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Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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The Latest Court Battle over Texas Death Penalty

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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The last few days my nightstand reading has been University of Houston law professor David Dow’s recent book Executed on a Technicality: Lethal Justice on America’s Death Row. It’s a great read, not technical. Dow also runs the Innocence Project which I’m hoping I might get a chance to work on at some point.

Coincidentally, a major inter-court skirmish seems to have broken out. (See Tom Kirkendall’s excellent pointers and analysis)

The lower appeals’ courts keep affirming capital convictions generated after dubious trials. The Justices keep rejecting the lower courts’ reasoning and sending the cases back down for fixing. Then, instead of loyally following the High Court’s rationale, the lower courts keep coming back with new reasons (or in some cases, the same old reasons) for affirming the convictions.

I’ll spare you an account of my own death penalty opinions for now. Suffice it to say I neither fully support nor fully oppose it. Here’s a question that keeps bugging me though –

In my own experience I find that generally, the death penalty enjoys widespread support among evangelical christians as a group. I could be wrong about this – see Thomas Berg’s “Religious Conservatives and the Death Penalty,” which I haven’t had a chance to read yet, but my experience, as an evangelical christian, is that it does.

So, if you’ll give me that for the sake of argument, the question is this – Why would the death penalty enjoy wide support among this particular group, given that we worship a man/God (both-and, not either-or IMHO) an innocent man who was wrongly convicted and sentenced to death? Doesn’t it seem natural that there would be an aversion rather than unqualified acceptance among just this group? I know, I know, hypocrisy (if you deem it such) is alive and well both in church and out, but really, isn’t this perplexing?

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Category: criminal law, death penalty, law in the news, supreme court, Texas, Texans & the Law, university of houston

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  1. [...] I had missed this article when I posted on the death penalty and Dow’s book earlier – from the NY Times Judging Whether a Killer Is Sane Enough to Die: David R. Dow, a law professor at the University of Houston who has met more than 75 death row inmates, visited Mr. Panetti at his lawyers’ request. “Of all the people I have met on death row, he’s the gold-medal-crazy winner,” Professor Dow said. [...]

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