Constitution Project Welcomes Supreme Court’s Restoration of Habeas Corpus “Security subsists too, in fidelity to freedom’s first principles.” Boumediene v. Bush / al Odah v. United States
On June 3, William S. Sessions, the former Director of the FBI and member of the Constitution Project’s National Committee on the Right to Counsel, authored an op-ed for the Journal-Constitution on the case of Curtis Osborne. In the commentary, Judge Sessions contends that “It is impossible to overstate the importance of competent, zealous representation of those accused of capital crimes; procedural barriers like Georgia’s often prevent judges from correcting the injustices emerging from lower court decisions.
The following day, Georgia prison officials executed Curtis Osborne by lethal injection. When a Georgia jury convicted Mr. Osborne of two counts of murder in 1991 and sentenced him to death, it was in the shadow of claims that Johnny Mostiler, his court-appointed defense attorney, told another client that Osborne was “a little n****r” who “deserves to die.” When the justices of the Georgia Supreme Court confirmed the death sentence, it was in the face of evidence that Mostiler was handling more than 600 cases at the time, more than four times the limit established by the American Bar Association. Mr. Mostiler also refused to investigate claims of mental illness and other mitigating factors, and there is persistent doubt that he ever told his client of a proffered plea agreement that would have limited the sentence to life in prison. Norman Fletcher, the former Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court who voted to confirm the death sentence while in that post, pleaded with the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to consider Mr. Osborne’s ineffective representation and grant clemency. The Board rejected Osborne’s final appeal on Monday.