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Friday, May 29, 2009

Amnesty Report: USA: Too much cruelty, too little clemency: Texas nears 200th execution under current governor

People in Austin, Houston, Albuqueque New Mexico, Paris France, Montreal Canada, Leipzig Germany, Huntsville and other cities are making final preparations for protests of the 200th execution under Governor Rick Perry.

For some background information, here is a recent report from Amnesty International.

USA: Too much cruelty, too little clemency: Texas nears 200th execution under current governor

Download: HTML PDF
Index Number: AMR 51/057/2009
Date Published: 30 April 2009
Categories: USA

Richard Perry was sworn in as Governor of Texas on 21 December 2000, following the election of the previous governor, George W. Bush, to the office of US President. This report looks back at a few of the cases of prisoners executed in Texas during Governor Perry’s term in office, and forward to a few cases that may yet come across his desk. This is not to suggest that the governor alone is responsible for the fate of those on death row.

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Albuquerque New Mexico Protest of 200th Execution Under Texas Governor Rick Perry

Saturday May 30th 12:00 Noon
Central and Tulane
Albuquerque

Contact: Christy Armell
Campaign to End the Death Penalty
Albuquerque Chapter
505-304-4703
Christy_n_haylie505@yahoo.com

On June 2nd, there will be an execution in Texas. This will be the 200th execution under Texas Governor Rick Perry during his tenure. Governor Perry has allowed more executions to proceed than any other governor in history including former Governor George W. Bush.

As many celebrate abolition in New Mexico, we must remember that there are still many men and women sitting on death row in this country; Over 3000 to be exact. As a neighbor to Texas we must stand in unity with activists in that state against state sanctioned murder and we must make Governor Perry understand that the death penalty is not good public policy.

We will protest against the 200th execution in Texas on Saturday May 30th and come together as human beings that understand compassion and forgiveness is what will make our world a better place.

We will come together on behalf of all those who sit on death row day after day waiting to die. We will stand in unity with the families of the condemned whose lives have been forever altered by the death penalty, such as Muina Chamberlain, a resident of New Mexico; whose son was executed in Texas almost one year ago.

It’s time for Texas to join the 15 other states who have chosen to abolish the death penalty.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Leipzig, Germany Protest to Include 200 Crosses and 200 Candles at U.S. Embassy

The Amnesty International-Leipzig group who are organizing a protest of the 200th execution under Texas Governor Rick Perry plan to put 200 crosses made out of white paper and 200 candles on the sidewalk in front of the U.S. Embassy on June 2.

Leipzig is a sister city of Houston, Texas.

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Montreal, Canada "Die-in" to Protest 200th Execution Under Texas Governor Rick Perry

A group in Montreal, Canada is joining the protests of the 200th execution under Rick Perry. They plan to hold a "die-in" on June 2. www.protest200executions.com.

The DP Coordination Team of Amnesty International Canada Francophone invites the public, organizations and its members to participate in a die-in.

When : June 2nd @ 5:30PM

Where : Ste-Catherine St., between Berri and St-Denis Streets (just off Berri-UQAM subway station)

This die-in is held for those wishing to express a strong message in favor of abolishing the death penalty in the State of Texas.

The re-enactment will represent the 200 executions pronounced by the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, since the beginning of his governorship in 2001, when he replaced George W. Bush.

We ask people to dress soberly; preferably all dressed in black.

For more information, please contact pdm.coordination@amnistie.ca or visit www.amnistie.ca/pdm.

La Coordination pour l'Abolition de la peine de mort d'Amnistie internationale Canada francophone invite le public, les organisations et ses sympathisants à participer à un "die-in".

Quand : Le 2 juin prochain à partir de 17h30
Où : Sur la rue Ste-Catherine, entre les rues Berri et St-Denis (à deux pas de la Station Berri-UQAM)

Ce "die-in" s'adresse à ceux et celles qui souhaitent exprimer un message en faveur de l'abolition de la peine de mort dans l'État du Texas.

La mise en scène représentera les 200 exécutions prononcées par le Gouverneur du Texas, Rick Perry, depuis le début de son mandat en 2001, alors qu'il a succédé à George W. Bush. Le mot d'ordre du rassemblement est la sobriété ; il sera préférable d'être habillé tout de noir.

Pour davantage d'informations, contactez pdm.coordination@amnistie.ca

Time: June 2, 2009 from 5:30pm to 6:30pm
Location: Montreal, Quebec
Street: Sainte-Catherine St., between St-Denis and Berri Streets
City/Town: Montreal
Contact Info: 5149625650
Organized By: Charles Perroud


La Coordination pour l'Abolition de la peine de mort d'Amnistie internationale Canada francophone invite le public, les organisations et ses sympathisants à participer à un "die-in".

Quand : Le 2 juin prochain à partir de 17h30
Où : Sur la rue Ste-Catherine, entre les rues Berri et St-Denis (à deux pas de la Station Berri-UQAM)

Ce "die-in" s'adresse à ceux et celles qui souhaitent exprimer un message en faveur de l'abolition de la peine de mort dans l'État du Texas.

La mise en scène représentera les 200 exécutions prononcées par le Gouverneur du Texas, Rick Perry, depuis le début de son mandat en 2001, alors qu'il a succédé à George W. Bush. Le mot d'ordre du rassemblement est la sobriété ; il sera préférable d'être habillé tout de noir.

Pour davantage d'informations, contactez pdm.coordination@amnistie.ca.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Protest the 200th Execution Under Texas Governor Rick Perry June 2

The PoliTex blog of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram mentioned the plans in the works to protest the 200th execution under Rick Perry

Death penalty opponents are organizing around June 2, the day the 200th execution in Texas under Perry is scheduled. That’s more than under any other Texas governor. (Not as surprising when you consider Perry is the state’s longest-serving one.)

The Austin-based Texas Moratorium Network has set up a web site www.protest200executions.com. Activists are planning protests in several cities and are urging the like-minded to contact Perry’s office that day and ask him to abolish the death penalty in Texas as well as donate 200 cents to an anti-death penalty organization.
On June 2, 2009, the 200th execution under Texas Governor Rick Perry is scheduled to take place. Since he became governor of Texas in December 2000, Perry has allowed more executions to proceed than any other governor in U.S. history. Terry Hankins is scheduled to be the 200th person executed under Rick Perry. If he receives a stay of execution, then the 200th person will be the next person on the list.

Protest locations include Austin at the Texas Capitol (Organized by Campaign to End the Death Penalty), Huntsville outside The Walls Unit (Organized by Texas Moratorium Network), downtown Houston (Organized by Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement),
Albuquerque, New Mexico (May 30), Paris France (June 3) at the Place de la Concorde, Leipzig Germany at the U.S. Embassy and Montreal Canada. Unless noted, protests will occur on June 2. More protests will be announced as they are confirmed. Some of the locations will include a reading of the names of the people executed under Rick Perry. Times and locations are available on the website http://abolishtexasdeathpenalty.ning.com/events.

The Texas anti-death penalty community asks people around the world to focus your attention on Texas and join us in protesting the 200th execution carried out under Rick Perry. Altogether, Texas has executed 438 people since 1982, including 152 under former Texas Governor George W. Bush.

