"The most dangerous informer of all is the jailhouse snitch who claims another prisoner has confessed to him....The precautionary rule of thumb with a jailhouse confession presented by another inmate is that it is false until the contrary is proved beyond a reasonable doubt."
-- Judge Stephen S. Trott. Words of warning for prosecutors using criminals as witnesses. 47 Hastings Law Journal (1996), 1394 [not available online].
The pic is of Troy Anthony Davis, whose execution date in Georgia is set for July 17, less than two weeks from now. The state of Georgia set the death date four days after the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari in Troy's habeas petition [PDF warning].
Troy was convicted in 1991 of the fatal shooting of a Savannah, GA, police officer. Judge Trott's QDJ matters because of the absence of physical evidence, including the murder weapon; the post-trial recanting of trial testimony by alleged eyewitnesses; and especially the trial testimony of two jailhouse snitches, who claimed Troy confessed to them.
(*) The death warrant is here [PDF warning].
(*) The Amnesty International page is here.
(*) Among the sources of international law that the Amnesty report on Troy's case cites is United Nations safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty (1984).
The passage of the safeguards directly bearing on Troy's case is Paragraph 4: "Capital punishment may only be imposed when the guilt of the person charged is based upon clear and convincing evidence leaving no room for an alternative explanation of the facts."
The "alternative explanation of the facts" in Troy's case is that one of the alleged eyewitnesses against him at trial is the real killer. Really, do follow some of the links and read about this case.
Tags: politics, law, policy, Quotation du jour, QDJ, Judge Stephen S. Trott, Ninth Circuit, U.S. Supreme Court, habeas corpus, indigent defense, appellate practice, Hastings Law Journal, informers, snitches, death penalty, capital punishment, Troy Anthony Davis, execution, Savannah, Chatham County, Georgia.