Two *Extremely* Important Action Items: Save Troy Davis and the Somalia Emergency Food Fund [Updated!]

This will be a quick and dirty post because I’m swamped, but there are two important action items that you really must act upon.

First, the Senate Appropriations Committee is voting on the Agricultural Appropriations Bill this afternoon. I’m not sure when. It looks like the Senate is recessed until 2:15 p.m so that’s 45 minutes from now. I can’t find anything about when the vote is going to be held, but if you have not yet done so, please contact your Senator (if he or she is on the Appropriations Committee). All contact info (including telephone and fax numbers) are included, as well as a sample template letter. It will literally take you 3 minutes. CLICK HERE.

Second, Troy Davis has been given an execution date of September 21. What follows is a post about Troy Davis by Emily L. Hauser. This case is just APPALLING:

Troy Davis in the Chatham County Superior Court during his trail in the shooting death of off-duty police officer Mark MacPhail. (AP Photo/Savannah Morning News)

Troy Davis, the death row inmate about whom I wrote last week, has been given an execution date of September 21.

I repeat: Mr. Davis is almost certainly innocent of the crime for which the state of Georgia wants to kill him.

There is no physical evidence connecting him to the crime, seven out of the nine eyewitnesses have recanted, stating that they had been pressured, coerced or frightened into testifying, and jury members have said flat out: “If I knew then what I know now, Troy Davis would not be on death row.”

The police officer that Mr. Davis was convicted of murdering deserves that justice be done — but killing a man who had nothing to do with Officer MacPhail’s death will only compound the injustice horribly.

Please, please:

  1. If you haven’t signed the Amnesty petition yet, please do so by clicking here.
  2. If you are a member of the legal profession or clergy, please join the sign-on letters being circulated in support of Mr. Davis’s request for clemency. Legal professionals click here; clergy, click here.
  3. Write a letter to Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles (address and sample letter below): Here again, it is important to focus on the holes in the case — the fact that anything less than an ironclad verdict cannot be the basis for the death penalty.
  4. Watch the following video, regarding clemency for Troy, and pass it on– “The State of Georgia does not have to execute Troy Davis and it should not execute Troy Davis,” in the words of Prof Russell Covey, Criminal Law Expert, Georgia State University. “There is one fail-safe built into the system that still exists, and that’s the clemency process.”
  5. ASK OTHERS TO DO LIKEWISE, particularly citizens of Georgia. Send a link to this post, or to any of the above information, and ask your friends and loved ones to take action. Twitter and Facebook are great ways to spread news far and wide — if you are on either, please use them in support of Troy.

There is no other way to put this: There is a very real possibility that Troy Davis will be dead before the month is out, killed for a crime that he didn’t commit. Please do whatever you can to save his life.


Sample letter to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles (if you are a member of the legal profession or clergy, please say so in your letter):

Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles
2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE
Suite 458, Balcony Level, East Tower
Atlanta, Georgia 30334-4909.

To the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles,

In the interest of justice, I appeal to you to grant clemency to Troy Davis, who is currently scheduled to be executed on September 21. He was sentenced to death in 1991 for the murder of Police Officer Mark MacPhail.

I am deeply concerned that Mr. Davis may be executed despite serious doubts regarding his guilt, and the fact that the case against him has steadily unraveled over the years. There is no physical evidence linking Mr. Davis to the crime, seven out of nine eyewitnesses have recanted, and many witnesses have implicated another man all together, someone reported to have boasted of the crime to friends — one of the original witnesses. There are scores of unresolved questions about what happened the night of the murder, and only one thing is clear: There is overwhelming doubt.

The murder of Officer MacPhail was tragic, and I in no way seek to deny or diminish the pain and suffering the MacPhail family has endured, but executing Troy Davis will not bring them justice. Please act quickly to grant Mr. Davis clemency.




Crossposted at Emily L. Hauser In My Head.

From what I can tell, Arnold & Porter has provided assistance to Mr. Davis in some capacity. An A&P lawyer signed one of the appeals. I don’t know how involved they are. I am going to try to get a friend of mine who does death penalty pro bono work to get involved. If anyone knows ANYTHING about this case, or about his legal representation, please email me at Yes, at this point I’m grasping at straws.

In any event, if you are a legal professional, a member of the clergy, or a resident of Georgia, please send a letter to the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles. The info is listed above.


UPDATE: This quote from the federal judge handling Mr. Davis’s case is chilling:

Moore answered one question posed to him by the U.S. Supreme Court. He found that executing an innocent person would violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban against cruel and unusual punishment.