The 200th execution protests are sponsored by Texas Moratorium Network, Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement, Campaign to End the Death Penalty - Austin, Students Against the Death Penalty, Texas Death Penalty Education and Resource Center, Abolish the Death Penalty Project on Amazee and Amnesty International - Leipzig. If your organization would also like to be a sponsor, email us at admin@texasmoratorium.org or call 512-961-6389.

Join our online community to protest the 200th execution.

How you can protest the 200th execution under Texas Governor Rick Perry

1) On the day of the 200th execution, call Governor Perry at 512-463-1782 and tell him your opinion on the death penalty. If you live in the U.S., you can use his the form on his website to email him. We suggest you both call him and email him. If you live outside the U.S., you can fax him at (512) 463-1849 or send him a letter in the postal mail. We would like to hand deliver letters to him, so please send your letter to the address below and we will deliver it to Rick Perry: You can send us your letter to Perry for us to deliver whether you live in the U.S. or another country.

Texas Moratorium Network

3616 Far West Blvd, Suite 117, Box 251

Austin, Texas 7831

2) Attend a protest in your city either on the day of the 200th execution or sometime before. If a protest is not scheduled, you can organize a protest. If you live outside the U.S., organize a protest at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Send us a photo or video of your protest by email and we will post it on this website and on YouTube. Or you can upload your photos and videos yourself to our social networking site or directly to our group on YouTube. If your organization is planning a protest, please let us know so that we can list your protest on this site.

3) Sign the petition and add your name to the list of people who are raising their voices to protest the 200th execution under Texas Governor Rick Perry.

4) Donate a symbolic 200 cents towards helping us organize against the Texas death penalty. That is one penny for every execution under Rick Perry. We are asking everyone to donate $2, which is the equivalent of 200 pennies. You are welcome to donate more if you can afford it, but everyone can afford to donate $2.

The artwork at www.protest200executions.com is by German artist Jasmin Hilmer represents the isolation of Texas in the world community. While most of the rest of the world, including all of Europe, have turned their backs on the use of capital punishment, Texas continues to execute people at a shocking rate.

Houston Protest of the 200th Execution

In Houston, the 200th legal lynching protest will be held from 5:00 until 6:30 under The Old Hanging Tree, corner of Bagby and Capitol downtown. Guest speaker is the borther of Albert Woodfox, one of the Angola Three!

A press conference will be held at 5:00.

Following the press conference, there will be an open mic so all can register their outrage at another day of infamy for the state of Texas in its quest for executions.

If your organization would like to co-sponsor this protest in Houston, contact the Abolition Movement at: Abolition.Movement@hotmail.com

Time: June 2, 2009 from 5pm to 6:30pm Location: The Old Hanging Tree
Street: Bagby and Capitol
City: Houston

Organized By: Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement

Contact: Abolition.Movement@hotmail.com


Sign the petition to protest the 200th execution!

Austin Protest of the 200th Execution at the Texas Capitol
The Austin protest of the 200th execution will be at 5:30 PM on the day of the 200th execution at the sidewalk in front of the Texas Capitol facing South on Congress and 11th Street.

Organized by Campaign to End the Death Penalty

Contact: lilymae30@hotmail.com

More details coming soon.

An organizing meeting for the Austin protest of the 200th execution will be held Wednesday, May 27th at 7 PM at Double Dave's pizza located at:
3000 Duval Street in Austin.

Everyone is welcome.


Huntsville Protest of the 200th Execution
Time: June 2, 2009 from 5pm to 6:30pm
Location: The Walls Unit
Street: 12th Street and Avenue I
City/Town: Huntsville, Texas
Contact: Sarah Hannah (979) 450-2179 or Scott Cobb (512-552-4743)


Paris France Protest of the 200th Execution
There will be a protest of the 200th execution under Governor Rick Perry on the Place de la Concorde, Tuileries/US Consulate side from 6pm to 7pm.

"Nous vous invitions à soutenir les efforts du mouvement abolitionniste au Texas en participant à une protestation le mercredi 3 juin à 18h, Place de la Concorde. Nous vous encourageons par ailleurs à manifester votre désapprobation en écrivant directement à l'Ambassadeur des Etats-Unis en France, Mr. Craig Stapleton, Ambassade des Etats-Unis, 2 avenue Gabriel, 75832 Paris Cédex 08; ainsi qu'à notre Secrétaire d'Etat Chargée des Affaires Etrangères et des Droits de l'Homme, Madame Rama Yade, 37 quai d'Orsay, 75351 Paris.

Rendez-vous le 3 juin 2009 à 18h Place de la Concorde à Paris."

Contact Sandrine Ageorges at sandrine.ageorges@gmail.com.


Leipzig Germany Protest of the 200th Execution
There will be a protest of the 200th execution under Governor Rick Perry outside the US Consulate in Leipzig Germany. Leipzig is a sister city of Houston, Texas.

When the old East Germany conducted executions, they held the executions in Leipzig, although at the time it was not widely if at all known.

Time: June 2, 2009 from 5pm to 6pm
Location: U.S. Consulate
Street: Wilhelm-Seyfferth- Straße 4
City/Town: Leipzig, Germany
Organized By: Amnesty International - Leipzig
Contact: Paula J. Herwigat: ai_paula@yahoo.de


Albuquerque, New Mexico Protest of 200th Execution
Protest the 200th Texas Execution under Gov. Rick Perry! Bring your own signs if you have some! We can also stay for the Peace Protest afterwards!

New Mexico recently abolished the death penalty. On May 30, people in New Mexico will hold a protest of the 200th execution under Rick Perry of Texas.

Date and Time: May 30, 2009 from 12pm to 1pm Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Street: Central Ave and Tulane Dr
Contact: Christy Armell at: christy_n_haylie505@yahoo.com

Montreal, Canada Protest of the 200th Execution



Protest City
Montreal
Protest Description

Die-In to Protest Rick Perry's 200th Execution

The DP Coordination Team of Amnesty International Canada Francophone invites the public, organizations and its members to participate in a die-in.

When : June 2nd @ 5:30PM

Where : Ste-Catherine St., between Berri and St-Denis Streets (just off Berri-UQAM subway station)

This die-in is held for those wishing to express a strong message in favor of abolishing the death penalty in the State of Texas.

The re-enactment will represent the 200 executions pronounced by the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, since the beginning of his governorship in 2001, when he replaced George W. Bush.

We ask people to dress soberly; preferably all dressed in black.

For more information, please contact pdm.coordination@amnistie.ca or visit www.amnistie.ca/pdm.

La Coordination pour l'Abolition de la peine de mort d'Amnistie internationale Canada francophone invite le public, les organisations et ses sympathisants à participer à un "die-in".

Quand : Le 2 juin prochain à partir de 17h30
Où : Sur la rue Ste-Catherine, entre les rues Berri et St-Denis (à deux pas de la Station Berri-UQAM)

Ce "die-in" s'adresse à ceux et celles qui souhaitent exprimer un message en faveur de l'abolition de la peine de mort dans l'État du Texas.

La mise en scène représentera les 200 exécutions prononcées par le Gouverneur du Texas, Rick Perry, depuis le début de son mandat en 2001, alors qu'il a succédé à George W. Bush. Le mot d'ordre du rassemblement est la sobriété ; il sera préférable d'être habillé tout de noir.

Pour davantage d'informations, contactez pdm.coordination@amnistie.ca.

