Troy Davis

Troy Davis bid to re-open hearing rejected

Friday, August 13, 2010, from the Savannah Morning News

A federal judge today rejected reconsideration of evidence for Troy Anthony Davis, ruling his lawyers did not provide the court with a “record on which the most accurate determination could be made.”

Those lawyers were “attempting… to create an incomplete and deceptive record, perverting the purpose of the rule,” U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr. ruled in a 3-page order.

“By intentionally presenting unreliable hearsay while keeping the (witness) out of court, (Davis) was seeking to prevent the court from receiving all of the evidence,” Moore ruled.

Davis is challenging his 1991 murder conviction and death sentence in the 1989 slaying of off-duty Savannah police officer Mark Allen MacPhail.

The action rejected efforts by attorneys for Davis to re-open evidence in his bid to convince Moore that new evidence “clearly” established Davis’ innocence.

Moore held hearings June 23 and 24 for that purpose.

A month later, Davis’ appellate team filed a motion seeking to re-open the record because they argued Moore had improperly barred several witnesses.

Attorneys with the attorney general’s office opposed the move, arguing Davis’ lawyers made strategic decisions not to call certain witnesses and should not now be allowed to benefit from their choices.

(source: Savannah Morning News)


Canvass Dates for Troy Davis

If you haven’t already, please call the office of Chatham County District Attorney Larry Chisolm at 912-652-7308 and ask Mr. Chisolm to reopen Troy’s case.

Also please join Amnesty International and other organizations for one or more weekend of canvassing for Troy. They have collected over 11000 signatures and hope to double that number.

Canvassing dates are:

August 15-16
August 29-30
September 5-6
September 19-20

We will drive to Savannah on Saturday afternoon and be back Sunday evening. If you can go, contact

Kathryn Hamoudah, kathryn.hamoudah(at)

Locally, email anna(at) or call 843-312-9741


No Media Access for Troy Davis

A few hours ago, I met with Troy Davis on death row.

As you know, he is facing the death penalty in Georgia for killing a police officer — but since his trial, seven out of nine witnesses have recanted or contradicted their testimony. And with no physical evidence to link him to the crime, it is likely he is innocent.

Besides the fact that Troy is facing execution for a crime that he may not have committed, he also told me that he is being denied the right to speak out on his own behalf despite the fact that others in his position are allowed to do so.

Please contact Commissioner Brian Owens of the Georgia Department of Corrections to demand that he remove the gag order on Troy Davis.

In my meeting with Troy, I discovered that 60 Minutes, Dateline, and the Associated Press have all been denied media access to Troy. When Georgia won’t let the media talk to the accused man, it is a flagrant abuse of his First Amendment rights.

In fact, the case of Troy Davis highlights how broken our criminal justice system is… and why we must reform it. Today, more than 60% of the people in prison are people of color. African Americans make up more than 40% of those on death row. This summer, the NAACP will launch a campaign to reform our country’s criminal justice system with the goal of making our communities safer, improving police performance, saving money, and keeping more of our young men and women out of prison. But Troy can’t wait for this summer. We need your help now.

An innocent man may be executed. You and I must work together to reform our country’s criminal justice system, and we must start by saving the life of one man. Please contact Commissioner Brian Owens of the Georgia Department of Corrections today and demand he give Troy the right to speak.

Benjamin Todd Jealous
President and CEO


Troy Davis Campaign Needs Help Memorial Day Weekend

Author: GFADP


*Help us campaign to prevent the execution of Troy Davis!*

Troy Davis is at risk of getting a fourth execution date very soon. This is it. We need your help in reaching out to the Savannah community to sign our petition urging the Board of Pardons and Parole to grant Troy clemency. This could make the difference in whether Troy is executed or granted clemency.

