Texas is set to carry out its eighth execution of 2014, tonight in Huntsville, as new questions emerge in the case of Robert Campbell. It would be the 516th post-Furman Texas execution since 1982, and the 277th execution under the administration of Gov. Rick Perry. Texas is responsible for more than 37% of the nation's post-Furman executions.
There have been 20 executions in American death penalty states this year; a total of 1,379 post-Furman executions since 1977.
According to TDCJ, Texas state district courts have set four additional execution dates.
There is extensive press coverage.
Andrew Cohen writes, "In Texas, another execution, another miscarriage of justice."
While Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) continues to boost his national political ambitions by boasting about Texas' track record on the death penalty, state officials there are poised later today to execute an intellectually disabled man — a convicted murderer whose prosecutors failed to disclose key evidence of his disability for over a decade.
If the execution of Robert James Campbell proceeds as planned tonight, it won't just mean that Texas hid from view the results of long-ago cognitive testing that suggests the condemned man has been intellectually disabled his whole life. It also will mean that the state's judges, recently alerted to the delayed disclosure of this evidence, did nothing to remedy it. This is lawlessness disguised as law.
The latest AP report is, "Federal court rejects Texas death row inmate's appeal citing botched Oklahoma execution," by Michael Graczyk, via the Tribune.
A convicted murderer set for execution in Texas on Tuesday has his hopes pinned on two appeals, including one challenging the state's plan to use a drug for which it will not reveal a source — as was the case with drugs used in a botched execution in Oklahoma two weeks ago.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals late Monday rejected an appeal on the drug secrecy issue, saying mere speculation wasn't enough to prove claims Campbell could be subjected to unconstitutionally cruel pain if executed with drugs from Texas' unidentified provider.
Another appeal before the 5th Circuit contends Campbell isn't mentally competent for execution because he has a 69 IQ. Courts generally set a 70 IQ as the minimum threshold. Campbell's attorneys filed a petition to the Supreme Court even before the 5th Circuit ruled on that issue.
Mother Jones posts, "Will Rick Perry Execute A Mentally Disabled Man Tonight?" by Stephanie Mencimer.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has presided over more executions than any other governor in American history. He's ignored pleas for clemency for people who committed crimes as juveniles, who were mentally disabled, or who were obvious victims of systemic racism. He even signed off on the execution of a likely innocent man. So the odds don't seem good for Robert Campbell, a man set to be executed in Texas tonight. This is despite the fact that new evidence has surfaced showing that the state withheld information documenting an intellectual disability that should make him ineligible for the death penalty.
"Confronted on Execution, Texas Proudly Says It Kills Efficiently," is by Manny Fernandez and John Schwartz for the New York Times. This is a lengthy article examining several issues.
More than any other place in the United States, Huntsville is the capital of capital punishment. All of the 515 men and women Texas has executed since 1982 by lethal injection and all of the 361 inmates it electrocuted from 1924 to 1964 were killed here in the same prison in the same town, at the red-brick Walls Unit. Texas accounts for nearly 40 percent of the nation’s executions.
So many people have been put to death and so often — in January 2000, seven people were executed in 15 days — that people here take little notice.
“Texas’s death chamber is a well-honed machine,” said Robert Perkinson, the author of “Texas Tough: The Rise of America’s Prison Empire,” a critical history of the Texas prison system.
David R. Dow, a law professor at the University of Houston who has represented more than 100 death row inmates during their appeals, explained the state’s record of seeming success simply. “When you do something a lot, you get good at it,” he said, adding archly, “I think Texas probably does it as well as Iran.”
The Arc of Texas, which advocates for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, has called on the Board of Pardons and Paroles and Gov. Rick Perry to commute Robert Campbell's death sentence.
Because it has a specific meaning with respect to capital cases, I continue to use the older term on the website. More on Atkins v. Virginia, the Supreme Court's 2002 ruling banning the execution of those with mental retardation, is via Oyez.