Begin Date June 2, 2009
Begin Time
5:30:00 PM
End Date June 2, 2009
End Time
6:30:00 PM

Location of the protest (if you already know the exact location)
Berri-UQAM Ste-Catherine St, between St-Denis and Berri Streets
Montreal, Quebec
Canada
Public Contact Information

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Was the Law of Parties Provision in HB 2267 Scuttled Based on Misinformation?

The Law of Parties provision of HB 2267 was taken out of the bill in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee yesterday after Governor Perry threatened to veto it if the bill was sent to him in the same form that it passed the House last Friday. I am concerned based on a couple of quotes in newspaper articles that the Law of Parties provision was scuttled based on misinformation and misunderstanding about the Law of Parties and about HB 2267.

For instance, the Austin American-Statesman has a quote from Williamson County Attorney John Bradley that indicates that he does not understand what the Law of Parties is and how HB 2267 would have affected it. He says in the Austin American-Statesman: "To exempt all defendants in capital cases because they didn’t pull the trigger “is irrational,” said Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley. “Under that reasoning, Hitler, Osama bin Laden and Charles Manson could never get the death penalty. You have to look at the facts of each case … whether their participation merits holding them culpable".

People like Hitler, Manson and Osama bin Laden would not have been prosecuted under Section 7.02(b) of Texas' Law of Parties, which is the section that would have been affected by HB 2267. Furthermore, for those people who are and would continue to be prosecuted under section 7.02 (b) (again not Hitler, Manson or bin Laden), HB 2267 would still hold them culpable, it just would limit the maximum punishment for non-killers convicted solely under that section to life in prison without parole.

HB 2267 said

(b) A defendant who is found guilty in a capital felony case only as a party under Section 7.02(b), Penal Code, may not be sentenced to death, and the state may not seek the death penalty in any case in which the defendant's liability is based solely on that
section.
Bradley's statement is one of the most absurd, irresponsible comments by a legal professional that I have ever heard. It is no wonder that prosecutors were able to get Perry to threaten to veto HB 2267 if they were telling lies like Bradley.

The Law of Parties in section 7.02 (b) says "If, in the attempt to carry out a conspiracy to commit one felony, another felony is committed by one of the conspirators, all conspirators are guilty of the felony actually committed, though having no intent to commit it, if the offense was committed in furtherance of the unlawful purpose and was one that should have been anticipated as a result of the carrying out of the conspiracy".

That section, together with Article 37.0711 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, allows the state to prosecute and sentence to death people who have no intent to kill and who in fact do not kill anyone, people like Kenneth Foster, Jr and Jeff Wood.

The Austin American-Statesman has a front page article in today's paper that also contains misinformation from Austin lawyer William "Rusty" Hubbarth, vice president of Justice for All. Hubbarth claims that a 1992 murder-for-hire case was a law of parties case, but he is wrong about murder-for-hire falling under the Law of Parties statute. The article says:

Austin lawyer William "Rusty" Hubbarth, vice president of Justice for All, a national victim advocacy group based in Houston, applauded the veto threat.

"I congratulate Gov. Perry for showing he has the courage to protect the interests of victims," Hubbarth said.

The problem with the bill, he said, was letting all capital co-defendants off the hook if they didn't pull a trigger.

As proof, he cited a 1992 case in which a husband hired a hit man through Soldier of Fortune magazine to kill his wife; the husband was convicted of premeditated murder and sentenced to death.
Hiring someone to kill someone else is not a Law of Parties case. Murder for remuneration is itself a capital crime in Texas.

A person who who hires someone to kill another person is charged with capital murder under section 19.03 of the Texas Penal Code, not under Section 7.02 of the Texas Penal Code, which is the Law of Parties section. Both the hiring of the person and the one who actually commits the murder is charged with capital murder and can receive the death penalty.

The Law of Parties is a different concept in which a person can be charged with capital murder if they are participants in another felony, such as robbery, and in the course of that first felony, an accomplice commits a second felony (murder), then anyone who was an accomplice in the first felony (robbery) can be charged with the second felony (murder), because the law says they "should have anticipated" that a murder could occur.

Law of Parties cases are very rare. There have been only 3 Law of Parties executions in Texas out of the total of 438 executions, which is less than one percent.

The Statesman is doing a disservice to its readers by publishing misinformation from people like Bradley and Hubbarth. Ignorant misinformation given out by an elected county attorney like Bradley is particularly appalling. A newspaper has an obligation to correct false information it gives out, so that its readers can make informed judgments about public policies reported in the news. It is just this sort of false understanding of the Law of Parties that leads some people to oppose ending the death penalty under the Law of Parties without understanding what the Law of Parties actually is. It is a law that allows people who have not killed anyone and who had no intention to kill anyone to be sentenced to death.

Bradley and Hubbarth made their statements for the Statesman after the action in yesterday's committee meeting, but I am concerned that similar misinformation may have been spread before the committee meeting. In light of the possibility that the Law of Parties provision in HB 2267 was taken out based on a misunderstanding of the bill and of the Law of Parties, I urge senators to have an informed discussion of the Law of Parties when HB 2267 reaches the floor of the senate and to then decide based on actual facts whether the Law of Parties provision should re-attached by amendment to HB 2267.

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Williamson County Attorney John Bradley Does Not Understand Law of Parties

Williamson County Attorney John Bradley does not understand what the Law of Parties is, according to this quote in the Austin American-Statesman: "To exempt all defendants in capital cases because they didn’t pull the trigger “is irrational,” said Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley. “Under that reasoning, Hitler, Osama bin Laden and Charles Manson could never get the death penalty. You have to look at the facts of each case … whether their participation merits holding them culpable".

HB 2267 said

(b) A defendant who is found guilty in a capital felony case
only as a party under Section 7.02(b), Penal Code, may not be
sentenced to death, and the state may not seek the death penalty in
any case in which the defendant's liability is based solely on that
section.
People like Hitler, Manson and Osama bin Laden would not have been prosecuted under Section 7.02(b).

For a County Attorney to make that statement is the most absurd comment by a legal professional that I have ever heard of. It is no wonder that prosecutors were able to get Perry to threaten to veto HB 2267 if they were telling lies like Bradley.

The Law of Parties in section 7.02 (b) says "If, in the attempt to carry out a conspiracy to commit one felony, another felony is committed by one of the conspirators, all conspirators are guilty of the felony actually committed, though having no intent to commit it, if the offense was committed in furtherance of the unlawful purpose and was one that should have been anticipated as a result of the carrying out of the conspiracy".

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Rusty Hubbarth's Misinformation in Austin American-Statesman

The Austin American-Statesman has an article in today's paper about the Law of Parties bill being altered by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee yesterday after Governor Rick Perry threatened to veto the bill if it passed the Senate with a provision to end the death penalty in Law of Parties cases. The article contains some misinformation from Austin lawyer William "Rusty" Hubbarth, vice president of Justice for All. Hubbarth claims that a 1992 murder-for-hire case was a law of parties case, but he is wrong. Hiring someone to kill someone else is not a Law of Parties case. Murder for remuneration is itself a capital crime. Law of Parties cases are very rare. There have been only 3 Law of Parties executions in Texas out of the total of 438 executions, which is less than one percent.

A person who who hires someone to kill another person is charged with capital murder under section 19.03 of the Texas Penal Code, not under Section 7.02 of the Texas Penal Code, which is the Law of Parties section. Both the hiring of the person and the one who actually commits the murder is charged with capital murder and can receive the death penalty.

