Mon., August 17, 2009 11:42am (EDT)

Troy Davis Gets Hearing From Supreme Court
By Susanna Capelouto
Updated: 5 years ago

ATLANTA  —  
The U.S. Supreme Court is giving Troy Davis a chance to escape death row. (photo: Georgia Department of Corrections)
The U.S. Supreme Court is giving Troy Davis a chance to escape death row. (photo: Georgia Department of Corrections)
The U.S. Supreme Court says condemned inmate Troy Davis should get another chance to prove his innocence before the state of Georgia executes him.

The court Monday ordered a federal judge to take testimony and do some fact finding to see if Davis might be innocent. Justice John Paul Stevens in the ruling said the risk of putting an innocent man to death "provides adequate justification" for an evidentiary hearing.

Experts call the action unusual. According to Scotusblog.com, Justice Scalia, one of two dissenters on the high court, said that the court has not done such an action in 50 years.

Jared Feuer, Southern Regional Director for Amnesty International USA, says this is the decision supporters of Davis have been waiting for:

“What we think now is that the courts have finally understood that a man’s life is at stake, and even if this is unusual for them to hear it, it is absolutely essential that they go forward.”

Davis was convicted in 1991 of murdering Savannah off-duty police officer Mark Allen McPhail. Since his trial, seven of the nine witnesses have recanted their testimonies. Amnesty International and many prominent politicians including former President Jimmy Carter have called for a hearing in the case.

Davis has been on Georgia's death row for 18 years, with three dates of execution past. Davis' lawyers had appealed to the nation's top court in April, after a lower federal court denied a new trial.


Contributors: Edgar Treiguts