If you can commit your Memorial Day weekend to the campaign your expenses will be covered! If you live in or near Columbia and can go for part or all of the weekend, please call Kate at 803-771-4662 or email her at webbsite33(at)

We will be going out in teams to talk with folks about the case and collecting signatures. Our goal is to collect 9,000 signatures! We will equip you with everything you need to confidently do this, but most of all we are seeking a dynamic group who can really commit their weekend to working on behalf of Troy Davis.

If you are interested in joining our efforts, please email Lisa Adler at by May 20. Include your name, contact information, where you are currently living, and your school (if applicable). Please let us know briefly about your experience with Amnesty and/or other activism and why you want to join this weekend for Troy.

Costs: We will cover your lodging (Fri-Sun nights), transportation expenses (e.g. gas money) and meals (Sat-Mon). Also, please indicate if you can come to Savannah on Friday night and if not, when on Saturday you will arrive.


UPDATE: New Hearing for Troy Davis

Troy Davis case treads new legal ground ————————— Click here for a pdf of the court order

A federal judge in Savannah has directed parties in the Troy Davis death-penalty case to give him their positions as to whether a “free-standing actual innocence claim” is recognized by the U.S. Constitution.

Read the article at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling Monday that a federal court must hear evidence on behalf of Troy Davis in the 1989 slaying of off-duty Savannah policeman Mark MacPhail sends the case into uncharted waters.

The high court transferred the case to U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, something one justice said had not occurred in nearly 50 years.

Chatham County District Attorney Larry Chisolm said the court’s ruling will result in one of three things happening with the case:

— Continuing to Davis’ execution.

— Being sent back to Chatham County Superior Court for retrial.

— Further appeals.

“We do not expect a quick outcome in any event,” Chisolm said.

In a 3-2 opinion, the Supreme Court justices ordered the federal district court to “receive testimony and make findings of fact as to whether evidence that could not have been obtained at the time of trial clearly establishes (Davis’) innocence.”

Scott Poff, clerk for the Southern District court, said nothing will happen until the Supreme Court’s order is received here.

Normally, a civil case in the Savannah Division would be assigned, at least initially, to Chief Judge William T. Moore Jr. or Senior Judge B. Avant Edenfield, he said.

Or, Poff said, it could go to another judge on a special assignment.

U.S. Senior Judge John Nangle, who initially heard and rejected Davis’ arguments in federal court, has since died.

In U.S. District Court, Georgia’s attorney general would represent the prosecution.

Russell Willard, the attorney general’s spokesman, said that office will wait to see which judge is assigned. That judge, Willard said, probably will file an order and specify what procedure is to be followed.

If the district court rejects any new evidence, an appeal to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta would be likely.

If granted, the case would likely be returned to Chatham County Superior Court, where Chisolm would handle it.

‘Not a new trial’

Chisolm called the action “a very unusual move.”

“The citizens of Chatham County should be clear in their understanding that this is not a new trial of the case before a jury,” he said.

“The hearing of this case before a federal judge affords Troy Davis the opportunity to have any evidence that supports his innocence claim that was found after the trial to be heard all at one time in court.”

Chisolm continued his position that he will have no comment on the substance of the court’s ruling or the facts of the case until the federal courts have concluded their hearings and appeals.

Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the majority opinion for the Supreme Court.

“The substantial risk of putting an innocent man to death clearly provides an adequate justification for holding an evidentiary hearing,” Stevens wrote.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer agreed.

“Imagine a petitioner in Davis’ situation who possesses new evidence conclusively and definitively proving, beyond any scintilla of doubt, that he is an innocent man,” Stevens wrote.

Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas disagreed with the court’s ruling.

“Today, without explanation and without any meaningful guidance, this court sends the Southern District of Georgia on a fool’s errand,” Scalia wrote.

He called the court’s action “an extraordinary step – one not taken in nearly 50 years,” and noted that every judicial and executive body that has examined the case has been “unpersuaded” by Davis’ arguments.

He said the transfer to the district court “is a confusing exercise that can serve no purpose except to delay the state’s execution of its lawful criminal judgment.”