The Law of Parties is a different concept in which a person can be charged with capital murder if they are participants in another felony, such as robbery, and in the course of that first felony, an accomplice commits a second felony (murder), then anyone who was an accomplice in the first felony (robbery) can be charged with the second felony (murder), because the law says they "should have anticipated" that a murder could occur.

The Statesman is doing a disservice to its readers if it does not correct the misinformation in the article. A newspaper has an obligation to correct false information it gives out, so that its readers can make informed judgments about public policies reported in the news. It is just this sort of false understanding of the Law of Parties that leads some people to oppose ending the death penalty under the Law of Parties without understanding what the Law of Parties actually is. It is a law that allows people who have not killed anyone and who had no intention to kill anyone to be sentenced to death.


Veto threat dooms change in death penalty law
Measure banning execution of people who haven't killed won't advance.
By Mike Ward
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Friday, May 22, 2009

Death penalty opponents have long decried a Texas law that allows the state to impose the ultimate punishment — execution — on people who have not killed anyone.

Legislation to change that was working its way toward Gov. Rick Perry's desk Thursday, when its sponsor said a threatened veto forced him to drop the controversial provision that would have exempted participants in capital crimes who did not pull the trigger.

"We wanted that provision to stay in, but the governor's office made it clear they would veto the bill if that went through," said state Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen.

Hinojosa amended the legislation to require only separate trials for co-

defendants in capital murder cases in which one or more of the defendants did not kill anyone.

Though he was not satisfied with the change, Hinojosa said, "we're not going to get any progress on this area of law until we get another governor. I realize that, so we do what we can."

Perry's office did not return phone calls Thursday evening.

Austin lawyer William "Rusty" Hubbarth, vice president of Justice for All, a national victim advocacy group based in Houston, applauded the veto threat.

"I congratulate Gov. Perry for showing he has the courage to protect the interests of victims," Hubbarth said.

The problem with the bill, he said, was letting all capital co-defendants off the hook if they didn't pull a trigger.

As proof, he cited a 1992 case in which a husband hired a hit man through Soldier of Fortune magazine to kill his wife; the husband was convicted of premeditated murder and sentenced to death.

As approved by the House last week, the bill would have made a significant change in the state's death-penalty law, a change vehemently opposed by prosecutors and cheered by death-penalty opponents.

Under current law, multiple defendants in a capital murder case can face execution, even though not all caused a death.

Texas has been criticized nationally in past years for cases in which the triggerman cut a deal with police and escaped execution, while a co-defendant who did not kill anyone was executed.

Although other states also hold accomplices responsible for others' crimes under the so-called law of parties, few of those states have a death penalty. None executes as many people as Texas, which has put to death more than 400 people since the state resumed executions in 1982.

Prosecutors in the past have argued that if defendants participate in a crime, even if they stood and watched an accomplice commit murder, they should be held equally accountable — and several have been sentenced to death.

After the disputed wording was deleted Thursday, the bill was passed unanimously by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, the last stop before the measure goes to the full Senate for a vote.

When the measure passed the House on May 15, its sponsors tagged it the "Kenneth Foster Jr. Act," after a man whose death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by Perry in 2007.

A former member of a San Antonio crime gang, Foster was sentenced to die as an accessory to the Aug. 25, 1996, slaying of Michael LaHood Jr., a 25-year-old law school student who was gunned down during a botched robbery.

Foster, then 19, drove the getaway car, which was parked 80 feet away.

Foster's impending execution had drawn a flood of protests from around the world, with South African peace activist Desmond Tutu and former President Jimmy Carter among the hundreds who filed written protests to stop the execution — all arguing that Texas was taking the life of a man who had not killed anyone.

In commuting the sentence, Perry noted that Foster was tried, convicted and sentenced alongside the triggerman, Mauriceo Brown. Perry said that could have tainted the jury's decision.

"After carefully considering the facts of this case, along with the recommendation from the Board of Pardons and Paroles, I believe the right and just decision is to commute Foster's sentence," Perry said at the time. "I am concerned about Texas law that allowed capital murder defendants to be tried simultaneously, and it is an issue I think the Legislature should examine."

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

HB 2267, Kenneth Foster Jr Act, to Be Heard in Senate Committee Thursday, May 21

HB 2267 will be heard in the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice, Thursday, May 21, at 1:30 PM or upon adjournment of the Senate.

This is the law of parties bill by Rep Terri Hodge and Rep Harold Dutton, recently renamed the Kenneth Foster, Jr Act. It would require separate trials in capital cases and would prohibit the state from seeking the death penalty against co-defendants in Law of Parties cases if they are not the person who actually killed someone.

Please come to the hearing and sign a Witness Affirmation Form in in favor of HB 2267.

The hearing will be in room E1.014.

If you can not attend the hearing, then call the offices of the Committee members and urge them to vote in favor of HB 2267.

Please call Texas State Senators and Urge Them to Vote for HB 2267

If you live in Texas, click here to find out who your state senator is.

After you have first called your own state senator, move on to calling the members of the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice (Listed below).

After you call the committee members, just start calling any or all of the other state senators from this list.

Sample Message (change it to your own words) "Hello, I am calling to urge Senator X to vote in favor of HB 2267, the "Kenneth Foster, Jr Act". It has already been approved by the Texas House of Representatives. HB 2267 would require separate trials for co-defendants in capital trials and would prohibit the state from seeking the death penalty for people who do not kill anyone but are convicted under the Law of Parties. I do not believe it is fair to sentence someone to death, like Kenneth Foster was, if they did not kill anyone.

The Law of Parties allows people who "should have anticipated" a murder to receive the death penalty for the actions of another person who killed someone. A person sentenced to death under the Law of Parties has not killed anyone. They are accomplices or co-conspirators of one felony, such as robbery, during which another person killed someone, but a person should not be executed for the actions of another person.

Thank you and call your state senator today!

Members of the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice


Chair, John Whitmire
Phone: (512) 463-0115
Email Form

Vice-Chair, Kel Seliger
Phone:(512)463-0131
Email Form

John Carona
Phone:(512) 463-0116
Email Form

Rodney Ellis
Phone:(512) 463-0113
Email Form

Glenn Hegar
Phone: (512) 463-0118
Email Form

Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa (He is the Senate sponsor, so no need to call him)
Phone: (512) 463-0120
Email Form


Dan Patrick
Phone:(512) 463-0107
Email Form



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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

133rd Person Exonerated from Death Row

From the Death Penalty Information Center

Daniel Wade Moore was acquitted of all charges by a jury in Alabama on May 14. Moore was originally found guilty of the murder and sexual assault of Karen Tipton in 2002. The judge overruled the jury’s recommendation of a life sentence and instead sentenced him to death in January 2003, calling the murder one of the worst ever in the county. A new trial was ordered in 2003 because of evidence withheld by the prosecution. A second trial in 2008 ended in a mistrial with the jury deadlocked at 8-4 for acquittal. (Moore is the 133rd person to be exonerated and freed from death row since 1973, according to DPIC's record of exonerations.)
Just last week, the 132nd innocent person was exonerated.
132. Paul House Tennessee Conviction: 1986, Charges Dismissed: 2009

The state of Tennessee dropped all charges against House, who was accused of the 1985 rape and murder of Carolyn Muncey based largely on circumstantial evidence. Biological evidence used against him at trial was later found through DNA testing to belong to Muncey's husband. In House v. Bell, the U.S. Supreme Court considered the new DNA tesing and questions about blood stains on House's clothes. In 2006, the Court held that no reasonable juror would have found House guilty based on this new evidence, thus entitling him to raise constitutional issues that led to a reversal of his conviction. In 2008, a Tennessee judge ordered House released from prison, pending a new trial.

