On Wednesday, Texas is scheduled to execute its 500th death-row inmate since the Supreme Court restored capital punishment in 1976. The state has executed nearly five times as many people as Virginia, the second state on the list.
Texas’s death penalty system is notorious for its high tolerance of ineffective counsel for defendants, overly zealous prosecutors, and racial discrimination in jury selection. The case of Kimberly McCarthy, the woman scheduled for execution, seems tainted by all three.
Ms. McCarthy is an African-American who was sentenced to death in 2002 for murdering a white woman. That’s not surprising: In Texas as well as other states, a black person who murders a white person is more likely to receive the death penalty than when the victim is black.
The 12-person jury that convicted and sentenced Ms. McCarthy included only one person who wasn’t white, after prosecutors used their peremptory, or automatic, challenges to strike three other non-whites. That was in apparent violation of a Supreme Court ruling against purposeful exclusion of minorities from a jury when a minority is the defendant.
The defense counsel did not challenge these apparently unconstitutional race-based strikes or request the kind of hearing for doing so that the Supreme Court allows. The lawyer did not raise the issue on appeal. A different counsel did not raise the issue in the defendant’s later challenge through a writ of habeas corpus.
Because of these failures, no court has ever reviewed the merits of Ms. McCarthy’s claims about racial discrimination.
"Request to stop Texas woman's execution denied," is the AP report, via KDFW-TV.
Texas' highest criminal court has denied a request to block a Dallas County woman's execution this week.
Kimberly McCarthy's execution would be the 500th in Texas since the state resumed carrying out the death penalty in 1982. She contends black jurors were improperly excluded from her trial by Dallas County prosecutors and this wasn't challenged by her lawyers.
But the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin denied McCarthy's request on Monday. The court said it didn't consider the merits of McCarthy's appeal because she should have raised her claims previously.
Maurie Levin, McCarthy's attorney, says she is "reviewing the order and considering our options."
Earlier coverage of Kimberly McCarthy's case, and the Texas execution milestone, begins at the link.