New York Times Editorial
June 21, 2000


Due Process, Texas-Style


Recent developments in the case of Gary Graham, a death row inmate in Texas who is scheduled to die by lethal injection tomorrow afternoon, reinforce qualms about his murder conviction -- and the duty of Gov. George W. Bush and the state pardons board to prevent injustice.

Mr. Graham's conviction hinged primarily on the testimony of a single witness, who testified she saw him from 30 to 40 feet away through her car windshield. His defense lawyer failed to tell the jury of the defective lineup procedure that may have guided her identification of Mr. Graham, or of ballistics tests showing that the gun Mr. Graham was carrying was not the murder weapon. Moreover, the jury was never told of two other witnesses at the scene identified in the police report, who say the assailant was not Mr. Graham.

In the last few days Mr. Graham's current lawyers have submitted affidavits from three members of the jury to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, which is considering his application for a full or conditional pardon, a 120-day reprieve to permit a hearing or a commutation of the sentence. In these sworn statements the jurors say that had they been presented with the additional evidence, they would not have voted to find Mr. Graham guilty.

In other words, there is a strong likelihood the outcome would have been different had Mr. Graham been afforded a fair trial. With the clock ticking toward the execution date, the jurors' statements have to weigh heavily on the consciences of Mr. Bush and the 18 members of the pardons board. Together, they hold his life in their hands. Copyright New York Times Company. All rights reserved.