Newly sworn Justice Sonia Sotomayor didn’t participate in the matter.

Relief for some, not for others

Davis’ supporters welcomed the high court’s decision.

“I’m surprised it came this soon, and I’m definitely gratified,” said his sister, Martina Correia.

“I’m very excited for Troy.”

Correia said she wants “all of the witnesses to be heard,” including seven people who have recanted their trial testimony and nine others “who haven’t been heard.”

The slain officer’s son, Mark Allen MacPhail Jr., said the court’s action shocked him.

“The last thing I heard was the Supreme Court’s in recess,” MacPhail said.

“We’re doing all right because it’s only a hearing, not a new trial,” MacPhail said. “Once the federal judge hears it and actually looks at the facts, it’s a lot louder than the recantations.”

MacPhail’s mother, Anneliese MacPhail, said she too was “in shock.”

“They are pussyfooting around it,” she said. “This has gone on long enough. The courts have been through this two or three times, and nothing has changed.”

MacPhail, 27, was shot twice and killed Aug. 19, 1989, in the parking lot of the Greyhound Bus Terminal/Burger King Restaurant as he rushed to the aid of a homeless man being beaten over a beer.

A Chatham County Superior Court jury convicted Davis, then 20, two years later and recommended the death penalty.

Davis has remained on death row at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison at Jackson since.

He has avoided execution three times, the last on Sept. 23 within hours of his scheduled death.

His lawyers contend seven of nine prosecution witnesses have changed their testimony, a fact they say establishes cause to challenge the conviction. They contend Davis is the victim of mistaken identity.

The case has attracted worldwide attention, with calls to stop Davis’ execution from former President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Desmond Tutu.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People launched a series of rallies here in June in support of Davis.

But state and federal courts have rejected Davis’ request for a new trial, and state officials have rejected calls for clemency.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

What could happen

Chatham County District Attorney Larry Chisolm said the court’s ruling will result in one of three things happening with the case:

— Continuing to Davis’ execution.

— Being sent back to Chatham County Superior Court for retrial.

— Further appeals


Family and supporters of slain Savannah police officer Mark Allen MacPhail will mark the 20th anniversary of his death with a rally at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in front of the Chatham County Courthouse on Montgomery Street.

Afterward, they will go to Savannah-Chatham police headquarters at Oglethorpe Avenue and Habersham Street to place a wreath in memory of all fallen police officers.


Off-duty police officer Mark Allen MacPhail was shot twice with a .38-caliber pistol as he rushed to help a homeless man being beaten in the parking lot of the Greyhound Bus Terminal/Burger King restaurant on Oglethorpe Avenue early on Aug. 19, 1989.

MacPhail never unholstered his weapon. No murder weapon was recovered.

Prosecutors said Davis, then 20, shot MacPhail once in the heart while he was standing, then a second time in the face as he lay on the asphalt parking lot surface.

Witness testimony said the gunman smiled as he fired the second shot into the fallen officer.

Davis fled to Atlanta ahead of a massive manhunt, then surrendered to authorities on Aug. 23, 1989.

Lawyers for Davis said seven of the nine witnesses who testified against the defendant have recanted their testimony, which the defense contends was coerced by police.

They said Davis was the victim of mistaken identity and blame Sylvester “Red” Coles for the shooting. Coles was placed at the bus station where the fatal shooting occurred but was never charged.

Testimony had Coles running from the scene as MacPhail ran past him to the homeless victim.

Savannah Morning News


Day of Action for Troy Davis

On Tuesday, May 19 as part of the Global Day of Action for Troy Davis, SCADP members told the listeners of Columbia’s Seed Show about Troy Davis’ case and asked them to take action.Then we took Amnesty International’s petition to the bus station at Sumter and Laurel Streets, where the above video was taken.Petitions were also distributed and signed in Charleston, where we also began a hand print petition to be sent to Amnesty International by Friday, May 29.

