Judges in Willie Manning’s case engineered their DNA test refusal by considering only damning prosecution evidence, departing from practice in other cases. Prosecution evidence is by its nature unlikely to be anything other than damning: in any legal case an assessment of guilt will be exaggerated if based on prosecution evidence alone, without the leavening of the counter arguments of the defense. In Willie’s case the contrast between the two methods of review is stark: the ‘prosecution evidence only’ method establishes ‘conclusive and overwhelming guilt’, but the ‘complete record’ method establishes… absolutely nothing. Every point made by the State is discredited by the defense; and the State’s witnesses are found to be criminals who were given huge favors, of which the jury was not told. Yet the 5 judges chose to use the ‘prosecution evidence only’ method, with its inevitably damning conclusion.
The 4 judges who supported Willie’s request for DNA testing did use the normal ‘complete review’ method, with the result that they came to conclusions such as, “Manning presented evidence at court that undermined the court’s case against him”. Moreover, in previous cases, such as that of the exonerated death row inmate, Kennedy Brewer, the usual ‘complete record’ method has been used, leading to DNA testing being granted.
Accountability is everywhere these days: endless forms are completed every day throughout the world to ensure that correct procedures have been followed. But it would seem that in the USA a man’s death can hang in the balance without anyone questioning whether correct procedures have even been defined, yet alone followed.
5 judges in Mississippi have knowingly created conditions that are likely to result in Willie’s death. Why they have done this we cannot know, but it is certainly shocking and very serious. If Governor Bryant will not stop this execution, President Obama should.