Why There Is No Justice in America

Time is running out for George W. Bush. There are barely 17 months remaining in his presidency. Soon, but not soon enough, he will exit public office and return to private life in Texas, where he will await history’s final judgment. He will not be viewed kindly. Nonetheless, he will have escaped any real consequences for his harmful behavior. He will have gotten away with war crimes and mass murder.

Meanwhile, time is running out for a different Texan, a man by the name of Kenneth Foster who has less than 17 days remaining in his life. He sits in a 6 x 10 foot cell on death row, where he awaits execution. And he never murdered a soul.

From AlterNet:

Innocent Man Sentenced to Death Under Cruel Texas Law

Kenneth Foster’s time is running out.

On Tuesday, August 7, in a six-to-three decision, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied his final writ of habeas corpus, giving the legal green light for his execution. Foster, who is scheduled to die by lethal injection on August 30, is now at the mercy of the merciless Board of Pardons and Paroles. The odds are bad. Five out of seven board members must recommend clemency before Governor Rick Perry will consider it — and in a state that has executed nearly 400 people in thirty years, clemency has only been granted twice. But Foster’s supporters, who are spearheading a letter-writing campaign to the board and governor, are relying on one particularly salient detail to move their minds, if not their hearts: Foster didn’t kill anyone.

Foster was convicted for the 1996 murder of Michael LaHood Jr., who was shot following a string of robberies, by a man named Mauriceo Brown. Brown admitted to the shooting and was executed by lethal injection last year. Now Foster faces the same fate. So, if Brown was the shooter, what did the 19-year-old Foster do to get a death sentence? He sat in his car, 80 feet away, unaware that a murder was taking place.

Foster was convicted under Texas’s “law of parties,” a twist on a felony murder statute that enables a jury to convict a defendant who was not the primary actor in a crime. This can mean sentencing someone to death even if he or she had no proven role in a murder. Texas’s law states that “if, in the attempt to carry out a conspiracy to commit one felony, another felony is committed by one of the conspirators, all conspirators are guilty of the felony actually committed, though having no intent to commit it.” Defendants, the Texas courts say, can be held responsible for “failing to anticipate” that the “conspiracy” — in Foster’s case, the robberies, for which he was the getaway driver — would lead to a murder. Foster’s sentence, death row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal recently commented, “criminalizes presence, not actions.” [full text]

4 thoughts on “Why There Is No Justice in America

  1. Gertrude Stein said a rose is a rose is a rose: the point is of course that a rose is a rose. I suggest that in much the same way, an accomplis is an accomplis is an accomplis and, if someone takes part in a crime where there is knowledge that guns will be used, that person is just as guilty as the trigger man, whether or not the wheelman was t”the primary actor” or not. The criminal act with guns was entered into knowingly, whether or not the accomplis pulled the trigger. I suspect this is a matter of well established law in most if not all states. The argument that “I was jsut the wheelman,” ro, “I didn’t shoot anyone, my partner did,” seems less than adequate.

  2. Following Mr Wolberg’s interpretation of guilt by association, the entire Bush Administration could be held accountable for atrocities committed against the populace of Iraq. One only must try to remember that the original reason for our invasion of this sovereign country was intentionally invented from false “intelligence”.

    I challenge you gentle readers – you too, Donald – to dispute this fact:

    No person alive on this planet today can calculate how many people have been killed (no less, maimed) as a result of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The numbers we read in the press are only guesses. The cost per/kill numbers are not easily available. And don’t include the 2 million-plus Iraquis who have fled the country hoping to insure their own survival.

    Lest I continue to digress… Donald – my point is that your law should be applied equally to unelected beurocrats as any common criminal

    “Break the Law”
    “Pay the penalty”.

  3. Good points, but different issues: criminal law and international law, and I favor the former and have not much confidence in the latter. Bush-bashing is fine, but has not much to do with a kid who takes part in a gun action likely knowing the gun will go off as it did. It may be criminal that we elected a less than gifted President, but remember his had a higher GPA than John Kerry at the same school. Oh what a difference in presentation a phony elitist like Kerry can make (unless you really try to listen to him) as compared to an adopted Texan’s drawl and use of the word nuclear. I much prefer the Texan to the slithery Bostonian. But stupidity is not a crime, else most of us would be prosecuted (just ask my kids).

    The independence of Iraq is kind of in doubt. After the slaughter of the Kurds (ignored by Daddy Bush and the world) and the slaughter of the Marsh Arabs (ignored by Daddy Bush and the world) and all the other atrocities of the madmen and their friends who ran Iraq, the imposition of no-fly zones, and oil restrictions, hardly made for an independent country. Now that newly released documents show a real interest by Iraq and Iran interest in Niger’s yellowcake, the images get even muddier. One forgets that Abu Nidal as I recall, the architect of modern terror was virtually Sadam’s house guest until he angered someone. At that point Iraq reported that Abu Nidal had committed suicide by shooting himself in the hear and head 9 times.

    I am not much of a proponent for this waste of effort in Iraq. The pain to the families of our dead and wounded (more than 35,000 total now!!!) cannot be calulated. The daily fear of that possible telephone call is a perpetual fear for families of our kids over there, ewvery hour, every day. There is little honor left in this struggle for us. The horrid cost in dollars far better spent on medical care, border security, education, etc., cannot be calculated.

    My druthers would be to arrange a three-state solution in Iraq, likely bash the Iranians to keep them out of the mix (economically and if needed whatever other way) and get out fast. The Kurds will do well; the Marsh Arabs will do well; the southern Shiites will do well and possibly align with Kuwait not Iran. But whatever is done, it is time to end it.

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