Troy Davis in the Chatham County Superior Court during his trail in the shooting death of off-duty police officer Mark MacPhail. (AP Photo/Savannah Morning News)
This seems to have been an accurate summary of what we know. Davis wasn't executed because a prosecutor convinced a jury "beyond a reasonable doubt" that he had murdered someone. He was executed because, over a 20 year period, he was subjected to court proceedings that functioned like a slow-motion football replay, requiring him to show incontrovertible visual evidence that the original verdict was wrong -- only without a video tape. The decision of the original refs, no matter how biased, no matter how emotionally charged, no matter how much based on false or coerced testimony, no matter how unsupported, had to be confirmed because there was no tape.
But then, I didn't understand Bush's wars either and it was hard to see what made them attractive to many of my fellow citizens except that they answered some need to hit someone because we had been attacked on 9/11. About the death penalty as about the wars, all I can say is, "enough killing."
Andrew Cohen has reported on 100s of these cases for CBS. He knows what he thinks:
But he also decided, having watched these processes, that
Sure -- people act viciously. But we must demand more than mindless, often bigoted, revenge from our legal structures. We need collective institutions that intervene to mitigate our emotional responses to crimes. The law needs to make it easier for all of us to be good rather than stoking the fires than can overwhelm our better impulses. The death penalty too often does the opposite.