One thing that will go unmentioned in all this is that one of Troy Davis’ maneuvers over the 20+ years it has been going on was to bring an “original” habeas corpus petition in the SCOTUS, and the SCOTUS didn’t just summarily deny it; they sent it to a District Court, which of course is located back in Georgia and is therefore not equipped to seriously consider evidence that is so adamantly and collectively opposed by the law enforcement establishment there. It was the first time SCOTUS had done that in almost 50 years. The last time they out and out granted an “original” habeas corpus petition was…1925.
I think this denial of relief by the Georgia Parole Board is the last thing here. Unless there’s something else I don’t know about, Troy Davis will be executed tomorrow. A lot of people fought long and hard to spare him, and in the end they lose. This is the usual outcome.
I want to touch on just why this is the usual outcome, because it is one of the most important things about this and one of the least commented on.
You’ve got the two opposing camps: there’s the camp that opposes executing Troy Davis and there’s the camp that favors it. The latter camp has the unequivocal and unwavering collective support of law enforcement. They have dug in their heels on this one and everyone knows it.
The we-don’t-want-Troy-Davis-killed-camp has done a very good job of raising all kinds of doubts about Troy Davis’ guilt. I don’t think anyone disputes that at this point. Scott Greenfield seems to believe that what drives all this is that there has been an official finding of guilt before, so the burden of proof has shifted, and raising doubts after the guilty verdict is not enough.
Neither one of these things has anything to do with it.
Whether before or after the guilty verdict, the two ostensibly opposing camps are basically not engaged in the same endeavor at all. They’re not really opposing camps. They’re not playing the same game on the same field.
The law enforcement camp doesn’t really care whether Davis is guilty or innocent, so it’s pointless to keep raising that as if it’s an issue. It’s irrelevant to them. The only thing that matters to them is that the “system” must do their will. They are its owners. Deviation from the party line is not permitted. Defiance will be punished. Troy Davis should have learned that lesson a long time ago, and he will pay with his life for not learning it. And it doesn’t matter whether he actually killed that cop in 1989 or not. That’s not why he is being executed. Not really.
And the same applies to any other player in the saga, including the judges and the parole board and anyone else. Defiance will be punished. They might not strap you to a gurney and poison you, but you will be punished.
This is about who has power, and nothing else. And the police have power. And they mean to keep it. From their perspective this is the only “principle” involved. In fact, as a particularly power oriented individual once told me, imposing one’s will arbitrarily is a more exquisite demonstration of power because it is a more pure illustration of it: in addition to prevailing you are also showing that you answer to no one and nothing, not even elementary reason.
Power isn’t all it’s cracked up to be if reason or truth can trump it.
So that’s what this is about. In that sense, it couldn’t be more important that Troy Davis not be executed. And it says a lot about us, and what we have become, that he will be.
Update: But then there’s this. It’s still not the point, but I wonder about the prosecutor who wrote that, and where he gets ideas like this:
This is the same Coles who promptly presented himself to police, and who was advised by counsel to tell all that he knew — with his lawyer not even present. Which he did. No lawyer who even faintly suspects a client of criminal conduct would let him talk to the police without counsel.
With allowances that the police love it when everyone “promptly presents” themselves to them, the writer is way, way off when he makes the inference about Coles’ supposed innocence because his lawyer told him he could talk to police without him being present. Not only does this not mean that Coles is innocent, it doesn’t even mean that Coles’ lawyer thought he was innocent, any more than a lawyer telling his client not to talk to the police means that the client is guilty or even that the lawyer thinks the client is guilty, or thinks that he may be.