A new editorial from the Dallas Morning News, “Getting It Right” (May 10, 2014), calls on the federal courts and Texas Governor Rick Perry to stop the execution of Robert Campbell, which is scheduled to occur on May 13, 2014. The editorial notes that many of the reform recommendations cited last week in a new report from The Constitution Project apply directly in Campbell’s case, namely the right to competent legal counsel and the need for improved safeguards against executing people with intellectual or mental deficiencies. Here’s an excerpt from the editorial:
Had these provisions already been in Texas law, it’s doubtful that Robert James Campbell, 41, would be scheduled for execution in Huntsville on Tuesday. Convicted of the 1991 rape-murder of Houston bank teller Alexandra Rendon, 20, Campbell is set to die despite records indicating intellectual limitations that would render him ineligible, and despite lawyers who failed him at trial and in initial appeals.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected a stay in his case last week, but a dissent by four of the nine judges objected that courts have yet to weigh school records and IQ tests that prosecutors and prison officials hadn’t turned over to the defense. Those records indicate “prima facie evidence of mental retardation,” the dissent said. The court majority, however, leaned on procedure in rejecting a review of the claims.
Campbell’s attorneys assert that prison officials “lied” in saying Campbell hadn’t been given an IQ test on death row; the appeals court’s dissent was charitable about that, calling it “misinformation.” Either way, it’s an outrage that the state is set to take a life when it is culpable in stacking the deck.
It would offend the sense of justice if Gov. Rick Perry or federal appeals courts allowed this execution to proceed.