Supreme Court Delays Decision on Whether to Grant Cert in the Case of Death Row Inmate Troy Davis, Widely Termed the Most Compelling Case of Innocence in Decades

NAACP Commends Court for Taking Time to Thoroughly Review Case

Washington DC—The NAACP issued the following statement today in response to the United States Supreme Court's decision to postpone ruling until next term on whether it will grant habeas on the Georgia death penalty case of Troy Anthony Davis. There is overwhelming evidence of Davis' innocence that has never been heard in court. The Supreme Court's current term ends today and the next term begins in September.

“The NAACP commends the Supreme Court's decision to give further consideration on whether to grant cert in the case of Troy Davis.  The execution of a likely innocent man must not proceed, and we are thankful the Court has put the brakes on Troy's execution," said Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP.  “We read the Supreme Court's delay as a message to the state of Georgia to resolve the issue by reopening the case in the state courts,” President and CEO Jealous continued.

Edward DuBose, President of the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, added, "The Supreme Court has indicated that there is reason to take another look at Troy's case. I am pleased that the Court has taken note of the overwhelming evidence of Troy's innocence. It is time for Chatham District Attorney Larry Chisolm to take action to reopen this case."

The Supreme Court's delay will allow the NAACP and a myriad of other groups to continue to increase advocacy efforts on Davis' behalf in Chatham County and around the country. Today, a diverse group of religious and civic leaders delivered over 10,000 hand signed petitions from Chatham County residents to District Attorney Larry Chisolm, urging him to stop the execution and reopen the case. Another 50,000 petitions from around the nation were also delivered.

A wide array of public figures, including President Jimmy Carter, former FBI Director William Sessions, and former presidential candidate Bob Barr have also called for a new trial for Davis.

As Sessions wrote, "Crucial unanswered questions surround claims of [Troy] Davis' responsibility for this terrible crime, and I believe that the execution should not go forward until the courts address them... Only a full hearing, with all witnesses subject to rigorous cross-examination and a full exploration of the circumstances of their testimony, will provide a means to determine the reliability of this conviction. This never happened at trial. It must happen now."

Davis has been on Death Row in Georgia for nearly 18 years, after being charged with the murder of Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail in Savannah, Georgia.  Davis was convicted despite the absence of physical evidence linking him to the crime. Moreover, seven of the nine witnesses recanted or contradicted their original testimony; several of those witnesses say they were coerced. 

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members in the U.S. around the world advocate for civil and human rights, conducting voter mobilization campaigns, and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

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