Letter from Bianca Jagger to Prime Minister David Cameron about Linda Carty
September 7, 2010
6 September 2010
The Right Honourable David Cameron Prime MinisterHouse of CommonsLondonSW1A 0AA
Dear Mr Cameron,
I am writing to appeal to you to intercede on behalf of Linda Carty, a British grandmother on death row in Texas. I urge you to consider her case and to support her appeal for clemency to the Governor of Texas.
For nearly three decades I have campaigned for justice and human rights throughout the world. During that period I have witnessed the State machinery of death at work, selectively targeting the poor, the dispossessed, members of a minority and those who cannot afford adequate legal council. The death penalty is unfair, arbitrary and capricious, often based on jurisprudence fraught with racial discrimination and judicial bias.
Last year the US executed 52 of its citizens; there are currently 3261 prisoners on death row. One of them is Linda Carty, a British citizen, who faces imminent execution. As with so many other death penalty convictions, Linda’s case was fraught with errors and is an egregious miscarriage of justice.
Linda Carty is a British citizen and, under the bilateral consular convention between the US and the UK, the US authorities should have informed the British consular officials of her detention. Linda was born in 1958 on the Caribbean island of St Kitts. After finishing school, she worked as an elementary school teacher and helped children from low-income families. In 1982, after Linda separated from her partner, she moved to Texas with her two year old daughter. While studying for her pharmacology degree at the University of Houston, Linda was raped and fell pregnant. She subsequently gave the baby up for adoption. Linda was recruited as an informant by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), in order to gather information on suspected drug traffickers of Caribbean origin. Her employer, Special Agent Charlie Mathis, swore in an affidavit that Linda risked her life for him on several occasions. This undercover work made Linda many formidable enemies. She believes that it was this work that led to her being framed for the kidnapping and murder of Joana Rodriguez in 2001Linda’s court appointed attorney, Jerry Guerinot failed to provide her with an adequate defence. He is renowned for his incompetence as a capital punishment defender; 20 out of his 24 clients have been sentenced to death. Clive Stafford-Smith, founder and director of Reprieve, says: “Jerry Guerinot has, in my opinion, the worst record of any capital defence lawyer in America. He has had more clients sentenced to death than most states have prisoners on death row . . . He’s shockingly bad.”
Guerinot met Linda two weeks before the trial started, and only for 15 minutes. He petitioned for and received state funding to go to Linda’s hometown in St Kitts in order to interview witnesses willing to testify in her favour. However, Guerinot never went to St Kitts. If he had gone, he could have gathered critical testimony from those who knew her, and who could have attested to Linda’s good character and her community outreach work. Guerinot failed to call relevant witnesses in the US including her DEA employer Special Agent Mathis. Guerinot also failed to spot obvious flaws and inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case and to investigate key mitigating evidence. The Federal Court of Appeals found that Guerinot performed disastrously.
Adequate legal representation is crucial in capital cases and as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said: “People who are well represented at trial do not get the death penalty”.In May and June 2010, the US Supreme Court rejected two appeals to review her case. Linda’s last hope is to seek mercy from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, and Rick Perry, the Republican Governor of Texas, who, in his nine years as Governor, has only granted clemency to one person, while over 200 people have been executed.If Linda Carty is executed, she will be the first British woman to be killed on death row in 55 years. An earlier intervention of the Consulate could have saved her life. The British Foreign Office stated, “The first we knew she was British was after she was sentenced to death. Had we known beforehand, we would have been in touch with her within 24 hours and would have made our position very clear to the Houston authorities – that we are opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances.”
Paul Lynch, the British Consul-General in Houston, has called the Carty conviction “a terrible failure of the system.” ‘If we had got involved at an early stage, it could have changed the case completely,’ he says, ‘We would have ensured she got the best legal representation.’ There are currently over 130 people on death row in the US from other countries, and many of them were not afforded their notification rights under the Vienna Convention.
The death penalty is a violation of our most inalienable right: the right to life, a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment done in the name of justice. There is no excuse for any country in the world, in the twenty first century to continue to execute their citizens.In my capacity as Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador and Founder and Chair of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, I respectfully urge you to speak out against this appalling miscarriage of justice, and to exhort the US authorities to grant clemency to Linda Carty. As Linda’s daughter, Jovelle Carty Joubert states, “it is not too late…we still have time to correct the wrong.”Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.
With kindest regards and all good wishes,
Founder and Chair, Bianca Jagger Human Rights FoundationCouncil of Europe Goodwill Ambassador Member of the Executive Director’s Leadership Council, Amnesty International, USATrustee, Amazon Charitable Trust