Today's Austin American-Statesman reports, "Eight ex-judges support appeal of death row inmate Rodney Reed." It's by Chuck Lindell.
Eight retired federal and state judges on Monday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to accept an appeal by Rodney Reed, who faces a January execution in the 1996 rape and murder of 19-year-old Stacey Stites in Bastrop County.
The former judges said they were taking no position on Reed’s claim of innocence or his insistence that he should be granted a new trial because he received poor representation from his trial lawyers.
Rather, they said in a friend-of-the-court brief submitted Monday, that the Supreme Court should intervene because a lower appeals court did not follow the correct procedure when it rejected Reed’s appeal in January.
According to the retired judges’ brief, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals should have ordered a district judge to review Reed’s claims — hearing live witnesses who were cross-examined by lawyers — but instead engaged in improper fact-finding based on a “cold record” of briefs and affidavits.
The retired federal judges in the brief were Royal Furgeson of Texas, appointed by President Bill Clinton; U.W. Clemon of Alabama, appointed by President Carter; Lee Sarokin of New Jersey, appointed by Carter and Clinton; Stephen Orlofsky of New Jersey, appointed by Clinton; and W. Thomas Dillard, a nonappointed magistrate judge in Tennessee.
The state judges included Charles Baird, a Democrat who served eight years on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and four years as a district judge in Austin; Sol Wachtler, a Republican formerly with the New York Supreme Court; and Oliver Diaz Jr., formerly with the Mississippi Supreme Court in a nonpartisan position.
The amicus brief in Reed v. Stephens is available in Adobe .pdf format.
Earlier coverage of Rodney Reed's case begins at the link.