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Another Bogus Argument Against Prop. 66

Prop66.jpgBob Egelko has this article in the SF Chron on the California death penalty initiatives.  The story includes this gem regarding the reform initiative, Proposition 66:

"It's modeled after the laws in Texas, where we know innocent people have been executed," said Elisabeth Semel, director of the Death Penalty Clinic at UC Berkeley Law School. Death penalty supporters heatedly dispute that claim, but Semel cited the Texas case of Cameron Todd Willingham, executed in 2004 for killing his three children in a fire that a series of experts, including one hired by the state, have since concluded was most likely accidental.
One might read that paragraph to say that supporters dispute the claim that Texas has executed innocent people but concede the claim that the initiative "is modeled after the laws of Texas."  Not so.

Unlike Ms. Semel, I actually know the answer.  I wrote the draft of the procedural reform provisions of the initiative, and I participated in the meetings where the draft was revised.  Not once did I refer to or even think of the laws of Texas in drafting the reform.  Not once did anyone in the committee meetings ever refer to Texas as a model for the initiative.

The system that would be established by the final product bears little resemblance to Texas CCP Article 11.071.  It resembles much more the federal system of 28 U.S.C. ยง2255.  Ms. Semel just made it up.

We have discussed Willingham before on this blog, so I won't rehash it here.

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