Weekly Report from the Board Meeting at Holman Prison 6.8.16
We are very pleased to report that the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals reversed Jerry Smith's death sentence for the fourth time, finding that the sentence sought by Houston County District Attorney Doug Valeska was again unconstitutionally obtained. Jerry is represented by EJI. And so now our state will have to put up the money, which it doesn’t have, to resentence a man who with a well established I.Q. of 67 was never even eligible for a death sentence to begin with! But then Jerry is African American! We quote from EJI:
“EJI also argued that Mr. Valeska illegally barred African Americans from serving on the jury for Mr. Smith's fourth sentencing trial. Mr. Valeska removed every one of the 11 qualified African Americans from the jury. As a result, Mr. Smith, who is black, was tried by an all-white jury in a county whose population is 25 percent African American. The Court of Criminal Appeals did not address this issue in today's opinion because it reversed Mr. Smith's death sentence because his right to a public trial was violated.
On behalf of African Americans who were barred from serving on juries in Houston County, EJI filed a civil rights lawsuit contending that Mr. Valeska has illegally excluded qualified African Americans from serving on juries in serious felony cases, especially capital cases, for decades.”
On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court remanded the case of Alabama Death Row inmate Ronnie Kirksey back to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals for reconsideration of his appeal in light of the Hurst v. Florida decision in January. This is now the third Alabama case to receive action in light of the Hurst ruling.
It feels good to have our newsletter once more in the mail and up on our website and Facebook page and so this seems like the perfect opportunity to thank our Development Officer Brandon Fountain for the part he plays in making this happen. We would like to especially thank Brandon for staying on board even after his move to South Carolina. As we are an all volunteer organization it takes a special individual to remain steadfast to his commitment. Thank you Brandon!
See you next week!