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Texas Today Executed 199th Person Under Governor Rick Perry

Texas today executed the 199th person under the current Texas governor Rick Perry, who has been governor for more executions than any other person in U.S. history. Michael Riley was the 438th person executed since 1982 in the nation's number one execution state.

To participate in protests of the 200th execution on June 2, visit protest200executions.com.

From the AP:

Texas has executed a man on death row for more than two decades for fatally stabbing a convenience store clerk during a robbery.

Fifty-one-year-old Michael Lynn Riley was pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m. Tuesday. He was the 15th convicted murderer executed this year in the nation's most active death penalty state.

Riley was condemned for the 1986 slaying of Wynona Harris, a 23-year-old clerk at a convenience store in his hometown of Quitman, about 75 miles east of Dallas.

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Video of John Holbrook Speaking at Opening Night of Art Show at Texas Capitol

Watch video on YouTube.

"Images from Texas Death Row" to be Exhibited in the Ground Floor Rotunda of the Texas Capitol Monday, May 18 - Friday May 22

Event: Images from Texas Death Row "The Photography of John Holbrook"

Sponsor: Texas Friends and Allies Against the Death Penalty

Dates: May 18 - May 22

Where: The Texas State Capitol Building in the 'Ground Floor Rotunda' (Take elevator down to G)

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Execution Today in Texas of Michael Riley - 199th Person Executed Under Rick Perry

Texas is set to execute the 199th person under the current Texas governor Rick Perry, who has been governor for more executions than any other person in U.S. history. Michael Riley would be the 438th person executed since 1982 in the nation's number one execution state.

Call Governor Perry at 512-463-1782 to protest today's execution.

To participate in protests of the 200th execution on June 2, visit protest200executions.com.

From the AP:

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) - A man condemned for the 1986 stabbing death of an East Texas store clerk during a robbery faces execution tomorrow.

Michael Riley would be the 15th condemned killer to have his penalty carried out this year in Texas.

Authorities say Riley was a regular customer at the Shop-A-Minit store in Quitman when he killed clerk Wynona Lynn Harris and stole about $1,000.

Riley in 2005 was within days of execution when lawyers won a court-ordered reprieve by arguing that he was mentally disabled and ineligible for execution.

But Riley says he's not expecting a stay this time around, and he's asked friends "to not pray for no stay."

The Texas Pardons and Parole Board voted Friday not to recommend granting a 120-day reprieve sought by the defense.

Quitman is about 75 miles east of Dallas.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

"Images from Texas Death Row " Exhibit at Texas Capitol May 18-22

Please come to the opening day reception for the exhibit of John Holbrook's death row photographs in the Texas Capitol at 6 PM on Monday and the artist's talk at 7 PM.

"Images from Texas Death Row" to be Exhibited in the Ground Floor Rotunda of the Texas Capitol
Monday, May 18 - Friday May 22

Event: Images from Texas Death Row "The Photography of John Holbrook"
Sponsor: Texas Friends and Allies Against the Death Penalty
Dates: May 18 - May 22

Where: The Texas State Capitol Building in the 'Ground Floor Rotunda' (Take elevator down to G)

Reception May 18 at 6 PM in the Texas Capitol Members Lounge - Extension, Room E2.1002 (Take elevator down to E2)

Artist's Talk May 18 at 7:00 p.m. in the Ground Floor Rotunda

Photographer John Holbrook
johnholbrook@sbcglobal.net

Artist’s Statement

These images are of current Texas death row inmates. The photographs were taken in 2008 at the Polunsky and Gatesville units. Ultimately, the message I wish to convey through my art, is simple. The only way we can truly stop suffering is to love and forgive those who have caused that suffering. I have chosen to photograph both those who are clearly guilty of the crimes for which they have been condemned as well as some who have claims of innocence. Guilt or innocence is irrelevant to the point I wish to make with these photographs. My photography is intended to communicate the idea of forgiveness. I want to share this liberating truth that I have learned.

As a private investigator for 17 years, I work capital murder cases. In 1995 I was assigned to a case involving the double homicide of a North Texas teenage couple. The victims were tortured and murdered. I worked on the defense team for one of the defendants. While working the case, I spent hours examining the crime scene evidence, including graphic photographs. Some years later, I started to experience anxiety when I saw anything remotely similar to the injuries done to the victims.

I sought help from a psychologist regarding this anxiety. I was told I likely had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The doctor determined that my photography at that time, pictures of homeless and social outcasts shown in a spiritual light, was a subconscious attempt to correct the 'bad pictures' I saw while working the capital murder case .

Ultimately, I learned that I could overcome PTSD by loving and forgiving those who had caused it.

Some family members of murder victims choose to honor their loved ones by asking prosecutors not to seek the death penalty. However, in other cases in order to get a death sentence, prosecutors sometimes argue that the victim’s loved ones endorse the death of the accused. It is said that the surviving loved ones, “Need closure”. Through my pictures, I argue that this disables the survivors’ ability to forgive and accept reconciliation with the person in the future. To me, execution is a grave injustice. Execution virtually denies us the ability to forgive and reconcile with the convicted in the future … ultimately denying everyone involved the ability to stop suffering.

I maintain that it takes a work of art to ultimately address the collective consciousness. Art is a wonderful medium to encourage and enhance civic engagement and dialogue. It was Uncle Tom’s Cabin that spoke and turned the tide against slavery in America. I hope that my images will modestly follow in its footsteps. I aspire to help turn the tide against the death penalty.

New Mexico abolished the death penalty in 2009. New York and New Jersey have also abolished the death penalty in recent years. Last week, the House of Representatives in Connecticut voted to abolish the death penalty. In 2009, there were two bills filed in the Texas House of Representatives to abolish the death penalty.

www.holbrookphoto.com

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Call Texas State Senators and Urge Them to Vote Yes on HB 2267, "The Kenneth Foster, Jr Act"

The Texas House of Representatives has passed House Bill 2267, "The Kenneth Foster, Jr Act". Sponsored by Rep. Terri Hodge (D – Dallas), the bill would eliminate the death penalty as a sentencing option under the controversial Texas Law of Parties. It would also require separate trials of co-defendants in capital cases. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Please call Texas State Senators and Urge Them to Vote for HB 2267

If you live in Texas, click here to find out who your state senator is.

Click here for a list of all Texas senators.

After you have first called your own state senator, move on to calling the members of the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice (Listed below).

After you call the committee members, just start calling any or all of the other state senators from this list.

Sample Message (change it to your own words) "Hello, I am calling to urge Senator X to vote in favor of HB 2267, the "Kenneth Foster, Jr Act". It has already been approved by the Texas House of Representatives. HB 2267 would require separate trials for co-defendants in capital trials and would prohibit the state from seeking the death penalty for people who do not kill anyone but are convicted under the Law of Parties. I do not believe it is fair to sentence someone to death, like Kenneth Foster was, if they did not kill anyone.

