Hey, folks! My recent column got a Letter to the Editor! It's attached below:
Change the Law
To the editor: John P. Araujo’s “On Second Thought” column (“Guilt by Association,” Aug. 29, 2007) was a well-documented explanation regarding the effect of Texas’ “law of parties” statute — particularly in the case of Kenneth Foster, the condemned man whose death sentence was based on this archaic measure.
The law was a knee-jerk response by legislators to Texas’ rising murder rate and was intended to curtail recidivism. It hasn’t helped. This law has too wide a brushstroke and is too broadly interpreted. Gov. Rick Perry was just and correct in commuting Foster’s death sentence to life, on the day marked for his execution.
This case is a blueprint for new legislation that should be passed and implemented posthaste. Our legislators need to look at our entire system of criminal justice for other abuses like this. They should abolish the section of the penal code that allows for prosecution of a person for a crime that his or her co-conspirator committed, even if the first defendant never intended or agreed to the second crime.
By employing this conspiracy liability statute, the state is able to make persons eligible for the death penalty on a standard no greater than negligence — based on the premise, as Foster’s federal appellate attorney wrote, that a defendant should have anticipated his conspirator would, in the course of a planned felony, kill another person.
Foster has his attorney and the news media to thank for getting the wheels of justice to turn in the right direction.
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3 months ago