In addition to the tongue lashing they got from the DC Court in the voter ID preclearance trial, the Greg Abbott gang took fire from judges in two other cases recently. Trail Blazers has the highlights. First, some incredulity from the Court of Criminal Appeals:
Last Wednesday, Solicitor General Jonathan Mitchell tried to convince the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals that death row inmate Hank Skinner should not be allowed to have DNA evidence from the crime scene tested. He argued that the evidence was overwhelming and that Skinner was just trying to delay his execution.
Judge Michael Keasler, and indeed most of his colleagues on the court, expressed consternation. “You really ought to be absolutely sure before you strap a person down and kill him,” Keasler said. The other judges pointed out that the law had been recently revised to make it clear that courts should give deference to post-conviction testing of DNA evidence in capital murder cases.
And Judge Elsa Alcala also shot down Mitchell’s assertion that the case against Skinner was air-tight. “It’s not overwhelming; it’s circumstantial,” she said.
In Texas, where more than 40 people have been freed based post-conviction DNA testing, the appeal judges had little patience with the argument that Skinner’s test wouldn’t change anything.
As the Trib reported, Justices Cathy Cochrane and Cheryl Johnson also piled on. Remember, this is the CCA, the most pro-prosecutor group outside the Texas District & County Attorneys Association in the state going after the AG’s arguments like this. It’s like being chided by Antonin Scalia for being too originalist.
They also found an item in the Fifth Circuit ruling that upheld the injunction Planned Parenthood got in their lawsuit over funding for the Women’s Health Program that I had not seen before:
The judges also questioned why the state has never addressed an important precedent where Planned Parenthood prevailed in a similar defunding case.
Again the judges wrote: “Despite the plaintiffs’ and the district court’s having relied extensively on that authority, which binds this panel to the extent it is applicable, the State never mentioned it (as far as we can tell from the record) in the district court and did not refer to it in any way in its motion for stay pending appeal.”
It’s almost as if the facts aren’t that important to Abbott’s gang. Maybe they expect to win by default, I don’t know. I’m just enjoying the spectacle. In the meantime, they have responded to their latest bench-slapping by whining that the judges are wrong to blame them for the delays in the voter ID trial. I’m sure that will get them right back into the court’s good graces.