Former Republican Representative (and Libertarian presidential candidate) Bob Barr has an op-ed in today's New York Times calling on the Supreme Court to grant the habeas petition filed on behalf of Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis.
Mr. Davis is facing execution for the 1989 murder of an off-duty police officer in Savannah, Ga., even though seven of the nine witnesses have recanted their testimony against him. Many of these witnesses now say they were pressured into testifying falsely against him by police officers who were understandably eager to convict someone for killing a comrade. No court has ever heard the evidence of Mr. Davis's innocence.
After the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit barred Mr. Davis from raising his claims of innocence, his attorneys last month petitioned the Supreme Court for an original writ of habeas corpus. This would be an extraordinary procedure — provided for by the Constitution but granted only a handful of times since 1900. However, absent this, Mr. Davis faces an extraordinary and obviously final injustice.
According to Barr, federal courts have read the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) too narrowly, and the law was not intended to preclude habeas petitions asserting actual innocence.