Tuesday, May 08, 2007


The Highest Court in the Land

Since the 6th Circuit en banc has refused to consider the crucial evidence proving that Philip Workman is not guilty of the murder of Lt. Ronald Oliver, Workman's attorneys have now applied for a stay of execution to the United States Supreme Court. Workman's appeal focuses on a Rule 60 (b) motion (a complicated rule regarding whetehr an inmate can make a second habeas corpus plea to federal courts, in this case because new evidence, like Harold Davis' recantation came to light).

You can read the motion here.

With Workman now just under 9 hours away from execution, let's take just a minute to consider the evidence that the 6th Circuit apparently didn't think was worthy of review.

Philip Workman was convicted of the 1981 murder of Lt. Ronald Oliver based on testimony that shots were fired, only he and Lt. Oliver were shooting, and the testimony of Harold Davis who claimed that he saw Workman shoot Oliver. Since that time, eyewitnesses have testified that the other officers were firing their guns, and there has been evidence that police witnesses perjured themselves since two witnesses each claimed that they separately found the same bullet (that supposedly killed Lt. Oliver. But more strikingly:

  • Harold Davis has admitted that he perjured himself in his initial testimony, and has passed a lie detector test verifying this claim.

  • The only medical testimony on the record, that of Dr. Cecil Wecht, states that "to a degree of medical certainty" the bullet that killed Lt. Oliver could not have come from Workman's gun.

  • Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Drowota has stated that if Workman did not shoot Lt. Oliver, he is not guilty of a capital crime

  • Five jurors from Workman's trial have signed affidavits stating that, had they known that Davis was lying and that the deadly bullet did not come from Workman's gun, they would never have sentenced him to death (it takes only one hold out on a jury to prevent a death sentence).

  • The original prosecutor and Lt. Oliver's daughter have called on the Governor to grant clemency to Philip Workman.

Now, I admit, I've never been to law school, but am I crazy or is this evidence not, at the very least, worth a hearing!?

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