Friday, March 26, 2010

Hank Skinner Case: Web Resources

In this day and age, when you can go online and read (almost) everything, there is no excuse for ignorance or apathy. Even when dealing with the seemingly sophisticated workings of the judicial system, anyone with a computer and a modem can read the briefs and decisions of a particular case, and thus become knowledgeable about all the details of the case and be able to form a well-supported opinion.

In the case of death row prisoner Hank Skinner (about whom I have written here and here), most of the court filings - which show the extent of this judicial travesty - are readily available to anyone who is willing to devote a few minutes to read them.

I have compiled some links and recommend that you browse them. After reading the briefs (or at least summaries prepared by lawyers and investigative journalists) you will be able to determine whether we have a system that strives to produce justice or a broken system designed to hide the terrible mistakes it sometimes makes, while erecting an impenetrable procedural wall that denies convicted defendants the opportunity to prove their innocence. Here is a non-exhaustive list of resources:

The procedural history of Skinner case (Attorney Mark Bennet)

Skinner's federal civil rights Complaint against District Attorney Lynn Switzer (Nov. 27, 2009; a Section 1983 lawsuit arguing that her refusal to allow him to test critical DNA evidence violates his constitutionally-protected life and liberty interests)

Decision of Judge Mary Lou Robinson, District Court, 31st Judicial District of Texas, Jan. 10, 2010 dismissing the Complaint (available at --> legal documents)

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision (Jan 28, 2010) - summarily denying the appeal from the District Court's decision.

Petition to the US Supreme Court for Writ of Certiorari + Application for Stay of Execution (Feb. 12, 2010) - available at --> legal documents

Docket Summary, Supreme Court (showing the Court had ample time to halt the execution and did not have to play a painfully cruel game with Skinner and wait until an hour before his scheduled execution to issue the order)

Supreme Court Stay of Execution (March 24, 2010, issued less than an hour before scheduled execution)

Excellent articles:

Isn't a Man's Life Worth an Extra 30 Days?
(Bob Ray Sanders, McClatchy Newspapers)

Thwarting Justice by Denying DNA Testing (Judge H. Lee Sarokin, Huffington Post)

Testing Phobia (Dave Lindroff, Counterpunch)

With DNA Still Untested, Texas Prisoner Hank Skinner Scheduled to Die Tonight (Liliana Segura, AlterNet)

Editorial: Hold up Skinner execution for DNA tests
(Dallas Morning News)

Death row inmate entitled to delay for DNA tests
(Austin American Statesman)

Blog Coverage of the Skinner Stay (The Standdown Texas Project)

Justices May Opt to Settle DNA issue (Allan Turner, Houston Chronicle)


Larry Ling Live (interview with Hank Skinner, wife Sandrine and Mr. Curtis, exonerated by DNA evidence)

(more links to be added soon)

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