Could Justice Delayed Mean Justice?
Across the unforgiving desert of injustice, every now and then small potential oases of optimism appear.
For instance, even though America has killed 1,089 of its prisoners since 1976, and has been one of the top six executioners worldwide the past two years, Troy Davis, sentenced to die for the murder of a police officer, an execution given the go-ahead by our Supreme Court despite substantial doubt as to his guilt, has been given some hope.
After his lawyer and network of supporters worked tirelessly on his behalf, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles granted Mr. Davis a 90-day stay of execution in early July, and now the Georgia Supreme Court, by a vote of 4 to 3, has decided to accept Davis's discretionary appeal and agreed to hear oral arguments in November to consider whether eyewitness recantations and other newly-discovered evidence are sufficient grounds for a new trial.
Is this sprinkle of sanity an augury of impending justice, or a mere mirage? Only time will tell.
Heading southwest across the dunes of discrimination from Atlanta to the justice-starved town of Jena, Louisiana, where white students hung nooses after black students sat under the "white" tree, setting off a string of racially charged events, only one of which was treated seriously --- the prosecution of six black students for a fight with a white student --- where 16-year-old Mychal Bell, one of the Jena 6, prosecuted by a white District Attorney, represented by an indifferent white defense attorney, before a white judge, was convicted by an all-white jury of aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon (a tennis shoe). Bell's sentencing, which could put him in jail for up to 22 years, scheduled for last week, has been delayed until September 20, and in the meantime the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the U.S. Attorney's Office recently met in Jena to review possible civil rights violations surrounding the prosecution of the Jena 6.
Have we finally tapped the fountain of fairness? Only time will tell.