The Houston Chronicle reports, "Appeal filed for woman set become state's 500th executed killer." It's by Allan Turner.
Lawyers for a Dallas woman scheduled to become Texas' 500 execution since the death penalty was reinstated have filed an appeal, claiming blacks were improperly excluded from her jury and her previous attorneys did nothing about it.
Kimberly McCarthy, 52, an African-American woman convicted of murdering her 71-year-old Anglo neighbor during a 1997 robbery to raise money to buy drugs, is scheduled to be executed next Wednesday for the July 1997 murder of Dorothy Booth. She would be the 500th killer executed in Texas since executions were resumed in 1982, and the fourth woman to be executed by lethal injection.
In it she asserts that Dallas County prosecutors inappropriately eliminated three African-Americans from serving on McCarthy's jury. Only one black sat on the jury that sentenced her to death. Two of the three prosecutors, Levin charges, were trained under former Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade, a prosecutor whose three-decade tenure was criticized for discriminating against minorities.
The appeal cites a 2005 Dallas Morning News study that "being black was the most important trait affecting which jurors prosecutors rejected."
The appeal argues that McCarthy's trial lawyer was ineffective in not challenging the elimination of blacks, and that her first state appeals lawyer also was ineffective for not raising the issue.
"Appeal seeks halt to Texas woman's execution," is the AP filing, via KTRK-TV.
McCarthy's appeal, filed Tuesday to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, contends black jurors improperly were excluded from her trial by Dallas County prosecutors and her lawyers should have challenged the exclusions both at the trial and in early appeals. McCarthy is black; her victim white. Of the 12 jurors at her trial, one was not white.
Maurie Levin, a University of Texas law professor representing McCarthy, said the punishment should be stopped and McCarthy's case reviewed in light of a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision three weeks ago that backed another Texas prisoner who raised similar arguments about deficient legal help.
"I do think her case does present some of the topical issues of this decade," Levin said Wednesday, referring to a "pervasive influence of race in administration of the death penalty and the inadequacy of counsel -- a longstanding issue here."
The failings of McCarthy's earlier appellate help means no court ever has looked at McCarthy's claims, she said.
Jordan Smith writes, "Texas Poised to Hit 500th Execution," for the Austin Chronicle.
McCarthy was first slated to be executed in January, but that date with death was halted by a Dallas County judge in order to consider a claim that minority potential jurors were improperly struck by prosecutors from serving in McCarthy's trial (it was actually her second trial; her initial 1998 conviction was overturned after the courts found that the state improperly included into evidence a statement McCarthy made to police after she had "unambiguously" invoked her right to counsel). In a letter to Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, McCarthy's attorney Maurie Levin pointed out that at the time of McCarthy's trial racial discrimination "pervaded" the county's jury selection process. Levin also noted that Watkins had told The Dallas Morning News that he would advocate during the recently concluded 83rd Legislature for passage of the Texas Racial Justice Act, which would allow death row inmates to appeal based on claims that racism played a role in their conviction.
McCarthy's execution was postponed until April 3 and then again, to June 26, on Watkins' request, in order to afford the Legislature time to consider whether to pass a racial justice law – either Dallas Sen. Royce West's Senate Bill 1270 or Houston Rep. Senfronia Thompson's House Bill 2458. Neither bill was successful. Thompson's bill received a hearing in the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, but was not called up for a vote; West's measure wasn't even given a hearing. Those bills were fashioned after the landmark Racial Justice Act passed by North Carolina; in early June, the Republican-led legislature there repealed the RJA.
Nonetheless, litigation is expected to continue as McCarthy's date draws nearer. Indeed, an appeal filed June 18 again raises claims related to racial bias. A separate filed motion seeks also to recuse CCA Presiding Judge Sharon Keller and Judge Michael Keasler from considering McCarthy's appeals based on the fact that both judges once served as prosecutors in Dallas where McCarthy's case – and racial bias claims – originated.
"Texas poised to execute 500th prisoner as lawyers fight to save her life," is Guardian coverage by Ed Pilkington, reporting from New York.
Lawyers in Texas are fighting to save the life of a female prisoner scheduled to become the 500th person to be executed by the state since the death penalty was reinstated in America in 1976.
Barring a last-minute stay, Kimberly McCarthy, 52, will face lethal injection next Wednesday for the 1997 murder of her neighbour. Should the execution be carried out, she would be the 500th person put to death by Texas, a state that has shown more enthusiasm in modern times for capital punishment than any other.
The next seven days will be the culmination of an emotional and legal rollercoaster for McCarthy. This is her third appointment with the death chamber in the space of five months.
"She is a very spiritual person. She believes what's meant to be is meant to be, and it's all in God's hands," said Maurie Levin, McCarthy's legal counsel since January.
Now Levin has filed a new motion to stay execution with the Texas court of criminal appeals. The filing argues that McCarthy has suffered from two fundamental flaws that persistently crop up in death penalty cases.
The basis for the appeal is the Supreme Court's May ruling in Trevino v. Thaler, that an earlier high court ruling on standards for review of ineffective assistance of counsel claims applied in Texas cases. News coverage and commentary on Trevino begins at the link.