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JudgeFine.jpg
The Texas death penalty case of John Edward Green is getting a lot of press today.  That is not Green at the left, though, as you might think.  That is the judge, Kevin Fine.  (AP photo by Nick de la Torre)

According to this AP story by Juan Lozano, the prosecution has decided to "stand mute" while the defense side trashes the Texas death penalty with all the usual innocence claims.  Whether that is good strategy for their individual case I'm not sure.  I expect it will be bad public relations overall, though.  The cases they will make about Todd Willingham and Claude Jones are quite rebuttable, as we have described in this blog, but the rebuttal will not be there.

It is not hard to understand that the prosecution believes there is no way to get a fair hearing from Judge Fine and their only chance is on appeal.  This WSJ article by Ana Campoy notes, "The main impact the case will have in Texas and beyond may be on public opinion, which the defense hopes will help drive changes in the way the death penalty is applied."  In other words, it is a publicity stunt, and the publicity will be worse for lack of a rebuttal.

4 Comments

The state cannot responsibly stand mute simply to protest the fact that the judge is a partisan fool. This is still a case in court, and there will be a record going to the court of appeals.

It seems to me the state is being huffy, a choice it does not have. No matter how unfair the tribunal, you put on your case. It may be theater to "Judge" Fine, but it cannot be mere theater to the state, whatever the temptation to look on it that way.

I can only speak for myself, but I'd rather go down swinging than go down without a fight, particularly when the fight itself is such a righteous one.

I don't get the state's position on this one at all.

Totally agree with you Bill and notablogger. There is something to be said for not dignifying this charade and arguing to the appeals court that all of the evidence was simply irrelevant. But the ability to cross-examine people like Richard Dieter is simply too good to pass up.

Fine's game-playing is incredibly unseemly. The family members of the victim deserve more than this circus.

I agree with federalist (I never saw that one coming). If the state doesn't want to put on evidence then the Judge should have simply ruled for the defense and passed it up to the appeals court (who, if they agreed with the legal arguments would probably order an evidentiary hearing anyway). The trial only serves its function when there is an opposing argument with vigorous cross-examination of experts and witnesses. If those elements aren't present the whole thing is theater and the proceedings can't be relied upon to find the truth or administer justice. The same is true of a trial where a defense lawyer is ineffective, so I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't recognise the shortcomings in this situation as well.

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