The Law of Parties allows people who "should have anticipated" a murder to receive the death penalty for the actions of another person who killed someone. A person sentenced to death under the Law of Parties has not killed anyone. They are accomplices or co-conspirators of one felony, such as robbery, during which another person killed someone, but a person should not be executed for the actions of another person.

Thank you and call your state senator today!

Members of the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice


Chair, John Whitmire
Phone: (512) 463-0115
Email Form

Vice-Chair, Kel Seliger
Phone:(512)463-0131
Email Form

John Carona
Phone:(512) 463-0116
Email Form

Rodney Ellis
Phone:(512) 463-0113
Email Form

Glenn Hegar
Phone: (512) 463-0118
Email Form

Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa
Phone: (512) 463-0120
Email Form


Dan Patrick
Phone:(512) 463-0107
Email Form

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Texas House Passes Kenneth Foster, Jr Act (HB 2267, the Law of Parties Bill)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

CONTACTS: Scott Cobb, President, Texas Moratorium Network, admin@texasmoratorium.org, 512-552-4743;
Bryan McCann, Campaign to End the Death Penalty, bmccann@mail.utexas.edu, 512-739-4024

Texas House of Representatives Passes Law of Parties Bill (HB 2267)
Amendment Adopted for the Bill to be Known as "The Kenneth Foster Jr, Act"


Austin, TX – May 15, 2009 – The Texas House of Representatives today passed House Bill 2267, "The Kenneth Foster, Jr Act". Sponsored by Rep. Terri Hodge (D – Dallas), the bill would eliminate the death penalty as a sentencing option under the controversial Texas Law of Parties. It would also require separate trials of co-defendants in capital cases. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

The Texas Law of Parties gained national prominence in 2007 during the high profile case of Kenneth Foster, Jr., whose death sentence was commuted by Governor Rick Perry following a national grassroots movement to halt his execution.

“It is my hope that in the future no other families have to deal with the emotional, psychological and financial hell associated with having a loved one on death row for a murder they factually did not commit, like my family has had to deal with for the last 13 years,” said Terri Been, sister of Texas death row inmate Jeff Wood. Wood was sentenced to death under the Law of Parties.

“This bill, when passed, will make me even prouder to be a resident of Texas,” said Kenneth Foster, Sr., father of Kenneth Foster, Jr. “Our family knows first hand the injustices of the Law of Parties, and Rep. Hodge’s bill is a step in the right direction.”

Although Hodge’s bill is not retroactive, and therefore would not affect any current cases like Jeff Wood's, several families of death row inmates convicted under the Law of Parties have lobbied in favor of the legislation.

“This is a major victory for the families impacted by this unfair law,” said Bryan McCann of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty. “We are told the death penalty is reserved for the worst of the worst, but its application under the Law of Parties affords prosecutors far too much discretion in pursuing the most severe form of punishment.”

Executions under the Law of Parties are very rare. Three people have been executed in Texas under the Law of Parties, which amounts to 0.6 percent of the 437 total executions in Texas. The last such execution in Texas was in 1993.

"The Kenneth Foster, Jr Act is a much-needed reform. The current law allowing accomplices who have not killed anyone to pay the ultimate penalty for a murder committed by another person is fundamentally unjust", said Scott Cobb, president of Texas Moratorium Network.

Texas Moratorium Network (TMN) is a non-profit organization with the primary goal of mobilizing statewide support for a moratorium on executions in Texas. Web: http://stopexecutions.blogspot.com. The Campaign to End the Death Penalty is a grassroots organization dedicated to abolishing the death penalty. Web: http://www.myspace.com/cedpaustin.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Law of Parties bill HB 2267 Passes Texas House on 2nd Reading

The Texas House of Representatives just passed the Law of Parties bill (HB 2267) on second reading. There was no objection. It passed on a voice vote. It now must pass on 3rd reading by the deadline of Friday at midnight. If it passes on third reading, then it goes to the Senate.

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Law of Parties Bill 4 Away From Vote in Texas House

The Law of Parties bill (HB 2267) by Rep Terri Hodge and Rep Harold Dutton is only 4 bills away from a vote in the Texas House.

Watch the video live from the Texas House here
(opens a real player stream).

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Law of Parties Bill 13 Away from vote in Texas House

The Law of Parties bill (HB 2267) by Rep Terri Hodge and Rep Harold Dutton is only 13 bills away from a vote in the Texas House.

Watch the video live from the Texas House here
(opens a real player stream).

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Update on HB 2267 (Law of Parties bill)

We called Rep Hodge's office at 9 tonight and talked to her directly. She said HB 2267 is still on the list of bills that could be voted on by the fill House and they are hoping to get to it before midnight tomorrow, which is the deadline for voting on bills on second reading. After that, it would have to be added as an amendment to a House bill on third reading or to a senate bill, but it would have to be a related bill. Let's hope they vote on it tomorrow.

HB 111 by Rep Pena is also still alive and could get voted on tomorrow.

As usual, continue to call legislators and urge a vote on HB 2267.

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Update on Jenzabar Social Media Leadership Award

The Texas anti-death penalty groups who were nominated for the Social Media Leadership Award are finalists for the award, which will be announced by Friday. Like the Foundation, we were very impressed with all the groups who were nominated. We have learned a lot by learning how other non-profits are using social media to advance their causes and create online communities to build their movements.

We have big plans if we are fortunate enough to win the award and the $3,000 prize, including building a new online portal for the Texas anti-death penalty community and its friends and allies around the world to work together to stop executions in Texas. Keep your fingers crossed that we win.

There are a couple of systems we are considering to use for the new portal. The first system under consideration is Word Press MU with buddypress.org. That system would allow multiple blogs from different people and groups The second system under consideration is Open Publish, which is Drupal based, so we could use that with CiviCRm.

You can join our community on Ning.com to protest the 200th execution under Texas Governor Rick Perry.

From the Jenzabar blog:

Selection Process Still Underway
May 13, 2009 · No Comments

Due to the quality of the submissions/campaigns that are currently under review, the Foundation is still in the process of selecting the winner of the Social Media Leadership Award. Thank you for your continued patience. The winner will be announced by this Friday.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Report from Texas House on HB 2267 - the Law of Parties Bill

We are at the Texas House sitting in the gallery waiting for a vote on HB 2267, the Law of Parties bill. Our group is Scott Cobb, Terri Been, Alison Dieter, Lawrence Foster and Kenneth Foster Sr. Bryan McCann was here earlier, but had to leave.

We handed out information on HB 2267 to legislators as they arrived for the morning session. We talked to the bill author Terri Hodge, who said she doesn't expect the bill to get voted on today because they are so behind on other bills on the schedule. It likely will be tomorrow.

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Texas Anti-Death Penalty Groups Named Finalists for Jenzabar Social Media Leadership Award

The Jenzabar Foundation Social Media Leadership Award – FINALISTS
May 11, 2009

The Foundation would like to reiterate how impressed we were with all of the submissions from the 15 organizations that nominated their campaigns. The following FIVE organizations received the most votes, and thus, are the finalists for The Jenzabar Foundation Soical Media Leadership Award:

-The Stolen Chair Theatre Company

-Dream Activist

-Texas Friends and Allies Against the Death Penalty

-Forge

-The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

The winner will be selected from this pool of campaigns and will be announced by the Foundation on Wednesday, May 13th.

