Texas Could Soon Rule Death Penalty Unconstitutional

State has unfair risk of wrongful conviction, lawyers will argue

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 2, 2010 8:58 AM CST

(Newser) – In Texas of all places, the death penalty could soon be declared unconstitutional. The state (which leads the US in number of executions since 1976, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice) has a disproportionately high number of wrongful convictions, attorneys will argue at a hearing Monday. Twelve people since 1976 have been exonerated from Texas' death row out of 139 across the nation, and a capital punishment expert tells the Huffington Post she will not be surprised if the judge rules the death penalty unconstitutional there.

The lawyers, defending a suspect charged with killing a woman during a 2008 armed robbery, will argue that the state has problems including bad forensic evidence, incompetent appeals lawyers, no safeguards against false eyewitness identification and false confession, and a history of racial discrimination when it comes to selecting juries. Despite a history of strong popular support for the death penalty, the director of an activist service believes that people would change their minds if they knew how bad the system was. Click here for more.

In this Tuesday, May 27, 2008 file photo, the gurney used to restrain condemned prisoners during the lethal injection process is shown in the Texas death house in Huntsville, Texas.
In this Tuesday, May 27, 2008 file photo, the gurney used to restrain condemned prisoners during the lethal injection process is shown in the Texas death house in Huntsville, Texas.   (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan, File)
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