The amicus brief filed with the CCA is in Adobe .pdf format.
The AP report by Juan Lozano is, "Group wants Texas death penalty hearing to resume," via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
An alliance of nearly 60 current and former prosecutors, judges, police chiefs, governors, death row exonerees and crime victims filed a legal brief Wednesday asking Texas' highest criminal court to let an unusual hearing on the constitutionality of the death penalty in the state continue.
The court hearing in Houston was put on hold earlier this month after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted a request by prosecutors to stop it.
The hearing, which was halted after two days of testimony, had been ordered by Kevin Fine, a state district judge who is considering a motion in a capital murder case on whether Texas' death penalty statute is unconstitutional.
Fine is a judge in Harris County, which has sent more inmates to the lethal-injection gurney than any other county in the U.S. Texas has more executions than any other U.S. state.
Lawyers for the Houston man who had asked for the hearing say problems with such things as eyewitness identification and evidence offered by informants have created flaws in death penalty prosecutions in Texas and resulted in a risk that innocent people like their client will be executed.
They said the case against their client, John Edward Green Jr., uses some of the same faulty evidentiary procedures that have resulted in others being wrongly convicted. Green, who is awaiting trial, faces a possible death sentence if convicted of fatally shooting a Houston woman during a June 2008 robbery.
Prosecutors with the Harris County District Attorney's Office have said the claims being made by Greens' attorneys are well-settled case law and that Fine doesn't have the authority to prevent the state from seeking the death penalty in the case.
In their amicus brief, the group of current and former law enforcement officials, lawmakers, exonerees and crime victims said the hearing was crucial as "confidence in the criminal justice system is shaken when problems go unaddressed."
"The tie that binds this diverse group of citizens together is the profound philosophical and practical concern that the Texas death penalty, as currently applied, unreasonably and substantially risks the conviction and execution of the innocent," wrote Walter Long, the group's attorney.
The group includes former Texas Gov. Mark White; former Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening; former Indiana Gov. Joe Kernan; six former federal prosecutors; five former state and federal judges; 12 current state lawmakers from California, Connecticut, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico and Texas; current and former police chiefs from Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Washington; and six death row exonerees from around the country.
In a statement about the brief, Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos said the hearing in Fine's court is not "the proper forum for this particular constitutional challenge to the law."
The brief, as well as one by Green's attorneys were filed on Wednesday, the deadline the appeals court gave for motions on whether the death penalty hearing should continue. The appeals court did not set a timetable for when it would make a decision.
Brian Rogers writes, "Ex-Gov. White, others seek to revive death-penalty hearing," for today's Houston Chronicle.
State District Judge Kevin Fine began what was to be a two-week hearing about the death penalty Dec. 7, after he declared the death penalty unconstitutional in March, then rescinded his ruling and decided to hear evidence before making his decision.
Two days into that hearing, the Court of Criminal Appeals agreed to reconsider a motion by the Harris County District Attorney's Office to stop the hearing and halted the proceedings until further notice.
Wednesday was the last day to file briefs on whether the hearing should take place.
Earlier coverage begins with the post, "Latest Development in the Green Case."