NEW VOICES: Former Georgia Supreme Court Justice Would Have Granted Troy Davis a Hearing


Death Penalty Information Center
Friday, July 9, 2010

Judge Norman Fletcher served on the Georgia Supreme Court and was in the majority that upheld Troy Davis's original conviction and death sentence on direct appeal.  However, Judge Fletcher has noted he was not on the court after many of the witnesses from Davis's trial recanted their testimony, and he probably would have voted in favor of a new evidentiary hearing for Davis if he was on the court today.  Judge Fletcher recently wrote about the wisdom of retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stevens regarding his decision in the Troy Davis case to grant such a hearing: "[His] leadership in this case was a triumph of the common-sense notion that innocence matters; it matters more than procedural technicalities. No matter whether one opposes or supports the death penalty, I would hope we can at least agree that the innocent should not be executed." Of Davis's case, he wrote further, "No matter the outcome of this case, Davis stands for the principle that the factual innocence or guilt of people sentenced to death matters. For those facing the irreversible punishment of death, we should always do our best to get to the truth. Never should procedural rules trump the consideration of newly discovered exculpatory evidence."

Judge Fletcher was a justice on the Georgia Supreme Court from 1989 through 2005, serving as chief justice from 2001 to 2005. He now serves on the Constitution Project's Right to Counsel Committee.

(N. Fletcher, "Stevens leaving legacy of judicial care," Atlanta Journal Consitution, June 22, 2010 (op-ed)).  See also Innocence and New Voices.  The evidentiary hearing for Troy Davis that was ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court took place on June 23-24 in the U.S. District Court in Savannagh, Georgia.  The judge has asked the attorneys from both sides to submit concluding briefs by July 7.  A decision on whether the hearing "clearly establishes" Davis's innocence will follow.