The hand print petition ended up being sent in from Germany, where the photos below were taken. We will also attempt to call in to the Seed Show from Germany on Tuesday with a report of the reception Troy’s story received in Bremen and Harpstedt.

Padma, Lobsang, Samantha and Joshua sign the petition. Padma red


Hope for Troy Davis?

Sunday, May 31 Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis and Atlanta Democrat Hank Johnson met with Troy Davis on Friday. They are convinced of his innocence and are considering drafting legislation to repeal the 1995 law that prevents him from filing another appeal. (Presumably this is the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act signed by President Bill Clinton. Click here for more information on the law.) Also, NAACP President Benjamin Jealous has met with Troy, and the NAACP is making his case a priority and is training 300 activists to campaign for him.

Please read the following articles describing this new development:

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Black Legal Issues

Augusta Chronicle

Also, please use this website or Amnesty International’s report to inform yourself about the case. If you haven’t signed Amnesty International’s letter to Governor Perdue, please sign it now. Please also sign Amnesty’s new letter to Chatham county District Attorney Larry Chisolm. And please check this page often for news and links to actions in support of Troy Davis. Thank you!


Please Call TODAY

Troy Davis, family, friends

Please call the office of Larry Chisolm, the District Attorney for Chatham County, GA, today at 912-652-7308 and ask that he reopen Troy Davis’ case. Please keep trying, as they seem to be inundated with calls. If you have friends or family members in Georgia, ask them to call and identify themselves as Georgia residents. But all calls are helpful.

Also please check this website on Friday or Monday for news of a possible decision by the United States Supreme Court about Troy’s case. (Some of us will actually be at the Fast and Vigil outside the Supreme Court and should hear about it quickly!)

Troy Davis is on death row in Georgia for the 1989 murder of police officer Mark Allen MacPhail, a murder he almost certainly did not commit. (Click here for Amnesty International’s detailed report about the case.) There was no evidence linking him to the murder, and the gun that killed officer MacPhail was never found. Troy Davis was convicted solely on the testimony of nine witnesses. One of the witnesses, Sylvester Coles, was a suspect in the case. Most of the others were 15 or 16 years old when they testified against Troy. Seven of those nine witnesses have since withdrawn their testimony. handprint1

Update: Former Judges Push for Hearing on Troy Davis Innocence Claim

Update: Day of Action for Troy Davis, May 19

Action Needed: Media Barred from Speaking to Troy

Update: Hope? Please help now!

Write to D.A. Larry Chisolm: Reopen the Case!

Several of the witnesses said that they initially told the police they did not know who killed Officer MacPhail, but were frightened and finally “told them what they wanted to hear.” One young woman said that she had seen Sylvester Coles with a gun immediately after the murder, but had not told police, because she was afraid of Mr. Coles and did not want to die.


There was a deadline for informing the court of these crucial changes in testimony, and Troy Davis’ attorney at the time missed that deadline. Therefore no court ever discussed the fact that most of the statements that put Troy on death row have been taken back. On April 16, 2009 the 11th Court of Appeals denied his second habeas corpus appeal, leaving a stay of execution until May 16. An execution date may be set for any time after May 16, 2009.

Please help save Troy Davis

In Georgia, only the Board of Pardons and Paroles can grant clemency, and it has declined to do so. But Governor Perdue can commute Troy’s sentence to life, which would buy time to prove his innocence. Please write to Governor Perdue and ask him to commute Troy’s sentence:

Governor Sonny Perdue

203 State Capitol

Atlanta, Georgia 30334

You can also send Amnesty International’s letter online and find out more about Troy Davis at Click on “Take Action Online” in the drop-down menu under “What You Can Do.”

Please download and print our half-page flyer of the information above (rightclick on it and “save image as”), give it to your friends, and ask them to write to Governor Perdue and to contact us.

Check this website often for updates on Troy’s case and for news about the death penalty in South Carolina, or contact info(at) or 843-312-9741 to help.