[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----TEXAS, USA
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sun Mar 13 21:56:40 CST 2005
Brothers plead for murderer's life
Trying to keep his younger brother off death row, a San Antonio police
officer told jurors Friday that Taichin Preyor is the father of 4
daughters and should be spared execution.
Preyor was convicted of capital murder Thursday for stabbing Jami Tackett
to death in the early morning hours of Feb. 26, 2004, during an attempted
"This is my brother. ... We love him very much," said Officer Sean
Preyor-Johnson. "He's got a family at home, young girls. We would like to
see him live out his years."
Beginning Monday, jurors will hear summary statements from the prosecution
and defense before deciding Preyor's sentence. He faces the death penalty
or life in prison and a possible $10,000 fine.
2 of Preyor's younger brothers, one a New York City firefighter and the
other a soldier recently back from Iraq, also testified Friday. They both
asked jurors to spare his life.
It's Bush vs. Texas in convict clash
As Texas fights to keep more than a dozen Mexican immigrants on death row,
it faces the unlikeliest of adversaries in its own much-loved former
Better known now by his current title, President Bush last week intervened
on behalf of 51 Mexicans condemned to death from Texas to Alabama to
Suggesting that Texas justice should bow to U.S. diplomacy, the longtime
supporter of capital punishment wants state courts to give the convicts
new hearings, as a gesture to foreign allies - chiefly Mexico.
Although limited in scope - the directive wouldn't necessarily overturn
any death sentences - it was unprecedented. It assumed the White House
could call the shots in the courthouse.
The president's nod to foreign allies has created an equally striking side
effect: It pits Bush against longtime allies in his own home state.
"It is very surprising to see this coming from this administration," said
Dianne Clements, director of the Houston-based victims' rights group
Justice For All. "It seems to me very much unlike George Bush."
One could call it Bush vs. Texas.
While California waits to see what happens, Texas is challenging Bush's
authority to command its courts.
Leading the opposition is Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who rose to
prominence when then-Gov. Bush named him to the state Supreme Court.
Abbott has support from others equally unused to opposing the world-famous
Which side will prevail in the conflict currently playing out at the U.S.
Supreme Court is an open question.
Traditionally, the president has unrivaled clout in matters of foreign
policy, but Bush's order stretches any previously recognized executive
Quietly announced in a memorandum signed Feb. 28, Bush is ordering the
hearings as a show of respect for the international community.
While the memo disturbed Texans used to seeing Bush support the state's
death penalty, it played better south of the border and overseas, where
the president often has been seen as having little regard for what other
It potentially helped soften the ground for a meeting later this month
with Mexico's president, who three years ago canceled a visit with Bush to
protest Texas' execution of a Mexican.
Technically, Bush's order was a nod to the International Court of Justice
in the Netherlands.
Sometimes called the World Court, the tribunal in The Hague ruled last
year that the Mexican inmates should get new hearings because they were
never told they could seek legal help from the Mexican government when
they were arrested - a violation of an international treaty. The hearings
would determine whether the assistance would have been crucial to their
Whether American courts are obliged to obey the World Court was a pivotal
question in the case of a Texas inmate, Jose Medellin, which is slated for
argument on March 28 at the Supreme Court.
However, the announcement that Bush would direct state courts to comply
with the World Court's ruling added an unforeseen wrinkle - one that
encouraged as much as it surprised Medellin's supporters.
"When I first heard about the directive, that was my first response: 'How
the hell does he get that authority?'" said Mike Charlton, a Houston-based
lawyer who represents Medellin, as well as Humberto Leal, a Mexican
immigrant sent to death row from San Antonio.
Medellin's lawyers are asking the Supreme Court to temporarily halt the
case while they pursue the state court hearings called for by the
Texas Attorney General Abbott is opposing any delay. His office claims
Bush has no authority to order hearings in Texas courts, and, furthermore,
the Mexicans are not entitled to any more hearings, at least about the
issue of legal help from their home government.
Abbott's argument has at least some merit, according to legal scholars.
The Supreme Court has in recent years repeatedly scaled back the federal
government's power to boss around the states.
