Update: On June 16, the Texas Court of
Criminal Appeals stayed Roberson's execution, sending his case back
to a trial court for a hearing on the new scientific
Receives Stay of Execution: CCA rules Monday that inmate might be
too insane to die
Texas' Court of Criminal Appeals issued a stay on the execution
of 55-year-old Randall Mays Monday, citing questions concerning th
edeath row inmate's mental competency. The state's Code of
Criminal Procedure bars executions for those who don't understand
why they're being killed (or that its occurrence has become
Appeals Capital Murder Conviction, Seeks to Dodge Death Penalty
With New Evidence
KYTX, Smith County
A convicted murderer from Whitehouse wants a second chance. At
least one medical expert now backs up the story Kimberly Cargill
has been telling for the last four years.
The Capital Aggravation Question
On Friday, Sept. 5, the Office of Capital Writs (the state
agency charged with representing inmates appealing a death
sentence) filed an application for retrial with the Texas Court of
Criminal Appeals on behalf of Lisa Ann Coleman, a 38-year-old
Arlington woman found guilty in the July 2004 kidnapping and
subsequent starvation death of 9-year-old Davontae
Seek New Trial For Death Row Inmate Areli Escobar
Austin American Statesman
Lawyers for death row inmate Areli Escobar are seeking to
overturn his conviction, contending that one of the jurors who
sentenced him in May 2011 hid the fact that he had once worked with
the defendant before his murder trial.
Attorneys to Appear Before Judge in Writ Hearing (Multiple
Bryan-College Station, The Eagle
Attorneys for Brazos County death row inmate John Thuesen
continued presenting evidence Tuesday in an attempt to prove he had
ineffective representation during his 2010 trial.
Capital Murder Convict
Robin Y. Richardson
Marshall News Messenger
A state writ of habeus corpus hearing in the capital murder case
of death row inmate Cortne Mareese Robinson began here in the 71st
District Courtroom Monday with visiting judge Joe Clayton of Tyler
Robinson, who was brought last Friday to the Harrison County
Jail from the Palaski Unit in Livingston, is being represented by
attorneys from the State Office of Capital Writs. The office is
state government agency tasked with representing defendants in
Texas who have been sentenced to death.
the Toll of War in a Death Penalty Debate
By Brandi Grissom, Texas Tribune - New York Times
Dennis and Patty Thuesen look through photos of their son John
from his childhood and his service in the military. John, an Iraq
war veteran, is appealing his death sentence for the murders of his
girlfriend and her brother, Rachel and Travis Joiner, claiming that
lawyers at his original trial did not adequately inform jurors
about his PTSD.
state office challenges death sentences
By MICHAEL GRACZYK, Associated Press - The
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Brad Levenson wasn't thrilled to watch the
condemned prisoner die, but he believed it was his duty to his
client - and to the state-funded agency he now leads, charged with
defending people who have been sentenced to death.
It was the first execution he'd ever seen.
"No matter how many pictures you see and other attorneys
describing it, it's just a surreal experience," Levenson said of
the lethal injection earlier this year of convicted killer Cary
New State Office Handling Convicted Baytown Murderer's
Death-Sentence Habeas Appeal
By STEPHEN THOMAS , Your Houston
Posted: Thursday, July 21, 2011 4:00
The Texas Office of Capital Writs, which will mark its first
anniversary Sept. 1, advocates on behalf of indigent individuals
sentenced to death in Texas, and Joseph Francois Jean is one of
Message: We Ought to Be Ashamed
by William Harris: Voice For The Defense - Online
Posted Wednesday, May 25th, 2011
On May 3, 2011, the State of Texas executed Cary Kerr from Fort
Worth. Brad Levenson and his staff at the newly created Office of
Capital Writs (OCW) made a valiant attempt to get the Court of
Criminal Appeals and the Supreme Court to halt the execution and
consider fully mitigation evidence developed by OCW after Mr.
Kerr's state habeas counsel failed to do so in the original state
proceeding. Brad and his staff performed to the highest standards
of our profession. We should all be proud of their work.
What we should be ashamed of is the holding of the Supreme Court
and the lower courts following its lead: that an indigent capital
defendant has no constitutional right to the effective assistance
of counsel on the post-conviction review of his case.
Post-conviction review of trials in which a death penalty is
imposed is required by the United States Constitution. It is beyond
question that every defendant tried in our criminal courts for
non-petty offenses is entitled to competent, effective assistance
of counsel as a matter of constitutional right. In cases where the
death penalty is imposed, we require that new counsel review the
process for constitutional error, including the effectiveness of
trial and direct appeal counsel. Yet the Court blithely says there
is no right to effective, competent performance by the lawyer
performing that post-conviction review.
Challenge Is First for Texas Appeals Office
by Brandi Grissom: The Texas Tribune
Posted Thursday, May 3, 2011
Less than a month before his scheduled execution, Cary Kerr had
no attorney. And the ones he had had up to that point, he argues,
didn't do him much good. Now, he's asking the U.S. Supreme Court to
stop his execution - scheduled for tonight - and allow him another
opportunity to argue for his life.
"This was a life history that wasn't told," says Brad Levenson,
Kerr's new attorney. "No one has done this investigation."
Levenson is director of the state's new Office of Capital Writs.
Created by lawmakers in 2009 to provide better representation for
people on death row who can't afford to pay their own lawyers to
challenge their sentences, the office opened in September 2010.
Kerr's case is the first the office has taken with an impending
execution date. And prophetically, the appellate lawyer whose
previous work Kerr lambasts is the same one who helped spur
lawmakers to create the office of writs in the first place.
challenge new state office for death-row appeals
By Chuck Lindell AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Published: 7:09 p.m. Friday, Dec. 31, 2010
Troubled by revelations of second-rate work by court-appointed
attorneys, Texas legislators in 2009 created a state office to
improve appeals on behalf of death-row inmates.
Now staffed with four lawyers and two investigators, the Office
of Capital Writs is beginning work on its first cases - but it's
facing an uncertain future.
Two rounds of budget cuts have already cost the office a
part-time worker and prompted remaining staffers to cut corners by
supplying their own ergonomic chairs, buying office supplies and
traveling on the cheap by staying with friends or declining to be
repaid for meals.
But additional budget cuts of 10 percent, likely to hit almost
every state agency next year, could leave little choice but to lay
off a lawyer or investigator. Such a reduction could jeopardize the
agency's mission and the state's long-standing - but often broken -
promise that no inmate will be executed without first getting help
from a competent appeals attorney.