by Casey Tolan
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 evidence.
by Chase Hoffberger
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 imminent).
by Field Sutton
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.
by Chase Hoffberger
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 Williams.
by Jazmine Ulloa
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.
by Maggie Kiely
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.
by 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 presiding.
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.
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.
by Michael Graczyk
Associated Press - The Houston Chronical
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 Kerr.
by Stephen Thomas
Your Houston News
Posted: Thursday, July 21, 2011 4:00 am
The capital murder conviction of a Baytown man is a new case for a relatively new state office charged with habeas corpus appellate representation of death-sentenced convicts.
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 them.
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.
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.
by Chuck Lindell
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.