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Call Texas State Reps and Urge Them to Vote Yes on HB 2267 Today on the Floor of the House

HB 2267 (the Law of Parties bill) is on the General State Calendar and could be voted on by the full Texas House of Representatives today, or tomorrow if they do not get to it today.

If passed, this bill would prohibit Texas from seeking the death penalty for people who do not kill but are convicted under the Law of Parties and it would require separate trials for co-defendants in death penalty cases.

If you live in Texas call your own Texas state representative today and urge them to vote for HB 2267. Click here to find out who your Texas state representative is.

After you call your own state representative, you can call any other state representative from this list.

Tell the office you call that HB 2267 is on the General State Calendar for a vote by the full House.

Sample Message (change it to your own words) "Hello, I am calling to urge Representative X to vote in favor of HB 2267, the Law of Parties bill. It is on the General State Calendar. HB 2267 would require separate trials for co-defendants in capital trials and would prohibit the state from seeking the death penalty for people who do not kill anyone but are convicted under the Law of Parties. I do not believe it is fair to sentence someone to death, like Kenneth Foster was, if they did not kill anyone."

The Law of Parties allows people who "should have anticipated" a murder to receive the death penalty for the actions of another person who killed someone. A person sentenced to death under the Law of Parties has not killed anyone. They are accomplices or co-conspirators of one felony, such as robbery, during which another person killed someone. A person should not be executed for the actions of another person.

Thank you and call your state rep today!

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Midnight Friday Deadline to Help Texas Anti-Death Penalty Groups Win $3,000; Vote for Us Today!

The deadline to vote for Texas anti-death penalty groups in the Jenzabar Social Media Leadership Award contest for $3,000 is Friday, May 8, at midnight.

They will announce the finalists on May 11 and the winner on May 13. We are doing great, especially considering our entry is made up of all-volunteer groups that are able to accomplish a lot with very little funding.

Forward this to your friends and let's bring this money to Texas to use against the death penalty in the state where on June 2 the governor will be in office for the 200th execution since he became governor.

Several Texas anti-death penalty groups are jointly entered in the Jenzabar Social Media Leadership Award contest for $3,000. The winner is the entry that gets the most people to comment on their entry by May 8, so to "vote", you leave a comment on the blog post of their nomination. They deserve to win because they have used social media tools very effectively to jointly mobilize against the Texas death penalty.

Go here to vote by leaving a comment on the nomination page for our entry.

We just had another great success by getting a floor vote for Monday on the Law of Parties bill that we have been lobbying in favor this session. We held a lobby day on March 24, we met with legislators again last week, we testified in committee, we made many phone calls, we held a rally on May 2, and now the vote is this Monday. We could not have done it without social media.

The cooperating groups are Texas Moratorium Network, Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement, the Austin chapter of Campaign to End the Death Penalty, Texas Students Against the Death Penalty, Kids Against the Death Penalty, Students Against the Death Penalty and the Texas Death Penalty Education and Resource Center. They have a cause on Facebook called Abolish the Death Penalty in Texas. Each organization brings unique skills and experiences to the cause.

This alliance is a great example of how small organizations can have a remarkable impact way out of proportion to their funding by using social media tools to work together.

These grassroots groups work against the death penalty in the state that has executed more people than any other state. Texas has executed 437 people since 1982. The second place state has executed 103.

A few weeks ago, members of the groups were at the Texas capitol from 9:30 to 1 AM meeting with legislators about HB 2267 to end the death penalty under the Law of Parties, talking to the media and testifying at the hearing on the Sharon Keller impeachment resolution. In 2007, Texas Moratorium Network used online social media tools to gather around 1,900 signatures on a judicial complaint against Keller. Here is a video of a news report on Austin TV Monday night.

While at the capitol, we updated supporters online by posting to the blog, using Twitter and uploading video to Facebook and YouTube, all good examples of using social media tools to affect change and build a movement, and a good reason our groups should win the Social Media Leadership Award. Vote for us at the link below.

Go to the page and scroll down to the comment form. There are four fields, name, email, website (you can leave that blank or put in your own personal website or a website you like), and a text field for a comment.

Our entry is called "Texas Friends and Allies Against the Death Penalty"

From the entry:

This alliance is a great example of how small organizations can have a remarkable impact way out of proportion to their funding by using social media tools to work together.

Texas is a challenging political environment in which to work against the death penalty, but these groups have found a way to make significant progress against the death penalty by working together both offline and online using social media tools for education, outreach and grassroots organizing.

If you think these groups have been doing a good job using online social activism tools, especially considering that they are all-volunteer organizations, please vote for us in The Jenzabar Foundation Social Media Leadership Award by leaving a comment on our entry.

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Call Your State Rep to Urge Them to Vote Yes on Law of Parties Bill (HB 2267)

We just talked to Terri Hodge's office at 11:15 PM tonight and found out that HB 2267 (the Law of Parties bill) passed the Calendars Committee today and was placed on the General State Calendar for a vote by the full House May 8, which means it will likely be voted on this Friday on the floor of the House. Hodge's office says there is a small chance they could vote on it as soon as Thursday sometime, but more likely it will be Friday.

Number one priority is if you live in Texas call your own Texas state representative today and urge them to vote for HB 2267.

Click here to watch a video of Rep Hodge speaking after HB 2267 passed the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee.

If passed, this bill would prohibit the Texas from seeking the death penalty for people who do not kill but are convicted under the Law of Parties and it would
require separate trials for co-defendants in death penalty cases.

If you live in Texas, click here to find out who your state representative is.

Tell the office you call that HB 2267 is on the General State Calendar for May 8.

This is what we have been working so hard for the last several months! The hard work is paying off. Like with every bill, we could still lose the floor vote, but if people make calls to their state representatives, then that will improve our chances.

Sample Message (change it to your own words) "Hello, I am calling to urge Representative X to vote in favor of HB 2267, the Law of Parties bill. It is on the General State Calendar for May 8. HB 2267 would require separate trials for co-defendants in capital trials and would prohibit the state from seeking the death penalty for people who do not kill anyone but are convicted under the Law of Parties. I do not believe it is fair to sentence someone to death, like Kenneth Foster was, if they did not kill anyone.

The Law of Parties allows people who "should have anticipated" a murder to receive the death penalty for the actions of another person who killed someone. A person sentenced to death under the Law of Parties has not killed anyone. They are accomplices or co-conspirators of one felony, such as robbery, during which another person killed someone, but a person should not be executed for the actions of another
person.

Thank you and call your state rep today!

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

HB 2267 (Law of Parties bill) Voted out of Calendars for Vote on House Floor May 8

I just talked to Terri Hodge's office at 11:15 PM tonight and found out that HB 2267 (the Law of Parties bill) passed Calendars today and was placed on the General State Calendar for May 8, which means it could be voted on this Friday on the floor of the House. Hodge's office says there is a small chance they could vote on it tomorrow sometime, but more likely it will be Friday.

Number one priority is everyone call your state representative tomorrow and urge them to vote for HB 2267. Tell the office you call that HB 2267 is on the General State Calendar for May 8.

Go here to find out who your state representative is.


Scott Cobb

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Give a Graduation Gift for Hooman Hedayati: Help Texas Anti-Death Penalty Groups Win a $3,000 Award

Hi, this is Hooman Hedayati. Four years ago while I was still in High School I attended the 2005 Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break in Austin. Afterwards I founded Texas Students Against the Death Penalty and then a national group called Students Against the Death Penalty. Now, after four years of continued activism against the death penalty during my college career, I am about to graduate from the University of Texas at Austin.

