Category Archives: Advocacy

Execution day – my personal experience

glossipWednesday September 16 was the day that Richard Glossip was to be put to death. I learned of Richard’s case in early January, created a Facebook page “Richard Glossip is Innocent” and it was featured by the wrongly convicted group on January 3rd.

In January, the execution was stayed while the US Supreme Court considered a challenge on the method of execution, but the challenge failed.

By September, support for Richard had grown immensely, largely due to the efforts of Sister Helen Prejean, especially after the case was discussed on Dr. Phil McGraw’s show on August 31st.

In addition, the pro bono legal team was making significant progress, showing that the prosecution case could not be true, identifying false testimony by the medical examiner in the second trial, and finding a witness who signed an affidavit stating that Sneed admitted to “setting Richard up”.

A petition calling for Governor Mary Fallin to issue a stay was signed by more than 230 thousand supporters, however she refused, so on September 15, the defense filed a last minute appeal.

Execution day seems a blur only one day later, all day I am conversing via Facebook with the other admins, family members and other advocates, posting tweets, comments in every place I can think of, but here are few things I recall.

I notice the New York Times report, post it on the Facebook page and post a comment on the article:

The State of Oklahoma has put it’s faith in the ever-changing story of the meth-addict confessed killer Justin Sneed, fed to him by police, coerced by the threat of a death sentence, and contradicted by a witness in the next room.

This is said to be proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Glossip asked Sneed to kill his boss.

How ridiculous, even obscene.

Today I checked back to see if it was published, omigosh, yes, it has 302 recommendations, more than any other comment, and is placed on the “NYT Picks” tab. I am chuffed.

By the middle of the day I feel a sense of despair waiting for the decision of the Court of Appeals. I am playing some soothing music, weeping as I watch twitter, scrolling through thousands of messages calling for the execution to be stopped. I add a few of my own.

Then I see a Facebook post… it says there is a stay. I post a quick comment to my fellow admins “I think a stay has been granted…” then rush off to twitter to check. YES. A huge sense of relief sweeps over me and I rush to post the tweets on the page. I can hardly believe it, even if I had a sense of hope that the Appeal Court would act.

It’s pandemonium, vast rejoicing everywhere. The post has over 600 likes, I have never seen anything like it. Time to post the news reports, and celebrate.

Finally later in the day, I see a post on the page of the Oklahoma Attorney General, he is still confident Richard will still be executed. I write a comment

“I strongly disagree. An unbiased witness with no reason to lie says that Sneed “Set Richard up”. That is sufficient evidence of innocence. Your “confidence” is badly misplaced. It’s time to listen to the nearly 300 thousand people who disagree with your position.”

then rush off to suggest others respond as well.

More chats, reading and liking comments on the page, adding a few of my own, then the day is over. With thousands of other supporters I feel a huge sense of relief. Richard Glossip is reported to have remained cheerful throughout the latest attempt by the State of Oklahoma to put him to death.

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Is the UK becoming the conscience of the US on Wrongful Convictions?

I have noticed that in a number of cases, public support for the wrongly convicted has been mustered by programs broadcast on UK television. One example is Robert Pruett, whose execution was called off at the last minute on April 28, another is Guy Heinze Jnr.

Of course 48 hours has a long history of bringing doubtful convictions to the public’s attention as well. I can recall immediately the cases of David Camm, Robert Fisher, Amanda Lewis, and I am sure there are many, many more, so I am not saying US television is not in this business as well.

I suppose support for Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito was easier to muster in the United States, where official pressure to suppress the truth could not be applied.

Perhaps the notorious wrongful conviction of Diane Downs could be more easily publicised on UK television.

Just thinking aloud here!

The Legal Burden

On the last day in January, Jindal was named editor-in-chief of the Duke Law Journal, which reviews and publishes new legal scholarship. The following Wednesday, she arrived at class a few minutes early and went to check her e-mail. There was a message from Newman, copied to everyone on the defense team. It began, “Tragically, we lost the McRae case….”

..

Despite their years of experience, Newman, Lau, and Coleman are not immune to grief in the face of setback. But Newman says she keeps a guard in place, a barrier that keeps her “from suffering to an incapacitating degree or even a limiting degree.” And when they do win, the same barrier holds her back from celebrating too much, because she knows she can never restore what her clients have lost.

An excellent article.