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American Justice: What is So Wrong with Justice in America That We Execute Prisoners Come Hell-or-High-Water?

Updated on March 10, 2019
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ME has spent most of his retirement from service to the United States studying, thinking, and writing about the country he served.



  • THE SUPREME COURT and Georgia authorities murdered Troy Davis on September 22, 2011. Oklahoma authorities may be doing the same thing to Richard Glossip on September 16, 2015. Glossip was convicted of "ordering" the killing of Barry Van Treese in 1977. The problem is, like with Troy, there are serious questions regarding the testimony used to convict Glossip. See this story -

Troy Davis Saga

TROY DAVIS WAS CONVICTED, 1991, OF MURDERING Savannah, GA police officer Mark MacPhail in 1989. There was no physical evidence, as is often found in these kinds of confrontations between those who simply want to execute Americans and those who want true justice for ALL Americans; instead there was only witness testimony. In this case, physical evidence or not, it still seemed like a slam-dunk; nine witnesses testified to the guilt of Troy Davis; the jury bought it and convicted. We had what all should agree was a fair trial; even I would have thought so; which is surprising given my skepticism of witness only-based convictions because of the unreliability of witness testimony. Nine believable witnesses, however, seems like enough to overcome even my high threshold.

Now, it seems, they are down to two witnesses; the seven others have recanted their testimony, yet the State of Georgia still thinks Troy Davis had a fair trial, that his guilt is certain, and that he should be put to death in four days, September 21, 2011.

For me, having only two witnesses who stand by their testimony and no physical evidence just doesn't cut it for a death penalty, don't you think, fair trial or not; it just does not make common sense. My defense of this believe is easy, it is now established fact that eye-witness testimony is very unreliable. Time and time again, in supposedly "fair" trials, men and women across this country are convicted and then sentenced to death based only on eyewitness testimony, or sometimes from multiple eye-witnesses and sometimes even with a little physical evidence to boot. Yet, because of efforts like the Innocence Project, several of these convictions have been overturned by irrefutable DNA evidence that later became available; DNA evidence the States and prosecutors have fought hard to suppress in order to get their kill!

In this case, the former Chatham County District Attorney Spencer Lawton said, ""On what grounds are the recantations more believable than the testimony in court? None," !!!??? Give me a break!

Seven witnesses recanted, for God's sake, seven! and he has the temerity to say such a ridiculous thing? Never mind that the witnesses "grounds" were that the police coerced them into their testimony (see the link to the Wikipedia article I added); seven people said this, not just one or two. In reading through the Wikipedia article this comes out - everyone of the witnesses who said they saw Troy Davis kill officer MacPhail or who said Troy Davis confessed to them that he committed the crime, recanted their testimony. This includes one witness who recanted during the original trial as well as the person whom Davis allegedly assaulted at the same time he was shooting officer MacPhail, Larry Young! There was one exception though, Redd Coles; for good reason though, for at a later hearing required by the U.S. Supreme Court, other witnesses came forward and named him as the killer. However, because Mr. Coles was not present, the presiding federal district judge discounted their testimony as hearsay. He also found only one of the recantations "wholly" credible and two "partly" credible and that the physical evidence presented to "casts some additional, minimal doubt on his conviction, it is largely smoke and mirrors."

My God man, what else do you need to order a new trial??? He didn't, Judge William Moore found the trial fair and that Troy Davis failed to demonstrate his innocence. The judge ignored any issues regarding Redd Coles, the alternative murderer, because Davis' attorneys were not successful in subpoenaing him. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the final appeal without comment.

So, in summary, here is what we have:

  • No physical evidence
  • six witnesses who testified they saw Troy Davis attack, Larry Young and kill Office MacPhail, one of them being Larry Young and another being Redd Cole who other witnesses say actually did the killing
  • two witnesses who testified that Troy Davis confessed to the murder
  • one witness who testified that Troy Davis "didn't know him well enough to shoot him" regarding to an additional attempted murder count Troy Davis was facing, but had no information as to the MacPhail killing
  • one of the six witnesses recanted their witness statement in court testimony during the trial
  • four of the remaining six witnesses and the two who heard the confession all later recanted their testimony complaining of police strong-arm tactics.
  • the only eye-witnesses to the killing who didn't recant their testimony was Redd Coles, whom the Davis defense team was unable to subpoena for some reason; the same Redd Coles whom the Davis defense team found people willing to testify that Coles confessed to them that he did.

Troy Davis is scheduled to die on September 21, 2011. This is American Justice at its finest.


SEPTEMBER 22, 2011 - After a final last minute appeals to the Georgia and then the U.S. Supreme Court, Troy Davis was put to death by the State of George in Atlanta based on no physical evidence, the unrecanted testimony of other party, and suspect, to the crime and the testimony or pre-trial depositions of six other witnesses who later said the police forced their testimony, one of which said so during the trial.

So goes justice in America.

(BTW - I am now firmly in the no death penalty camp, we are a society that is too immature to handle the responsibility.)

The Death of Walter Scott

ONE OF THE TAKE-AWAYS FROM THE ABOVE STORY is that the entire American legal system, from the beat cop to the Supreme Court Justices, are on trial. They're on trial because Americans, especially minority Americans, are losing (and many have lost) there trust in the system. Now, we have video tape of the justice system at work.

On April 4, 2015, Officer Michael T. Slager shot Walter Scott in the back several times after a traffic stop for a malfunctioning brake light; Scott is black and Slager is white. Slager's story is that after the stop, Scott took off (he had warrants out for his arrest for back child support payments) and Officer Slager pursued. At some point, Slager caught up with him and a struggle ensued. Slager tazed Scott and they fought over the taser; Brown broke away and began to run again, away from officer Slager. When Scott was what appears to be about 50/ away, Slager opened fire, firing eight times. A few of the bullets hit Scott and he crumpled to the ground and ultimately died. Slager's report claims Scott took his taser and he was in fear of his safety; fellow officers and the police department backed-up his story including reporting that Scott had bullet wounds to his front and side.. (The Daily Mail has a good account of the discrepancies in their stories.)

Unfortunately for Slager, but great news for justice, a by-stander filmed the whole thing and it aired several days later. What it shows are four things of interest, 1) Scott running away from Stager, 2) Scott posing no threat to officer Stager, 3) Stager shooting Scott in the back several times, and 4) after another officer arrived at the scene, Stager going back to where the struggle happened, bending over to pick up a black object, returning to Scott's dead body and dropping this object on the ground next to the body. After the release of this video, Stager was fired and charged with murder.

HERE IS THE PROBLEM, besides Walter Scott being murdered, and the reason why trust in the system has gone to hell-in-a-handbasket, Officer Stager almost got away with murder with the help of fellow officers and his superiors! It is a common story we have been getting anecdotal evidence about for over a century, from the scandals from New York City, to the pay-offs to Chicago, to mob connections in Los Angeles, and suppression of civil rights throughout the South (or in combination of those). The courts are full of two things, 1) guilty cops getting convicted and 2) many more guilty cops getting a pass from the courts. And that is if it ever gets to trial; I don't think most do and what happened to Walter Scott, Michael Brown, and the Ferguson police department.are the reason why, for they are just a tip of the iceberg.

© 2011 Scott Belford


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