Dont execute death row prisoners without legal representation! sign now

Seven inmates on Georgia's death row are forced to represent themselves at hearings at the moment because they have no appellate lawyers. Georgia is the only state that does not provide prisoners with lawyers after their initial appeals. Instead the state funds a resource center to help inmates in the second phase of their appeals.

The seven affected cases are the ones of: Robert Earl Butts, Gregory Lawler, William Sallie, Richard Sealey, Gerald Patrick Lewis, Daniel Lucas, and Leeland Braley.

The four-person staff of the center is too overloaded to take these seven cases. Currently the Georgia Appellate Practice and Educational Resource Center receives $ 800,000 a year. Since 2000 the funding has not increased, but the center is working today on 40 \% more cases.
Currently the center is involved in the cases of 55 of the states 113 condemned inmates.

In 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states are not constitutionally obliged to fund appellate representation for the poor. In that Virginia case, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote that a state law provided counsel for death row inmates, and that no inmate had ever gone unrepresented in appeal.
A few years later exactly this happened in Georgia: Exzavious Gibson became the first death row inmate in modern history to be forced to represent himself in a state habeas corpus proceeding. Gibson, whose highest IQ rating was 81, was sitting alone opposite a lawyer for the state. Gibson answered with confusion when the judge asked him to present objections, witnesses or evidence in his defense. When the judge asked if he had any objection to a piece of evidence submitted by the state, he said: "Your honor, I don't waive any rights, but I don't have counsel, so I don't know what to say about anything you have asked me or anything you will ask me."
When the case moved up to the third phase of the appeal, the federal habeas corpus petition, U.S. District Judge Dudley H. Bowen Jr. sent it back for a second state hearing. Gibson's case remains at the level of the state habeas corpus petition. As part of his appeal, the Georgia Supreme Court was asked in 1999 to rule on whether death row inmates had the right to taxpayer-funded counsel. The justices ruled 4 to 3 that the state should not be forced to provide funds.

Execution is the harshest way of punishment, nobody should face execution without proper legal representation, let alone without any legal representation. Therefore we ask legislation to reconsider its decision NOT to fund appellate attorneys for ALL appeals. We ask to increase funds for the Appellate Practice and Educational Resource Center, so they are able to provide counsel for all Georgia death row prisoners who are not represented by an attorney during their appellate process or find another way to assure legal representation for death row inmates.

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Latest Signatures

  • 02 January 2016500. Myriam S
    I support this petition
  • 27 December 2015499. Ruth S
    Country USA death penalty is cruel and needs to be eliminated
  • 19 December 2015498. Fontaine L
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  • 13 November 2015495. Cara Henleyj
    Country USA Legal representation is a human right!
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    Country Germany save the life of these men!"!!
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    Country France the death penalty is wrong in a modern world but the unjustices even more unbearable as it concernes people poor and low on intelligence
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Information

Colette SpencerBy:
ReligionIn:
Petition target:
Attorney General of Georgia Thurbert E. Baker, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue

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