"Another incredible case, courtesy of Texas' shaky legal system," is Scott Martelle's post at the Los Angeles Times Opinion LA blog.
Which is one of the other issues: This is an abject failure of the Texas legal system (again), and as the Dallas Morning News recently said, is “a case to rattle anyone's confidence.” So much time has passed, though, that there likely isn’t anyone left to be held accountable — prosecutors or defense lawyers — for letting the case slide.
So why was Hartfield allowed to languish? A mix of reasons. Without the death penalty hanging over his head, his lawyers sat back to wait for the state to push for a new trial. But that never came, and as time passed, the case fell through the cracks.
And why didn’t Hartfield insist he be released? Because, with an IQ in the low 50s, he didn’t understand what was happening. The dropped case didn’t come to light until 2006, when a fellow inmate pointed out to Hartfield that he shouldn’t be in prison because he was not convicted of a crime. New lawyers for Hartfield filed papers seeking his release, which a judge rejected, and set the retrial date for September.
Earlier coverage of Jerry Hartfield's case begins at the link.