“However, Mr. Davis is not innocent,” the U.S. district judge wrote in August.

(Big Daddy DougJ, I’m front-loading this post so it appears first on the front page for a while. I’m fairly certain you won’t mind. -ABL)

UPDATE: Edited to remove an action step that has since been deemed counter-productive.

44 replies
  1. 1

    First of all, thank you so much for posting this here, too. This case just has me beside myself with horror.

    As far as I know, Arnold and Porter carried through all the possible appeals, and there was an evidentiary hearing held a little over a year ago, in which the guilty verdict was upheld.

    Pretty much all anyone in the legal community can do at this point is to join the sign-on letter and support Mr. Davis’s bid for clemency. Here’s another link to that: http://takeaction.amnestyusa.o.....mJMLWPIJtE

  2. 2
    ABL says:

    I’m going to talk to my friend anyway. I’m really distressed about this.

  3. 3
    Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen says:

    This case is stomach turning. I’d always been on the fence when it comes to the death penalty and then I happened to start reading about cases such as this. Awful.

  4. 4
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    How can there be starvation in Somalia? The Free Market is fully in control there! Everyone should be fat and happy!

  5. 5
    Dennis SGMM says:

    Miscarriages of justice, particularly when they involve people of color, are a feature rather than a bug in Red states.
    If granting of food aid for Somalia, a noble and necessary gesture, is not accompanied by some means of assuring that the aid will go to starving Somalis rather than into the warehouses of local warlords then we’re pissing in the wind.

  6. 6

    @ABL: Oh, absolutely! Having as many members of the legal community as possible clamoring for justice to be done, in whatever way they clamor, can only be helpful.

  7. 7
    jo6pac says:

    Oh may be doj will look into this. Oh sure they come the never have to look back club. How sad

  8. 8
    FormerSwingVoter says:

    Meh. Does it matter?

    I’m being serious here. I’m going to write my letter, but if we win? He only spends his entire life in prison for something that he didn’t do. Oh joy.

    Until the witnesses who perjured themselves and the police who pressured them to do so are jailed for years, this will continue to happen every single time there’s an unsolved murder. The police do this all the time, and are never held accountable. “We can’t find who did this! Quick, grab a black guy and pressure a bunch of folks from his neighborhood to make shit up!” Often the police officers will go up on the stand and perjure themselves and never face any consequences whatsoever. And you never hear about it and never talk about it because they’re only completely destroying thousands of lives every year instead of sending those people to their deaths.

  9. 9
    ABL says:

    @FormerSwingVoter: My friend who I have contacted worked John Thompson’s death penalty case. Got the execution stayed AND the conviction overturned and he was awarded damages.

    Yeah, it’s a shit system, but sometimes good things can happen.

    ETA: The Supreme Court overturned the lower court’s damages award, but still… he lived and was freed.

  10. 10
    David Hunt says:

    I plan on doing my part in terms of sending letters this evening. I do have a question, however. Will letters from out-of-state have any effect?

  11. 11
    Mnemosyne says:


    I’m being serious here. I’m going to write my letter, but if we win? He only spends his entire life in prison for something that he didn’t do. Oh joy.

    So we should let him die because the ending wouldn’t be emotionally satisfying for you?

    Also, no one really thought that the West Memphis Three would ever be released from prison, and yet it happened thanks to the dedicated work of people who cared.

  12. 12
    ABL says:

    @David Hunt: i think it can’t hurt.


    in other news, i just spoke with my friend at Morgan Lewis in Philly. apparently thompson had multiple execution dates that were stayed before he was granted a new trial. still waiting to hear back from my friend at Arnold & Porter in DC.

  13. 13
    Dennis SGMM says:

    Simple question: has the DOJ or the cognizant US Attorney done anything here? Is it possible that an amicus brief could have been filed?

  14. 14
    ABL says:

    @Dennis SGMM: I don’t know. That’s info I’m hoping to get when I talk to my friend at A&P. :)

  15. 15
    Dennis SGMM says:

    That’s good to hear. For my part, I’d love to see the FBI brought into this case. I bitch about the FBI as much as any other hippy but they do have broad discretion and they are, from personal experience, the only federal agency that can scare the hell out of those crackers.

  16. 16
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    @Dennis SGMM:

    I’m sadly cynical enough that I wouldn’t be surprised if legal objections and outrage simply made Gov. Deal even more adamant about not extending a stay of execution..

    Please tell me that this is simply being too cynical rather than not enough. I mean, like someone said, the West Memphis Three case is a light of hope…but then again, they were white kids (yes, even more of my cynicism shining through).

