite cases like this one (where there is at least some doubt) as well as others (like the exonerations of death row inmates) to buttress their opinions that the death penalty is (i) morally wrong, (ii) ineffective as a deterrent, and (iii) likely to lead to the executions of innocent people.

susanc's avatar

I am in the second camp in all iii ways.

blastfamy's avatar

You know, I don’t think I have a good enough understanding of all of the issues here to make a statement as to innocence. I’m inclined to believe that those on the bench are nuts not to see that there is probably a case here.

My personal view, regardless of circumstances is that the death penalty is wrong in all cases except where the imprisoned would be likely to harm more people. The death penalty should only be used in uber extreme cases where nothing can be done to stop the person from killing again.

poofandmook's avatar

I don’t think the death penalty should be applied unless there is hard evidence, no less than DNA or actual, clear video/photo evidence showing the person committing the crime. Other than that, life. No parole if there’s a ridiculous amount of evidence, witnesses, etc. Parole in a case like this one (or even less time, but that’s a different story).

I don’t think the death penalty can be used as a deterrent, but I think that someone who obviously (as proven by hard DNA evidence) committed the act should not be allowed to live. I’ve said it before… if you steal money, you’re expected to return the money when you get caught. If you steal a life, the same should apply… IF there is absolutely no room for doubt… I can’t say it enough… DNA.

JackAdams's avatar

Several years ago, a dude named Coleman was executed in VA.

The Governor said, “If you pass a series of polygraph tests, I’ll commute your sentence to life without parole, so you’ll be alive to continue your fight.” [paraphrased]

The kid failed the tests and was executed.

The alleged cop-killer should be given the same chances, to avoid his own death penalty.

When you are scheduled to die, then must be NO DOUBT AT ALL that the ultimate punishment is indeed warranted and justified.

As information, I favor the death penalty, as long as it is also used on crooked politicians.

September 5, 2008, 11:03 PM EDT

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

I hope he gets the chance to make an appeal. Even if it ends up being proven that he did it, this doesn’t sound like nearly enough evidence to kill someone in my opinion.

Judi's avatar

If I were on a jury I would have to know someone was guilty beyond ANY doubt in order to give a death penalty. Eye witness is not good enough for me unless the witness knew the perpetrator well and had no head injuries or major physical traumas during the commission of the crime. Even then the story would have to be backed up by another credible witness or some physical evidence.

JackAdams's avatar

This message, reproduced verbatim, arrived in my e-mail inbox, this morning:

Greetings All,

There are four executions scheduled this week and 22 by the end of the year. See a complete list at, or receive a weekly update via e-mail by joining the For Whom the Bells Toll Campaign e-mail update list by clicking here.

NCADP is updating you about the Troy Davis case because it is so high profile and so compelling. We also want you to know that Jack Alderman, who was scheduled to be killed in Georgia later today, received a stay of execution so that he would have an opportunity to make a case for mercy to the Parole Board. Since then, the Parole Board scheduled a clemency hearing for this morning (Tuesday) at 9am. It is quite possible that this execution will take place.

On Friday, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency for Troy Davis. Georgians For Alternatives to the Death Penalty writes the following:

We are aware of two entities that can prevent the execution of Troy Davis: the US Supreme Court and the Parole Board. While the Board did deny clemency on Friday, they have unfettered discretion all the way up to the final hour and can still weigh in.

These odds are tough, but they are not mathematically impossible. Therefore, we will direct our fight where we have any chance! And we must not let off the attention and activism. There are some media strategies we are working on to influence the Supreme Court. As for the Parole Board, we want to appeal to them again – but we encourage you not to antagonize the board as this is not likely to persuade them to change their decision! The board members each voted Friday in secrecy, so we do not know what the vote count was, but if it was not unanimous, then changing even one person’s mind may be what is needed.

**please send another letter to the board**

You can use the new model at AI’s page – copy/paste or you can send the letter directly from the AI page with a few clicks:

More information and action opportunities are available here.


Also, if you are anywhere near Atlanta, or if you know someone who is, please consider the following:


This Thursday (Sept. 18) at 6pm

Meet: Edgewood Ave. and Peachtree St.

No physical evidence. No murder weapon. Another man implicated.
Add your voice to prevent the execution!

Please sign the petition:

For more info: 404–250-3540 +

And finally, here is a little more background, from

The Georgia Supreme Court subsequently agreed to hear the death row prisoner’s extraordinary motion for a new trial, but in March the Court rejected the motion largely on procedural grounds in a 4–3 vote.

Troubled by this result, Chief Justice Sears stated in her dissent:

”[…] I believe that this case illustrates that this Court’s approach in extraordinary motions for new trials based on new evidence is overly rigid and fails to allow an adequate inquiry into the fundamental question, which is whether or not an innocent person might have been convicted or even, as in this case, might be put to death.”

Thank you for taking action today!

Abraham J. Bonowitz
Director of Affiliate Support
National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
mobile: 561–371-5204

JackAdams's avatar

I forgot to add to my previous post that online petitions have NO IMPACT, whatsoever.

