Constitution Project Applauds Supreme Court Order That Troy Davis Case Be Reheard

Rehearing needed to consider new evidence in 1989 killing

CONTACT: Matthew Allee,  (202) 580-6922 or

WASHINGTON – The United States Supreme Court decided today to order a federal judge in Georgia to hear new evidence in the Troy Davis case, evidence Davis says supports his claim of innocence. Davis, who has been on death row in Georgia since 1989, was found guilty of killing an off-duty police officer based on the testimony of nine eyewitnesses, with no physical evidence directly linking him to the crime. But since his conviction, seven of those nine witnesses have recanted their original statements, another man has boasted of having committed the crime, and new witnesses have come forward to identify that man as the real perpetrator. Some of the original witnesses claim that the police pressured them into identifying Davis as the perpetrator.

There have been multiple hearings to determine whether a court can hear the new evidence, and every court, until today, decided that procedural obstacles barred their consideration. Today’s announcement by the Supreme Court will allow that evidence to finally be heard in court. Mr. Davis’s case will now be heard by the District Court for the Southern District of Georgia.

The following can be attributed to Virginia Sloan, president of the Constitution Project:

“Since Troy Davis was sentenced to death nearly twenty years ago, much of the evidence used to convict him has come under question. New evidence could prove his innocence, yet no court has ever heard that evidence. Fortunately, the Supreme Court has decided that – finally – a court must do so.

“Georgia seeks to execute Troy Davis without allowing the courts to hear this evidence, thus allowing the doubts to continue. The Court’s decision means that we may finally know whether Georgia sought to execute an innocent man and allowed the real perpetrator to escape.”

The Constitution Project helped to organize an amicus brief in support of Mr. Davis’s appeal, signed by 27 former judges and prosecutors and submitted to the Supreme Court on May 20. Signers of the brief include: Larry Thompson, Deputy Attorney General in the George W. Bush administration; former Congressman Bob Barr (R-GA); former federal judge and FBI Director William S. Sessions; and Norman Fletcher, the former Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court.

Click here to view the brief.

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