US Supreme Court refuses to hear case of Linda Carty, British grandmother facing execution in Texas

May 3, 2010

Reprieve is deeply disappointed by today’s Supreme Court decision not to consider the disastrous case of Linda Carty, a British grandmother facing imminent execution thanks to a flawed trial in Texas.

Linda has always protested her innocence and had hoped for the chance to persuade the highest court that her conviction is dangerously unreliable.

Although the Supreme Court accepts only a small minority of cases, Linda’s was widely believed to be crying out for consideration because of critically important issues of fairness and due process.

The British Government had filed a strongly-worded amicus brief to the Court, detailing serious errors by the State of Texas and stating that that had they been allowed to assist Linda, she would likely not be facing execution today.

Linda’s life is now in the hands of the Republican Governor of Texas, Rick Perry. 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.

The US law firm Baker Botts, representing Linda, are now considering next steps, but attention will shift towards seeking clemency in Texas.

Clare Algar, the Executive Director of Reprieve, said:

“We are shocked and dismayed by this decision, which will destroy Linda Carty and her loving family. Linda is the unluckiest woman on death row. Despite her compelling case, she has been repeatedly failed by the legal system — and now the Supreme Court has turned their back on her. These are desperate times for Linda, who now faces execution. We will be begging the Governor of Texas to look at the terrible injustices in this case and to show mercy.”

Linda Carty was convicted of murder 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 was Linda’s last hope and the final opportunity for the legal 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 were always 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.

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 katherine.oshea@reprieve.org.uk.

More details on Linda’s disastrous case at www.reprieve.org.uk/lindacarty. For more information please contact Katherine O’Shea katherine.oshea@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.’