I plan to continue to fight the death penalty after I graduate until we abolish the death penalty everywhere. During my college career, I have kept very busy fighting the death penalty. Most recently for instance, I testified on April 27 at the hearing in the Texas Legislature to impeach Judge Sharon Keller. You can watch the video of me testifying here.

I want to ask you for a graduation present. Please help Texas anti-death penalty groups win the Jenzabar Social Media Leadership Award and the $3,000 prize to use against the death penalty in Texas. We need to win and bring those funds to Texas to fight the death penalty in the number one execution state.

http://tinyurl.com/cyf8fx

Several Texas anti-death penalty groups are jointly nominated in the Jenzabar Social Media Leadership Award and a chance to win $3,000 to use against the death penalty in Texas. The winner is the entry that gets the most people to comment on their nomination entry. To "vote", you just have to leave a comment on the blog post of our entry here. Your comment is your vote. The deadline to vote is May 8 at midnight.

We believe we deserve to win because we have been using social media tools very effectively to jointly mobilize against the Texas death penalty.

http://tinyurl.com/cyf8fx

There are four fields in the comment form, name, email, website (you can leave that blank or put in your own personal website or any website you want), and a field for your comment.

Our entry is called Texas Friends and Allies Against the Death Penalty.

From the entry:

I would like to nominate for The Jenzabar Foundation Social Media Leadership Award: a group of allied organizations in Texas that have been using social media to effectively work together against the Texas death penalty: Texas Moratorium Network, Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement, the Austin chapter of Campaign to End the Death Penalty, Texas Students Against the Death Penalty, Kids Against the Death Penalty, Students Against the Death Penalty and the Texas Death Penalty Education and Resource Center. These groups have a cause on Facebook called Abolish the Death Penalty in Texas. Each organization brings unique skills and experiences to the cause. Decisions on how to use any award money will be made jointly by these organizations.

This alliance is a great example of how small organizations can have a remarkable impact way out of proportion to their funding by using social media tools to work together.

Texas is a challenging environment in which to work against the death penalty, but these groups have found a way to make significant progress against the death penalty by working together both offline and online using social media tools for education, outreach and grassroots organizing.

Texas is a large state, so it is vitally important for groups here to use social media tools effectively. In the future, we want to increase our capacity to work for human rights in Texas by finding new ways to expand our use of online social media tools in order to identify new activists and grow our movement to achieve legislative victories on policy and to organize campaigns to stop specific executions.

Most recently, these groups all worked together to get the Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence to approve the bill to end the death penalty under the Law of Parties. We continue to push for a vote on that bill in the full House.

If you think these groups have been doing a good job using online social activism tools, especially considering that we are all-volunteer organizations, please vote for us in The Jenzabar Foundation Social Media Leadership Award by leaving a comment on our entry Thank you for helping us win the $3,000.

We have also started a new initiative to organize protests of the 200th execution under Texas Governor Rick Perry, which is likely to take place on June 2, 2009. More people have been executed under Perry than under any other governor in U.S. history. Go here to sign the petition to protest the 200th execution.

http://www.protest200executions.com/petition.php

We are looking for people to organize protests in many cities in the U.S. and around the world. We already have protests being organized in Houston, Austin, Huntsville and Paris France. More protest announcements will be coming soon.

Thank you,

Hooman Hedayati

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Everyone Call Your Daddy and See if You Are Wealthy Like Sharon Keller

DallasJustice.com has a post on the news that Sharon Keller turned out to be a lot wealthier than she was reporting in official documents to the Texas Ethics Commission. Everyone should probably call their own daddy and ask if you are also wealthier than you thought.

From DallasJustice.com:

According to the financial statement, and the reporting of the Dallas Morning News, these newly revealed assets include:

1. two fast-food restaurants
2. a bank
3. a home on Garland Road
4. another home on Garland Road
5. a commercial tract in Euless, Texas (1.5 acres)
6. 22 Certificates of Deposit (CDs) in four different banks
7. $110,000 investment income.

Must've Been A Nice Surprise

Boy howdy. Wouldn't that be great -- to discover that you own a bank, a couple of restaurants, two houses on Garland Road, some land, some CDs, and you're gonna get over $100K each year in investment income?!! Wow.

Sources:

Dallas Morning News
http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/localnews/stories/DN-keller_02pro.ART.State.Edition2.4aa5bed.html

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Protest the 200th Execution Under Texas Governor Rick Perry

On June 2, 2009, the 200th execution under Texas Governor Rick Perry is scheduled to take place. Since he became governor of Texas in December 2000, Perry has allowed more executions to proceed than any other governor in U.S. history. The date of the 200th execution could change if any scheduled executions are successfully stopped.

The Texas anti-death penalty community asks people around the world to focus your attention on Texas and join us in protesting the 200th execution carried out under Rick Perry. Altogether, Texas has executed 437 people since 1982, including 152 under former Texas Governor George W. Bush.

How you can protest the 200th execution under Texas Governor Rick Perry

Visit http://www.protest200executions.com/.

1) On the day of the 200th execution, call Governor Perry at (512) 463-1782 and tell him your opinion on the death penalty. If you live in the U.S., you can use his the form on his website to email him. We suggest you both call him and email him. If you live outside the U.S., you can send him a letter in the postal mail. We would like to hand deliver letters to him, so please send your letter to the address below and we will deliver it to Rick Perry: You can send us your letter to Perry for us to deliver whether you live in the U.S. or another country.

Texas Moratorium Network

3616 Far West Blvd, Suite 117, Box 251

Austin, Texas 7831

2) Attend a protest in your city either on the day of the 200th execution or sometime before. If a protest is not scheduled, you can organize a protest. If you live outside the U.S., organize a protest at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Send us a photo or video of your protest by email and we will post it on this website and on YouTube. Or you can upload your photos and videos yourself to our social networking site or directly to our group on YouTube. If your organization is planning a protest, please let us know so that we can list your protest on this site.

3) Sign the petition and add your name to the list of people who are raising their voices to protest the 200th execution under Texas Governor Rick Perry.

4) Donate a symbolic 200 cents towards helping us organize against the Texas death penalty. That is one penny for every execution under Rick Perry. We are asking everyone to donate $2, which is the equivalent of 200 pennies. You are welcome to donate more if you can afford it, but everyone can afford to donate $2.

The artwork above by German artist Jasmin Hilmer represents the isolation of Texas in the world community. While most of the rest of the world, including all of Europe, have turned their backs on the use of capital punishment, Texas continues to execute people at a shocking rate.

This campaign is sponsored by Texas Moratorium Network, Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement, Campaign to End the Death Penalty - Austin, Students Against the Death Penalty, Texas Death Penalty Education and Resource Center, Abolish the Death Penalty Project on Amazee. If your organization would also like to be a sponsor, email us at admin@texasmoratorium.org or call us at 512-961-6389.

Sarah Hannah is organizing the protest in Huntsville. She will be announcing details later. If you would like to help her or let her know you will attend, you can contact her at 979-450-2179.

Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement is organizing the Houston protest. Contact them at Abolition.Movement@hotmail.com.

More protest annoucements coming soon.

Join our Social community at http://abolishtexasdeathpenalty.ning.com/

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