Response moderated
Fela's avatar

This information is the much like my first comment, with several edits. If you can delete my first comment and keep this one it will be greatly appreciated. I made attempts to delete my first comment but could not. Thank you.

The first portion of this comment, published in the Yale Daily News. on 8:12am on September 18, 2008

This information if applied to the Troy Davis case will free him. That is if his attorney[s] are working for him and not against him.

During this case, at anytime was Mr. Davis informed of his full rights under the constitution, was he ever informed of the facts stated in the decision below, which applies to Troy Davis.

This statement presented in the case of HERSHAL HALE, Defendant/Petitioner, v. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff/Respondent. District Court Number CR-99–0132MJJ. In this case it is stated that…

At the onset, “flimsy criminal indictment.” cf. id., is in question marks to show that Defendant Hale’s supporting evidence of proof, in connection with the underlying fictitious, “flimsy criminal indictment,” rests upon the strength and the dignity of the Office of the Presidency of the United States of America, cf. id., because proof of “massive” flimsy criminal indictment[s,]” is furnished on this record by the President of the United States of America. See The Final Days, 1, 261–62 (citation omitted) (1974; 2006) (quoting Oval Office interview that the U.S. Department of Justice, by the President’s own admission, prosecutes “blind” “pawns” with flimsy criminal indictment[s]
Put cogently, the criminal indictment upon which the court haled the defendant into court is the very beginning, as discussed, supra, is a “flimsy criminal indictment.” Id. Thus, the Court was utterly devoid of subject-matter or in personam jurisdiction in this matter from the very beginning. See Midland Asphalt v. United States, 499 U.S. 794, 802, 109 S. Ct, 1494, 103 L. Ed. 2d 879 (1989) (“Only a defect so fundamental that it causes a grand jury to no longer be a grand jury, or the indictment to no longer be an indictment, gives rise to the constitutional right not to be tried.”).

The case of See Schlup v. Delo, supra, 513 U.S., at __, 130 L.Ed. 2d, at 834 protects Mr. Davis’s “newly discovered” and newly asserted” claim of “actual and factual innocence.” Id.

Pawn, v. To deliver personal property in pledge to another in pledge, or as security for a debt or sum borrowed.

Pawn, n. A bailment of goods to a creditor, as security for some debt or engagement; pledge; deposit of personal property made to a pawnbroker as security for a loan. That sort of bailment where goods or chattels are delivered to another as security to him for money borrowed of him by the bailor. Also the specific chattel delivered to the creditor as a pledge.

Is Mr. Davis a ward of the court? If so, how and when was he made a ward of the court? Did Mr. Davis enter into every situation, every signed document, willingly, knowingly, intentionally, voluntarily, intelligently. Was Mr. Davis ever advised of his rights as a member of the national citizenry of this country?
Has this court overridden any U.S. Supreme Court decisions? If yes, does it have the right to do so? Under what jurisdiction is this court operating?

Remember ~ The practice of Law CAN NOT be licensed by any state/State. Schware v. Board of Examiners, 353 U.S. 238, 239. The “certificate” from the State Supreme Court only authorizes: To practice Law, “in Courts” as a member of the State Judicial Branch of Government. A bar card holder can only represent “wards of the Court”. The state bar card is not a license; it is a Union Dues Card of a Professional Association. There is nothing in this decision that states attorneys are working for the good of the public, the national citizenry of this nation.

It is of the greatest importance that those of us who are actively seeking alternatives to lawyers and the legal system in the U.S., America, federal as well as for the national citizenry of this nation, as it currently exist, are active at putting the entire legal system itself on trial every time the doors of any court are open.

Remember, the law is only to be an extension of what each person is allowed to do. “When the law can do what the individual cannot, without that individual being charged with a crime, then we are living in a state of un-lawful law.” ~ Frederic Bastiat

Accept it no more. Seek alternatives to lawyers, those alternatives are here, have been here, are not taught, are active, and truly work to make law as it should be, easily accessible and applicable to and for everyone, equally. What the legal profession in America had done and is designed to do is this. The legal profession in America, has created a new language out of words of simple usage, then claim it is just too difficult for the general public to understand, while charging outrageous prices for their services, and making and keeping us criminals at the same time.

The law must be fair, it is not.
The law must be reasonable, it is not.
The law should compensate only for legitimate injury caused by another, it does not.
The law should provide just compensation; it should not unfairly enrich the players.
The law should address the concerns of our citizens, yet it is created and enforced for political gains.

Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, ~ see the Declaration of Independence. We must abolish the American legal system as well.

Benjamin Franklin described today’s America both federal and the national citizenry correctly, when he said. “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”

bea2345's avatar

this confirms my reservations on the death penalty. Perhaps this is a bit off topic: Mr. Davis is black. Is this a case of faulty police work due to racism?

Cruiser's avatar

There is 2 things that are very questionable here and both seem to cancel each other out. The main witness was originally the prime suspect in the case and the only other remaining witness id’d Davis 2 years after the crime. But Davis fled the scene, changed clothes even borrowing a t shirt from Cole the other witness and then fled out of town. I don’t know here and have to trust the authorities in what they are doing. Certainly with the amount of doubt either of the above casts over this case IMO should be enough to warrant not executing this man.

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