  17. 17
    Elie says:

    Thank you ABL…

  18. 18
    Martin says:

    The good news is the governor of Georgia isn’t running for President, so they have no upside to killing an innocent man.

  19. 19
    rikryah says:

    There’s so much wrong in this. when you have this many questions about a case, give the man a retrial. if the evidence is strong, you’ll get another conviction.

    it is just wrong

  20. 20
    ABL says:

    Apparently he’s gotten three reprieves already. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I have no doubt that A&P is working their ass off. I’m just the sort of person who wants to know what’s going on and what can be done to help.

    Here’s an article about the drummer from Keane going to visit Troy Davis (which I found when I tried to customize a link and found that was already taken.)

  21. 21
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik:

    I don’t know if it’s possible to be cynical enough regarding justice versus people of color in some states. I’m now a Californian who who has “Lived among ’em” for years at a time. Despite the Civil Rights Act of 1964, many of these people are born and raised in an atmosphere of prejudice. For them, seeing an innocent black man hanged is small price to pay for keeping their worldview intact.

  22. 22

    @FormerSwingVoter: Seriously. Seriously?

    “Does it matter if this man lives or dies?”

    Yes. It matters. Ask his nephew:

  23. 23

    @David Hunt: I don’t know, which is why I threw in the line about “the United States.”

    But I do think that the one way such letters can for certain help is that no state likes to be viewed as the bad guy in other parts of the country — it’s like Americans writing to foreign dictators about their prisoners of conscience. If you get enough people complaining, the powers that be start to not want to look bad. Amnesty’s entire schtick is based, in essence, on that human truth.

  24. 24
    Arclite says:

    The Center For Science in the Public Interest called me the other day, explaining the FDA budget was going to be cut, and could the connect me with Senator Inoue’s office to let them know my thoughts on that. I said sure, and a few seconds later I was talking to Mr. Inoue’s staff.

    This seems to me a very effective way of lobbying congresspeople and I was wondering if anyone else had had a similar experience. Certainly the CSPI isn’t made of money, and other advocacy groups could use the same technique. Granted, there probably isn’t a Troy Davis advocacy group with the funds to do this, but I thought it was extremely effective.

  25. 25
    FormerSwingVoter says:

    @ABL: Thanks for that – it makes me more optimistic to see cases in which not only are the death sentences overturned, but the entire conviction.

    My cynicism (and poor writing) may have obscured my point earlier. The system needs to be reformed entirely. The problem isn’t the death penalty (or, more accurately, isn’t just the death penalty), but that thousands of innocents are convicted of crimes they never committed every year. And it’s because the police are never held accountable for the kind of shit that put this man on death row.

    Yes, Troy Davis should have his death sentence (and hopefully his entire conviction) overturned. But there are thousands of cases like this that people never hear about because they don’t involve the death penalty. How can we help them, too?

  26. 26
    FlipYrWhig says:

    You tell ’em, ABL! Sing it, sister! Best post ever!

    [looks around confusedly]

    I had heard that was what every ABL thread was like and was just trying to fit in!

    [covers face in shame]

  27. 27
    Makewi says:

    This will not be well received, and given the facts of the case I hope the execution is halted – but the update quotes the judge as stating that Troy is not an innocent man is correct. From a legal standpoint, one you would expect a judge to take, Troy was found guilty in a court of law – so he isn’t innocent.

  28. 28

    @Makewi: That’s exactly the point that the judge was making – from a legal standpoint, he hadn’t been found innocent.

    If you watch the video embedded above, though (it’s pretty short!), you’ll hear about how the judge failed to bring the right questions to bear on the hearing.

  29. 29
    Caz says:

    You didn’t specify whether we should support or oppose the agriculture spending bill. What’s in it, and should we support or oppose it, and why?

    I would think if the governor was aware of all these issued in Davis’s case, he would grant a stay of execution so they could be examined. He may not be innocent, but if he was convicted on shaky evidence, he deserves another look.

  30. 30
    ABL says:


    You didn’t specify whether we should support or oppose the agriculture spending bill. What’s in it, and should we support or oppose it, and why?

    i did specify in the linked post from yesterday. your response that all money should kept within our borders was noted and ignored for sheer callousness.

  31. 31
    Anne Laurie says:

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention, ABL. Seriously.

