March 17 and 18: Demand a new trial for Rodney Reed!
Oral arguments in Rodney’s case are being heard Wednesday, March 19 by the notorious Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. We are asking everyone to phone and email the CCA and the Texas Attorney General to ask for a new trial for Rodney Reed.
The presiding judge of the CCA, Judge Sharon Keller, has come under fire recently for denying the appeal of Michael Richard — the last person to be executed in Texas as a national de facto moratorium on executions took effect — because she was unwilling to keep the court open after 5 PM. With the life of an innocent man in the hands of this court, we need to ratchet up the pressure.
Rodney Reed deserves a new trial, where evidence of his innocence can finally be heard in court. Evidence was hidden by police and prosecutors that implicates another suspect in the murder of Stacey Stites. Read the attached fact sheet for an overview of the case. Rodney’s defense has long posited that Jimmy Fennell, the fiance of Stacey, is the more likely suspect in this crime.
For recent developments surrounding Jimmy Fennell check out:
TEXAS COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS (512)463-1551
ATTORNEY GENERAL GREG ABBOTT (512)463-2100
ATTEND ORAL ARGUMENTS IN THE CASE OF RODNEY REED,
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 19, 9 A.M.
TEXAS COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS, 201 14TH STREET
Enter through glass doors on plaza which face out to Congress on north side of Capitol. The courtroom should be on the right, or ask at the desk for directions.
The Case Against Capital Punishment
Although shocking, Rodney’s case is anything but unique in a criminal justice system marked by race and class bias. Reed—a Black man of less than modest means living in rural Texas—was convicted by an all-white jury. His relationship with Stites, a white woman, was taboo in this context. His original trial lawyers, who are Black, publicly stated that they were afraid to stay overnight in Bastrop during the trial, yet they were still expected by the courts to mount the most rigorous defense possible.
Today, Black men constitute just over twelve percent of the nation’s population, but occupy nearly half of the spots on U.S. death rows. Furthermore, nearly all of those sentenced to death relied on notoriously inadequate court-appointed attorneys or (in states other than Texas, which has no public defender system) public defenders without the necessary resources to investigate and defend capital cases.
As Rodney and his family await the CCA decision, local activist groups, led by the Austin chapter of Campaign to End the Death Penalty (CEDP), are working to raise public awareness about the Reed case. The case has received a significant boost in visibility with the award-winning documentary State vs. Reed. These next few weeks are crucial in the fight for justice for Rodney Reed. The judges on the Court need only briefly survey the existing analysis and discussion surrounding this case to see that there is a consensus supporting a new trial for Reed.
The fight goes well beyond winning a new trial for Rodney. The United States is alone among industrialized democratic countries in its use of capital punishment, and Texas has become an icon for this barbaric practice. Rodney Reed is only one of 391 people on death row in Texas, many of whom have experienced the similar miscarriages of justice. If we see the flaws in Rodney’s case, we must begin to call the entire institution into question.
Readers may write the CCA on Rodney’s behalf (at Court of Criminal Appeals, PO Box 12308, Capitol Station, Austin, Texas 78711) and sign the petition online. Our legislators, Governor Rick Perry, and all those vying for office in the upcoming elections must also get the message that the costs of the lives ruined by the death penalty far outweigh any benefit in carrying on Texas’ tradition of executions.
Dana Cloud / The University of Texas at Austin / The Rag Blog
CEDP’s 2007-2008 National Speaking Tour
A Broken System – Crying out For Justice
In Austin, April 9, 2008
At UT, The Texas Union, Chicano Culture Room
Featuring Mothers of Texas Death Row Prisoners:
Anna Terrell — mother of Reginald Blanton
Lee Greenwood — mother of Joseph Nichols, killed March 7, 2007
Sandra Reed — mother of Rodney Reed
Also a “Live From Death Row” Event, with a live call from a death row prisoner.
Campaign to End the Death Penalty Weekly Meeting
Wednesdays at 7 p.m.
In NOA Rm. 1.116 on UT Campus
(on Wichita a block north of Dean Keeton)
The CEDP will be building the panel event “A Broken System – Crying Out For Justice,”coming up on April 9, and featuring mothers of death row prisoners.
A lot of our work will center on ongoing campaigns, such as the case of Rodney Reed, and of D.R.I.V.E. – the group of death row prisoners organizing for better prison conditions. With no executions happening, this is a good time to seize the momentum on this issue and get involved in ending executions forever.
Justice for Rodney Reed — an innocent man on Texas’ death row. http://www.freerodneyreed.org/
Stefanie Collins / The Rag Blog