Back in 2006, I did a two-day series on embarrassingly bad legal representation provided by court-appointed appellate lawyers for death row inmates.
One of those lawyers, Richard Alley, is back in the news as attorneys for Bobby Wayne Woods — slated for a Thursday execution — are seeking to delay the lethal injection based in part on Alley’s “blatantly incompetent” representation. (Read the Alley story here.)
Woods’ new lawyer, University of Texas adjunct law professor Maurie Levin, argues that Woods cannot be executed because he is mentally disabled — a practice banned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2002.
“As soon as you meet him, you know he’s mentally retarded,” Levin says.
(To see Woods and judge for yourself, click here for the Texas Observer’s videos of an interview with the inmate.)
Accusing Alley of failing to fully and properly plead the inmate’s mental disability case in state and federal appeals, Levin is asking the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to recommend a 60-day reprieve so members can judge for themselves whether Woods is mentally competent for execution.
“(Alley) has been suspended by the state bar and rebuked by and suspended from practice in the federal courts for his egregious missteps and incompetence as an appellate and post-conviction attorney for those condemned to death,” reads a petition for clemency to the parole board.
“Not surprisingly, that attorney committed numerous grave errors that hamstrung Mr. Woods’ chances for relief,” the petition states.
As linked above, you can read Chuck Lindell's December 2006 series on abysmal performance by court-appointed habeas lawyers, "Writs gone bad." Here's a snippet:
Richard Alley, a Fort Worth lawyer suspended for one year from practicing before his hometown federal court for repeated unprofessional and unethical behavior. A U.S. judge also removed Alley from a federal death row case, questioning his competence in habeas matters.
Earlier coverage begins with this post.