For example, in 1996, the justices stopped Congress from temporarily
requiring local law-enforcement officers to conduct the criminal
background tests required by the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act.
On the other hand, 2 years ago, justices threw out a California law
designed to help Holocaust victims because the state law interfered with
White House efforts to aid the same victims.
But any parallel between Holocaust victims and Mexican convicts is, of
For one, the California law trespassed into foreign affairs. By contrast,
Bush is telling Texas to bend its fundamental rules governing appeals.
Even so, skeptics such as Julian Ku, an international law expert at
Hofstra University, believe Texas' complaint belongs at the Alamo more
than the Supreme Court.
In other words, it's a loser.
"This court has always sided with the U.S. government against the states
when it comes to a question of foreign policy," Ku said.
(source for both: San Antonio Express-News)
Focus: Executing minors
States' rights attacked
It is outrageous that the U.S. Supreme Court would seek precedence from a
foreign document concerning the ruling against capital punishment for
This type of "global enlightenment" is the same thinking that would turn
our troops over to the command of the United Nations.
In addition, it is an egregious attack on the rights of individual states.
Even more disturbing is the majority opinion cited by Justice Anthony
Kennedy that the court is the sole arbiter in all moral issues in America
This same appointed body scarcely recognizes the traditions of our
Judeo-Christian heritage or the laws from which they originate and, as
such, is incapable of ruling apart from its own political bias.
This court has capriciously set itself up as a nouveau-priest - defining
what is good and evil for the rest of us - and as long as decent people
remain silent about the blatant obstructionism in the U.S. Senate, we will
continue to see reasonable judicial nominees passed over for the status
quo of liberal activism.
-- K.D. West
Apes in black robes
There are 2 (among other) little-known methods of "checking" dangerous
U.S. Supreme Court decisions.
Article 111, Section II of the U.S. Constitution empowers Congress (by a
simple majority of both houses) to limit or nullify specified types of
Supreme Court appellate decisions.
Another "check" is available to the executive branch. The president could
refuse to enforce a Supreme Court decision. President Andrew Jackson
(whether one agrees with the merits of the case) did such.
Historically, the Supreme Court either was to render a decision on a
particular case or remand said case back to the states if the court judged
it was not a federal (or, better stated, national) matter.
When a lawful Supreme Court decision was made, it was to be the "law of
the case" - not the "law of the land." That decision could be used as a
precedent for future cases, to be sure. The recent decision concerning
minors convicted of murder will perpetuate this nonsense.
This case is not a "federal," i.e. national, matter regardless of what the
court says. This case should be remanded back to the states per the
principle of federalism - a principle alien to most Americans thanks to
our national media and public schools.
We Americans need to awaken. Pretentious apes dressed in black robes does
not justice make.
-- Joe R. Davenport
Need new punishment
Thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court decision, criminals 17 and up can be out
walking the streets of Texas while still young. Rehabilitated? I think
Needless to say, now is the time for life without parole. There are going
to be criminals who are too bad to ever be released from prison but not
bad enough to deserve the death penalty.
Then as it stands, life in Texas is 40 years?
(source: Letters to the Editor, San Antonio Express-News)
The Bush administration's withdrawal from the Optional Protocol to the
Vienna Convention on Consular Relations [news story, March 10] will
undermine the consular access that our government can offer Americans
Though the administration is not dropping out of the treaty itself, the
protocol provides an enforcement mechanism -- the International Court of
Justice -- for countries whose jailed citizens have been denied the right
to see a home-country diplomat.
As a consular officer (now retired), I have seen the presence of a U.S.
Embassy official prevent beatings, rapes and other mistreatment of U.S.
citizens arrested overseas. Consular access allows Americans who often
don't speak the local language to understand why they are being held, and
to communicate with friends and relatives who can arrange bail and get an
attorney. As a consular officer, I also have cleared up confusion with
foreign police, which resulted in Americans being freed.
The administration's action will make it easier for other countries to
deny arrested Americans access to consular officers.
Capital punishment, an issue in the administration's decision, should be
debated on its merits, but the rights and safety of traveling Americans
should not be curtailed to protect it.
BRIAN MCNAMARA -- Alexandria
(source: Letters to the Editor, Washington Post)
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