British woman on Texas death row loses appeal
Condemned Texas inmate Linda Carty has lost a federal appeal, moving her
closer to execution over the abduction and death of a woman whose child
she also had snatched in Houston in 2001.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a ruling late Thursday, rejected
arguments from the 50-year-old Carty that her trial lawyers were deficient
and that she still had appeals issues she should be able to raise in state
Carty is 1 of 10 women on death row in Texas. She is a former teacher from
St. Kitts in the British Virgin Islands, where she was born, making her a
Just last week, a taped voice recording of Carty begging Britons to help
save her life was broadcast into London's Trafalgar Square.
(source: Associated Press)
Ruling in Hood case degrades court system
Texas' highest criminal court's latest dismaying ruling in the scandalous
Charles Dean Hood murder case can be interpreted with five words:
"Anything goes in Texas justice."
The ruling somehow manages to waltz past the fact that Collin County's
trial judge in the capital murder case had been cavorting in bed with the
district attorney. Instead, the split decision by the Texas Court of
Criminal Appeals turned on a procedural issue in letting the death penalty
verdict stand against Hood.
The clearly compromised impartiality of the trial judge, Verla Sue
Holland, thus is rendered legally beside the point, in contravention of
the Texas Constitution.
This is not a plea to save the life of a man who may be innocent of the
charges against him. Indeed, the state produced overwhelming evidence
against Hood in the cold robbery and murder of Ronald Williamson and
Tracie Lynn Wallace in Plano.
Rather, the issue is the integrity of the Texas court system and the
appeals court's interest in flushing out the stench of corrupted justice.
Sadly, the court has proved itself unwilling.
Hood was hours away from execution in June 2008 as judges in McKinney and
Austin played hot potato with newly presented assertions about a secret
tryst. Prosecutors argued that there had been ample time to complain about
an affair, if there was one.
State District Judge Greg Brewer thought it was important to find out if
there had been, and he ordered Judge Holland and former District Attorney
Tom O'Connell to cop to the truth. It was ugly. The couple admitted under
oath that they had indeed concealed a past intimate relationship at the
time of the 1990 trial, in which he argued before her in open court.
Judge Brewer was rightfully disturbed and concluded later that the state's
"hands are unclean" and that Hood should be able to pursue the complaint
about compromised justice.
In an affront to the sense of fair play, the appeals court bought the
argument that it was too late to bring up the affair. If there's any cause
for optimism, we find it in the fact that 3 of the 9 judges disagreed with
the majority and would have allowed the complaint to be considered.
A trial involving a nasty little secret between judge and prosecutor
cannot produce justice. It's a stacked deck. The Texas Constitution
guarantees fairness out of Texas courts, and it's a travesty that the
state's highest criminal court doesn't see it. **
Prosecutors argue that the defense attorneys brought up the unfair-trial
argument too late. But 3 justices did not buy that argument. An excerpt
from their opinion:
"Here, it is clear that applicant's trial attorneys were aware, before the
1990 trial, of the 'common knowledge' rumors and gossip concerning the
personal relationship, but is seems equally clear from the habeas record
that applicant's attorneys did not know whether those rumors were true,
either at the time of the trial or at hte time that applicant filed his
earlier habeas applications."
(source: Editorial, Dallas Morning News)