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Scalia: No Mercy for Possibly Innocent

No empathy on the Supreme Court from Justice Antonin Scalia: “This court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent,” Justice Scalia wrote in a dissent from a Supreme Court decision ordering a Georgia court to review evidence in the case of death-row defendant Troy Davis. Seven of the witnesses from Davis’s 1989 trial have recanted and several others have fingered the prosecution’s main witness as the actual killer of the off-duty police officer whose death Davis was charged with. “The substantial risk of putting an innocent man to death,” Justice John Paul Stevens wrote, “clearly provides an adequate justification for holding an evidentiary hearing.”

August 18, 2009 2:18 AM