  32. 32
    ABL says:

    @FormerSwingVoter: i know. it’s really depressing. but i guess you just take it one case at a time. social media certainly helps a lot these days.

    i talked to my friend at Morgan Lewis about the john thompson case; it took them 10 years to free him. in that case they found evidence that the prosecution had suppressed, which made it easier.

    who knows what will happen, but i can’t do nothing, y’ know?

    i don’t know how you undo the damage of 20 years of incarceration, but getting a man off death row is a start. :)

  33. 33
  34. 34
    ABL says:

    A bit of good news: I tweeted this link to Greenwald. He says he plans to interview the lawyers and write about it. If there’s anyone who can take awareness of Troy’s case to another level, it’s Glenn.

    It’s great.

  35. 35
    KatinPhilly says:

    I usually lurk here, but thank you, thank you, ABL for bringing Troy’s case to Balloon Juice, and to Emily for writing it. I work with exonerated death row prisoners who speak around the country against this immoral stain on our country:

    I hope this post gets more traffic – the death penalty and its intersectionality with all that’s messed up in our society and in our foreign policy is too often on the back burner of liberal/progressive thinking and activism, and, in too many cases, even supported by folks on our side.

    As it is the ultimate human rights abuse in America, “attention must be paid.”

  36. 36
    KatinPhilly says:

    One more thing:

    @ABL: “Yes, Troy Davis should have his death sentence (and hopefully his entire conviction) overturned. But there are thousands of cases like this that people never hear about because they don’t involve the death penalty. How can we help them, too?” (too upset to block quote properly!)

    We can all donate to Innocence Projects in our states. Most states have them now. Just do the google for your state. Also, support re-entry programs like John Thompson’s (he is a member of our organization, and runs a great program in New Orleans,

    I am so proud to work with death row survivors working to correct the multitude of injustices in our criminal “justice” system. Please read their stories – this, too, is something you can do to help, so we may educate others.

  37. 37
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Letter sent.

  38. 38
    ellenelle says:

    abl, thank you so very much for highlighting troy davis’ case. wish more folks were following up on your plea. i’m spreading it around. again. for the umpteenth time.

    you’re a beacon, dearst; glad you’re out there.

  39. 39
    karen marie says:


    I would think if the governor was aware of all these issued in Davis’s case, he would grant a stay of execution so they could be examined.

    You mean like Perry was aware of issues with Willingham’s case before he was murdered by the State of Texas?

  40. 40
    square1 says:

    I am not absolutely opposed to the death penalty in principle. However, like Gov. Richardson, and Scott Turow, I have become convinced that as a society we are incapable of applying it fairly and without a significant risk of executing the innocent.

    That all aside, I am absolutely, 100%, convinced that Troy Davis is guilty.

    So, if you want to argue that Davis shouldn’t be executed because nobody should be, that is one thing. But anyone who is suggesting that the man is actually innocent has not looked fairly at the evidence.

  41. 41
    Debbie(aussie) says:

    It probably means nothing, but I have signed an Amnesty US petition to stop this. I wish him all the luck in the world! But if the GOP debate is any indication…….. too f*cking sad. AAGGGHHHHHH!

  42. 42
    dww44 says:

    @square1: I know this is late, but I am curious what is in the evidence that you’ve looked at that makes you positive Davis is guilty. As a Georgia resident, I’ve been aware of the ongoing struggles to free him, first, from the death penalty, and to secure a new trial. There does seem to be a prevailing view in this state that the man is guilty. I’d honestly like to know why there is this belief? What is the non-circumstantial evidence that he’s guilty?

  43. 43
    Mark Hide says:

    Why didn’t Davis testify at the special hearing that was arranged? Why was it that several of those who “recanted” didn’t testify at the special hearing even though they were present in the courtroom? Why did Officer MacPhail chase after Davis and not Red Coles? Why did Davis ask Coles for a change of clothing shortly after the murder? How did blood get on Davis’ shorts? Why did the defense argue (successfully at trial) that the shorts could not be admitted because the police did not obtain a proper search warrant? Who shot Cooper that same evening with the same gun used to shoot Officer MacPhail (Hint: Davis was also convicted of this crime)? Why did it take years for the recants tio begin to appear (One witness admitted that Davis’ mother pressured him into changing his testimony)? Davis is as guilty as OJ.

  44. 44
    Mark Hide says:

    Anyone who carefully reviews the facts in this case can only conclude that Davis is guilty. A number of judges have all reached the same conclusion. There is overwhelming evidence that was presented and convicted Davis. One judge rightly concluded that Davis’ defense was “largely smoke and mirrors.” He only chance is to admit his guilt and to ask the MacPhail family to petition the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole to spare his life. Many years ago, at sentencing, Davis pleaded, ” Give me a second cance. Spare my life. That’s all I ask.” That doesn’t sound like the plea of an innocent man to me.

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