Texas refuses to admit error in preventing the UK from helping British grandmother Linda Carty; ignores British government allegations in defiant argument to Supreme Court

April 12, 2010

In a bullish reply to the US Supreme Court, the State of Texas has ignored the British government’s dramatic claim that had they been allowed to assist their citizen Linda Carty, she may not be facing execution today.

Linda has always protested her innocence and is now seeking to persuade the highest court in the USA that her conviction and death sentence is dangerously unreliable. British government claims of serious failures by Texas are central to Linda’s argument that her defence was never properly heard.

The prestigious US law firm Baker Botts, together with Reprieve, has now filed a counter response to the court. In support, the British Government has filed an amicus brief detailing the prejudice flowing from the State’s and trial counsel’s failure to inform the British consulate about Carty’s arrest, violating the Bilateral Consular Convention. The State, however, apparently deemed these arguments unworthy of a response.

Michael Goldberg of Baker Botts said:

“Although the Supreme Court accepts only a small minority of the cases brought to it, this case, with its critically important issues, cries out for consideration. Our team has given its best and we cautiously look forward to next month’s decision”.

Linda Carty 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.

Linda’s argument centres on her state-appointed lawyer’s ineptitude. Jerry Guerinot has sent more prisoners to death row than any other lawyer in the United States, yet his overwhelming failures emerged only when Baker Botts, assisted by Reprieve, took on Linda’s case. Still, the appeal courts have refused to hear key evidence showing that Guerinot:

    Only spent 15 minutes with Linda before her capital trial Falsely 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 key witnesses; Failed to present evidence on her behalf; and Failed to inform the British government so it could intervene on her behalf.

The odds are stacked against Linda. It is difficult to get new evidence admitted in US capital appeals — even if that evidence shows the defendant’s innocence. Supreme Court Justice Scalia notoriously stated the current US law last year that it is not unconstitutional to execute an innocent person, provided the conviction was ‘fair’ at the initial trial stage.

A decision is expected from the Supreme Court in 1-6 weeks.

Reprieve’s Director Clive Stafford Smith said:

“It is not surprising that the Texas authorities have attempted to ignore the British government’s allegations against them. They are very serious indeed. Linda would probably have been acquitted, and would certainly not be on death row today, if Texas had fulfilled their basic responsibilities towards her. 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.

Reprieve has asked British citizens to send us their video pleas for Linda’s life to be spared. We have begun compiling these, and they can be viewed at: http://www.reprieve.org.uk/2010_04_10_messagefromthebritishpeople. The clips are also available for media use: please contact info@reprieve.org.uk.

More details on Linda’s disastrous case at www.reprieve.org.uk/lindacarty.

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.’

— Katherine O’SheaReprieveTel: 020 7427 1099Mob: 07931592674www.reprieve.org.uk

Reprieve delivers justice and saves lives