TCADP November 2018 Alert: An imperfect system

In this edition:

Scheduled executions: Mexican national set to be executed despite violation of international convention

In case you missed it: El Paso Judge recommends new trial in death penalty case involving outdated science and false testimony; former District Attorney Tim Cole takes “imperfect system” to task; fewer Americans believe the death penalty is applied fairly

Featured events: Special film screening in Houston; “Cities for Life” events in Austin and El Paso

Support TCADP: Shop on AmazonSmile; purchase a stylish TCADP t-shirt; include our organization in your year-end giving


Quote of the month
“…where a system exists permeated with arbitrary decision-making, random imposition of the death penalty, unreliability, geographic rarity, and excessive delays, such a system cannot constitutionally stand. The combination of these flaws in the system support our conclusion that the death penalty is unconstitutional.”
– Washington State Supreme Court

In a unanimous opinion, issued on October 11, 2018, the justices struck down Washington’s death penalty statute and commuted the sentences of the state’s eight death row inmates to life in prison without release.  In doing so, Washington became the 20th state to outlaw the death penalty.


Scheduled executions
The State of Texas is scheduled to execute Robert Moreno Ramos on November 14, 2018.  He was convicted of killing his wife and two youngest children in 1992 in Hidalgo County.  In violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, Ramos was not notified of his right, as a Mexican national, to contact consular officials upon arrest.  His trial attorneys provided inadequate legal representation and failed to present important mitigating evidence to jurors.  Human Rights Watch has appealed to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Greg Abbott to grant clemency to Ramos, based on these factors.

The State of Texas has executed 10 people to date in 2018, accounting for more than half of the 19 executions nationwide. Three individuals scheduled for execution this fall received stays or had their dates withdrawn; all three cases originated in Tarrant County and involved issues related to intellectual disabilities, DNA testing, or incompetency to be executed.  There are two executions scheduled for December.

Attend a vigil in your community on the day of executions.  Information and updates on cases are available on our website and through Facebook and Twitter.


In case you missed it
El Paso Judge recommends new trial in death penalty case involving outdated science and false testimony

On October 9, 41st District Court Judge Annabell Perez of El Paso recommended thatRigoberto (“Robert”) Avila receive a new trial under art. 11.073 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.  Art. 11.073 was adopted with overwhelming bipartisan support by the Texas Legislature in 2013 to provide a remedy for people who were convicted based on false or outdated science. Avila’s case is the first involving a death-sentenced defendant to receive a favorable recommendation from a district court under the new statute.

Avila has been on death row since 2001. Newly available scientific evidence casts serious doubt on the jury’s verdict and supports his consistent claim of innocence. His case now moves back to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which will decide whether to accept Judge Perez’s recommendation.

“It’s wrong for an imperfect system to impose an irreversible punishment.”
In a powerful opinion piece published on October 15 by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, former District Attorney Tim Cole expresses disappointment with continued use of the death penalty in Dallas and Tarrant Counties. He notes that “As the death penalty decreases in popularity and use, district attorneys owe it to their constituents to consider the questions surrounding the death penalty before proceeding to seek a sentence that many believe has been administered unfairly in the past.”

Fewer Americans believe the death penalty is applied fairly
According to a new Gallup poll on the death penalty, which was released on October 22, the percentage of Americans who believe the death penalty is applied fairly continues to decrease, falling below 50% this year for the first time. Overall support for the death penalty remains near historic low levels.  Read analysis from theHouston Chronicle.


Featured events
Early voting in Texas continues through Friday, November 2, and Tuesday, November 6 is Election Day!  Please exercise this most important civic duty and civil right.

On Thursday, November 15, the European Union, the German Consulate General Houston, and TCADP will host a special screening of the documentary film, “True Conviction,” followed by a panel discussion featuring Dallas County exonerees, Christopher Scott and Steven Phillips. This event will take place at theUniversity of Houston-Downtown (UHD) from 7:00 to 9:00 PM in the Wilhelmina Cullen Robertson Auditorium (A350) (One Main Street, Houston, TX 77002). RSVP here.

Groups in Austin and El Paso will hold events at the end of the month in solidarity with Cities for Life, Cities Against the Death Penalty, a worldwide action to celebrate life and call for abolition of the death penalty:

– The Fifth Annual Lighting of the Star on the Mountain in El Paso will take place on Thursday, November 29 from 6:00-7:00 PM in the parking lot of the Center for Careers & Technology (1170 N. Walnut Street).  The event is hosted by the Restorative Justice Ministry of the El Paso Diocese and El Pasoans Against the Death Penalty. Bring a chair and a candle. For more information, contact Pat Delgado at phdelgado@hotmail.com.

 Pax Christi Austin and Friends Meeting of Austin will gather on Friday, November 30at 6:30 PM on 11th Street in front of the State Capitol. It will be a prayerful gathering, lifting up those who have died violently and those who have been executed in the past year, and offering prayer for abolition of the death penalty.

The TCADP 2019 Annual Conference will take place on Saturday, February 16, 2019 at St. David’s Episcopal Church in downtown, Austin.  Learn more about this exciting, one-day event and register today!


Support TCADP while you shop!

There are many ways for you to support TCADP this month:

– Today and tomorrow (November 1 and 2), AmazonSmile is donating 5% (ten times the usual amount) to TCADP when you shop at smile.amazon.com/ch/76-0618574. #AmazonSmile

– Give the gift of abolition! TCADP t-shirts are now available through GoodInk, including a women’s cut, ¾ sleeves, and long sleeves.  Place your holiday order now, and GoodInk will ship directly to you by mid-December. Spread the word and help us increase awareness that the death penalty’s days are numbered, even in Texas!

– #GivingTuesday is November 27.  Get a jump on your year-end giving by donating to TCADP!