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Texas High Court Halts Hearing On Death Penalty

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, acting on its own motion, has ordered a halt in the hearings District Judge Kevin Fine is conducting into the constitutionality of the death penalty as it is applied here.

District Attorney Pat Lykos' office made the announcement, having been informed of the move late Tuesday. Her prosecutors had been standing more or less mute during the proceedings, which began Monday.

Their take:

The Harris County District Attorney's Office was notified late Tuesday that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, on its own motion, has granted a stay in the death penalty hearing regarding The State of Texas versus John Edward Green being held in the 177th District Court. The hearing on the constitutionality of the death penalty will be effectively stopped pending legal arguments to be made by the parties. All parties will have 15 days to respond to this order by drafting legal briefs with their stated positions.

So, as expected, nothing much will come of the high-profile hearings.

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Green's attorneys had this to say:

We are disappointed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals' decision today to temporarily stay the hearing in the John Green case, which is examining the risk of his being wrongfully convicted in his upcoming capital trial. In two days of testimony, the risk to Mr. Green of wrongful conviction based on flawed evidence was becoming readily apparent.

The claim by Mr. Green is based on a constitutional theory never before examined by the Texas courts and derives from the mounting evidence demonstrating that the kind of evidence against Mr. Green -- eyewitness identification, testimony by paid informants, and fingerprint comparison -- is often inaccurate and leads to conviction of the innocent. We have confidence that when the Court of Criminal Appeals fully appreciates the evidence and the constitutional claim, it will allow the hearing to resume.

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