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Texas Court of Appeals Halts Willingham Circus

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AP reports

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- A state appeals court halted a hearing Thursday that was to determine whether Texas wrongfully executed a man based on faulty arson evidence.

The court granted an emergency stay and ordered District Judge Charlie Baird not to rule on the case. The order gives Innocence Project lawyers seeking to clear Cameron Todd Willingham's name until Oct. 22 to respond.

John Schwartz has this article in the NYT on the hearing prior to the stay.

Text of the order follows the jump. PDF version is here.
NO. 03-10-00689-CV
In re R. Lowell Thompson

     Relator's emergency motion for immediate stay is granted. Respondent, the Honorable Charlie Baird, Judge of the 299th District Court of Travis County, Texas, is ordered to make no further orders and take no further action in Cause No. D-1-DC-10-100069, In re: Cameron Todd Willingham, until further order of this Court.

     The Real Parties in Interest are ordered to file any further response to Relator's Petition for Writ of Mandamus and Emergency Motion for Immediate Stay by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, October 22, 2010.

It is so ordered October 14, 2010.
J. Woodfin Jones, Chief Justice
Before Chief Justice Jones, Justices Puryear and Pemberton

1 Comment

Can you even imagine what the NYT would be saying if the retentionist side pulled a stunt like this? That is, suppose a murder victim's family demanded, and got, a "court of inquiry" to declare that every convict executed in Texas for the last 100 years was guilty beyond any doubt. The judge before whom the motion was made would have been given an award for "Courageous Retentionist of the Year" by the Guilt Project and was known through his public statements to be an unyielding supporter of the death penalty.

Contrary to the express terms of statutory law, he would take the case himself, deny a motion for recusal on grounds of an appearance of bias, and start hearing evidence from Dudley Sharp (who at least has the advantage of being knowledgeable and truthful).

Do you think the NYT might have had a story on that?

It's a measure, not so much of the disingenuousness of so much of the abolitionist movement, but its knowledge of the weakness of its own case, if fairly presented, that it has to find a zealot dressed (temporarily) in a black robe to "hear" the "evidence." Why didn't they just hold a "hearing" before Stephen Bright? At least he doesn't pretend to have judicial neutrality.

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