Weekly Report from the Board Meeting at Holman Prison 6.22.16
The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals ordered a trial court to allow prosecutors to proceed with death penalty trials against four black men and upheld the validity of the state’s death penalty despite a January decision of the U.S. Supreme Court Florida Hurst ruling. The trial court judge, Jefferson County Circuit Judge Tracie Todd, had found the state’s death penalty statute unconstitutional in March and, as such, barred prosecutors from seeking the death penalty in four men’s murder trials. While this order is disappointing it is hardly unexpected.
On the up side we were delighted with the scathing article “The Death Penalty Case Where Prosecutors Wrote the Judge's 'Opinion' by the Marshall Project. It addresses Alabama justice in general and the case of Doyle Lee Hamm in particular that one hopes will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. We quote: “This shouldn’t be a tough call for the Supreme Court. The case presents a straightforward opportunity to send a clear message to lower court judges: whatever else due process means, whatever else federal habeas corpus rules mean, they require a judge to at least pretend to carefully consider the evidence before rendering judgment in a capital case.”
More good news is that for the fourth time in two months, the United States Supreme Court overturned an Alabama death penalty case in which EJI challenged the conviction and sentence affirmed by state courts. This time, the Court reversed because of concerns about racial bias in jury selection. Christopher Floyd had an all white jury in Houston County with Doug Valeska as the prosecutor!
On Thursday we attended the Alabama Arise celebration for Kimble Forrister who has led that organization for 25 years. It was of great importance to us to attend in order to be able to express our appreciation and gratitude for the great work and leadership demonstrated by Kimble and his co-workers in the area of Alabama poverty issues, including the death penalty. Thank you and congratulations!
Thank you also to our good friends at the SouthEast Alabama Gazette for their long standing support and for publishing our recent Weekly Board meeting report regarding D.A. Valeska. We believe it is noteworthy to mention that Mr. Hillard Hamm, the owner of this bi-weekly newspaper, is a murder victim’s family member. We value your support and friendship!