Troy Davis… what are you people waiting for?



Troy Davis is a man whose plight I have been fighting for nearly twenty years.  Wait.  That’s not right.

Troy Davis is a man whose sentence I have been rallying against for the past couple of years.  Hang on.  That’s not right, either.

Troy Davis is a man I recently heard about.  I have put a lot of personal time and effort into sparing this man’s life.  As I write this, the Supreme Court denied his stay and it looks like he is about to be executed.  Whoa…  That isn’t exactly correct.

Troy Davis is a guy I just heard about.  His story scares me.  I signed a facebook petition and have been watching CNN as the execution approaches….  This sounds more correct.  But, not for me.

Despite people bemoaning the “broken system” the reality is that it’s not the system that has hacked everybody off, it’s the punishment.

In truth I avoid nearly all legal news.  I live this stuff.  Day in, and day out.  I don’t need the news.  That’s not to say that I am too burned out or worn to think about the law after hours.  Quite the contrary- anybody who knows me has probably heard more than their share of my legal opinions when I’m “off the clock.”  I don’t follow the legal news because it tends to highlight the stories of national and international attention.  Stories about people I don’t represent.  I have only so much mental energy to burn, and I focus on people I can directly impact… people who have come to me and asked for help.  They get my undivided attention.

So, I heard about Troy Davis yesterday.  I know very little about the case.  I know that everybody is outraged.  I know that Georgia has a long history of “issues” with the death penalty.  Don’t think so? Here, here, and here just to get you started.

It sounds like a fairly bad set of circumstances coupled with a very flawed system.  If it weren’t for a man dying, though, there would be little (if any) media outcry.  Despite people bemoaning the “broken system” the reality is that it’s not the system that has hacked everybody off, it’s the punishment.  The general public only cares about the system being flawed because a man is dying.

Think I’m wrong on that?  Where is the public outcry when somebody gets screwed on a retail theft?  Where are the chanting, protesting people bemoaning an unjust verdict on Unlawful Use of a Weapon?  Where are the Facebook petitions when an innocent man is found guilty of DUI?  Nowhere.  I would know, I’ve walked out of the courthouse after seeing this stuff.  Lock a man up for a “mere” 30 years, and suddenly it’s not news.

I’m not saying that people have to concern themselves with every minor case.  What I am saying is that if all of the people so wrapped up in Troy Davis’ case had worked this hard over the last 19 years, he’d likely be alive now.  What I am saying is that if people really feel that strongly, I wish they would harness that energy before the government strapped this prisoner to the gurney.

You angry about Troy Davis?  Volunteer some time.  It’s not hard to find ways that may actually make a better impact than signing an electronic petition or holding a cardboard sign.  The internet is full of charitable places looking for help (on both sides of criminal law).  Calling one is not as “cool” as twittering how bad you feel for Troy, but may actually make a difference.

I don’t know a lot about Troy Davis or his case.  I do know that a lot of people waited until the last minute to make a lot of noise.  I also know that right now there is a guy caged like an animal in your local county jail. He dosen’t deserve to be there.  What are you doing about it?

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