British grandmother Linda Carty makes desperate final appeal to US Supreme Court in Washington DC

January 29, 2010

British grandmother Linda Carty makes desperate final appeal to US Supreme Court in Washington DC; earlier courts have refused to hear new evidence showing her conviction is unsafe.

Linda Carty, protesting her innocence, has made a last-ditch attempt to persuade the highest court in the USA that her conviction and death sentence is dangerously unreliable.

Linda was convicted following a catastrophically flawed trial in Texas; her case is a textbook example of how the US legal system can fail poor people facing the death penalty.

The Supreme Court is Linda’s last hope and the final opportunity for the system to correct the errors in her case. Her defence presents an argument that is solely focused on her lawyer’s ineptitude.

Her court appointed ‘defence’ lawyer, Jerry Guerinot, has sent more prisoners to death row than any other lawyer in the United States. He has put more people on death row than 26 of the states. The overwhelming failures of Linda’s defence at trial emerged only when pro bono US lawyers Baker Botts, assisted by Reprieve, took on her case. Still, the appeal courts have refused to hear key evidence showing that the notoriously inept Guerinot:

    Only spent 15 minutes with Linda before her capital trialFalsely told the courts she refused to meet with him until he gave her a bar of chocolate (she is allergic to chocolate)Failed to spot obvious flaws and inconsistencies in the prosecution case;Failed to interview witnesses;Failed to present evidence on her behalf; andFailed to inform the British government so it could intervene on her behalf.

The Supreme Court will decide her case in late March or early April. Attention will now shift to the intervention that the British government can make in the Supreme Court – due in mid-February.

Reprieve’s Director Clive Stafford Smith said: “Linda would probably have been acquitted, and would certainly not be on death row today, if she had received a half-way decent defence. This is a harsh example of the old adage – capital punishment means those without the capital get the punishment. These are desperate times for Linda, and the British government must do everything in their power to help save her life.”

The US Supreme Court only agrees to hear a small number of cases each year. If Linda’s petition is unsuccessful her life will be in the hands of the Governor of Texas. Since he succeeded George Bush as Governor nine years ago, Rick Perry has only granted clemency to one death row inmate; Kenneth Foster in 2007.

More details on Linda’s disastrous case at www.reprieve.org.uk/lindacarty. For more information please contact Sophie Walker sophie.walker@reprieve.org.uk 020 7427 1099.

Notes for Editors:

Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 33 prisoners in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, working on behalf of prisoners facing the death penalty, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’