In this edition:
Scheduled executions: Texas Court of Criminal Appeals grants stay to Charles Flores
In case you missed it: U.S. Supreme Court rebukes prosecutors for racial discrimination; Pfizer bans use of its products in lethal injections
Death penalty developments: United Methodists address death penalty at upcoming conferences
Featured events: Join us for a special membership gathering in San Antonio
Changes to www.tcadp.org: Check out our new look!
Quote of the month
“… people trust us. In exchange for that, we can never use our powers to cause harm.”
-Dr. Jonathan Groner, from “Doing Harm: Medical Professionals and the Death Penalty” (Truthout, May 17, 2016)
The State of Texas is scheduled to carry out one execution this month:
On June 21, Robert Roberson is scheduled to be put to death for the 2002 murder of his two-year-old daughter in Anderson County. Last year, he sought new attorneys, citing ineffective assistance of counsel, but the U.S. Supreme Court denied his appeal. The denial came shortly after Justice Sonia Sotomayor admonished the same attorneys for their “abandonment” of client Raphael Holiday, who was executed on November 18, 2015. Roberson’s attorneys are currently seeking clemency from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. Read more about the mental health issues in his case from the Texas Tribune.
On Friday, May 27, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) granted a stay of execution to Charles Flores, who was scheduled to be put to death on June 2 for the 1998 murder of Elizabeth Black in Farmers Branch. His conviction hinged largely on an eyewitness whom police hypnotized and whose testimony placed him at the crime scene. The CCA is sending the case back to the trial court to examine the use of hypnosis. Flores is one of 107 people sentenced to death in Dallas County. Read more.
The State of Texas has put six people to death in 2016. There have been 14 executions nationwide. At this time, there are eight additional executions scheduled to take place in Texas through October 2016. Texas juries have imposed two death sentences to date this year – one in Webb County and one in Kaufman County.
In case you missed it
Supreme Court rebukes prosecutors for keeping African Americans off jury
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court held 7-1 in the case of Foster v. Chatman that prosecutors in Georgia intentionally discriminated in striking all African American prospective jurors from serving in Timothy Foster’s 1987 capital trial. According to Stephen Bright, Counsel of Record for Mr. Foster, prosecutors gave false reasons for their strikes when the real reason was race. In doing so, the Justices found they had violated the Constitution. Read more from the New York Times.
Pfizer bans use of its products in lethal injections
In mid-May, the pharmaceutical powerhouse Pfizer banned the use of its products in lethal injections. Although the company was never responsible for the creation of these drugs, it recently acquired Hospira Inc., which manufactured several drugs used in executions.
Some states will be affected by this ban, but Texas is not one of them. According to Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) spokesperson Jason Clark, “It’s not anticipated that Pfizer’s decision will have an impact on the agency’s current ability to carry out executions.” This ban may not pause Texas executions, but it has highlighted states’ subversive practice of acquiring execution drugs. In what seems more like a back alley deal than a government acquisition, Texas continues to find suppliers with state-protected anonymity. Read more from The Intercept and New Yorker.
An appeals court in Austin recently heard arguments in a civil lawsuit filed by several attorneys seeking to reveal the identity of lethal injection drug suppliers in Texas. In December 2014, a state district judge ruled in favor of the attorneys but TDCJ appealed. Read more.
Death penalty developments
United Methodists standing against the death penalty
One of my first experiences working and organizing with TCADP was to obtain signatures for TCADP’s Interfaith Statement of Opposition to the Death Penalty in 2014 at the North Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. It was extremely powerful to be able to share why I felt the death penalty needed to be abolished and that people of faith played a pivotal role in the movement. We collected many signatures and passed a resolution to support TCADP and stand against the death penalty. In 2015, a similar resolution was submitted and passed at the Texas Annual Conference, due in large part to some amazing work by TCADP Board Member Rev. Susan Buchanan.
This year, United Methodists in the Rio Texas Conference, Northwest Texas Conference, and Central Texas Conference have submitted resolutions on the death penalty, as well. These United Methodists are committed and active members of TCADP who are bridging the gap and standing for justice. If you’re planning to attend one of these conferences, drop me at line at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to connect with you. – Jason Redick, TCADP North Texas Outreach Coordinator
TCADP members will host an information table at the Houston Pride Celebration on Saturday, June 25th. The celebration is centered around Houston’s City Hall (901 Bagby Street). For more information, please contact Nancy Bailey at email@example.com.
TCADP will host a member reception on Thursday, June 16th at Blue Star Brewing Company (1414 South Alamo #105) from 6:00PM to 8:00 PM. TCADP staff will be in town for the 2016 Texas Democratic Convention (June 16-18 at the Alamodome), where we will have an information booth. Join us for an evening of fellowship with other local supporters, TCADP staff and Board Members, and members from other parts of the state who will be attending the Convention. All are welcome. For more information and to RSVP, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
New look for TCADP website
TCADP.org has a new look! Be sure to check out our updated website and keep an eye out for more exciting changes to come. We’re always happy to receive your feedback, so let us know what you think of the new look. Contact Vanessa at email@example.com.