On March 4, 2010 State District Judge Kevin Fine of Harris County, ruled that Article 37.071 of the Texas Code of Criminal Appeals, the state’s death penalty statute, was unconstitutional and thus could not be sought by prosecutors in the capital murder case against John Green. In Judge Fine’s ruling he held that innocent people had been executed in Texas.
On March 9, 2010 Judge Fine rescinded his ruling, instead asking both prosecution and defense to provide evidence on the possibility of an unconstitutional death penalty system in Texas on a hearing scheduled for April 27.
Although he has made no official statement, Judge Fine is said to have not changed his opinion on the possibility of innocent executions, but is establishing a more judicially standard approach to addressing the issue of constitutionality.
According to Mr. Green’s defense attorney Casey Keirnan, “For the first time in the state of Texas, or anywhere, we’re going to have a hearing about whether innocent people get executed…it’s the beginning of the end of the death penalty in Texas.”
A number of news sites offer various coverage and opinions on the issue, which can be found here:
“Texas judge rescinds anti-death penalty ruling“- Associated Press, March 10, 2010
“Houston judge backs off ruling that death penalty unconstitutional“- Houston Chronicle, March 9, 2010
“Texas Judge Rescinds His Own Order Over Constitutionality of Death Penalty“- Mary Alice Robbins for Law.com, March 10, 2010
“The Brief: March 10, 2010“- The Texas Tribune