The latest on Troy Davis:
Earlier this evening, a commenter on my new piece at TheAtlantic.com called my attention to the fact that the Chatham County District Attorney’s office had just issued a press release saying the the Georgia state Superior Court, not the district attorney’s office, is the only body with jurisdiction in the execution and that “this matter is beyond our control.”
This frankly stank to me of the DA trying to duck the responsibility and political mess that this case entails, so I called my source within the campaign for clemency and had it confirmed: Larry Chisolm is trying to evade what is certainly going to be a terrible shitstorm, no matter what he does. But he still has the authority to ask that the Superior Court withdraw the death warrant against Davis, whether he wants to admit it or not.
And so, after not being able to get through to his office all day by phone, I wrote up a fax which I am now trying to send (oddly enough, the DA’s fax line is also very very busy!). Following is what I wrote – feel free to use it was a template, but make sure to make the letter your own — and also make sure to not focus on the question of Davis’s innocence, but rather on the enormous holes in the case (you’ll note that I even went so far as to bold, underline and slightly enlarge that line in my letter).
One last note: The article which reports the press release also reports that “Sister Jackie Griffith with Savannah for Clemency for Troy Davis, announced Tuesday evening her group would deliver 240,000 signatures on a petition to Chatham County District Attorney Larry Chisolm.” That is not meaningless.
District Attorney Larry Chisolm
Chatham County District Attorney’s office
September 20, 2011
Dear District Attorney Chisolm,
I write to you tonight regarding the case of Troy Davis. I am not a resident of Georgia, but I am an American, and this case reflects on our national justice system no less than on that of Georgia.
To be perfectly frank, I’m not concerned for the moment with guilt or innocence, but with evidence and reasonable doubt.
I understand that many within the Georgia court system have found that Davis is not innocent of the horrifying murder of Officer MacPhail 22 years ago.
And yet it cannot be denied that the case against Davis has largely fallen apart over the years, from witness recantation to evidence of police coercion, from a lack of physical evidence to the sheer weight of legal authorities who have themselves said that the case is too slim to support the death penalty.
I am not suggesting that the State of Georgia set Davis free – I am asking that you commute his sentence to life in prison.
If Georgia’s courts are right, Officer MacPhail’s murderer will have spent his life behind bars. But if they are wrong, they will have been spared the stain of killing an innocent man.
America is too big, too great, to have no room for questions. This case was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt – if Troy Davis is executed regardless, it will diminish us all.
Please ask the Superior Court, in whose hands I know rests the final authority, to have the death warrant against Troy Davis withdrawn.