Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Workman Back on Death Watch Despite Evidence of Innocence

For the fourth time, Philip Workman finds himself on death watch this morning, despite evidence that he did not shoot Memphis Police Lieutenant Ronald Oliver. Yesterday afternoon, a three judge panel on the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a ten day restraining order put in place by U.S. District Court judge Todd Campbell to allow for a hearing on Tennessee's "new" lethal injection procedures. Workman had maintained that the three drug protocol (which utilizes a chemical banned for use in euthanizing animals) could constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Given the horrendous and torturous botched executions seen in other states using nearly identical protocols, Workman's claim would seem to have merit, but the panel disagreed and overturned the restraining order, clearing the way for Workman to be executed in just over 28 hours. The majority opinion claimed that Workman might simply be trying to delay his execution and should have brought these concerns up sooner. All this despite the fact that the state only released the new protocol a week ago! Talk about trying to have it both ways!

In a dissenting opinion, Judge Guy Cole Jr. makes a number of terrific points, the most shocking of which, to me, is that a temporary restraining order (like the one that was in place here) is by law not appealable. It is designed merely to maintain the status quo for a very short time (no more than 10 days) to allow a court to examine an issue and decide if an injunction (which would be appealable) is needed. Apparently, none of this made any difference to the two judges in the majority. Moreover, the Judge Cole points out that there can be no "irreparable harm" caused to the state by temporarily delaying the execution of Phillip Workman, and such harm certainly could not overcome Workman's eight amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Other courts across the country have recognized that the three drug cocktail (administered by unqualified prison personnel) can result in extreme pain and suffering and Judge Cole calls on the 6th Circuit to do the same.

This morning, Philip Workman will be appealing his Rule 60(b) motion (more on this later) as well as the ruling of the panel on lethal injection, to an en banc hearing of the entire 6th Circuit, rather than just a three judge panel. TCASK will continue to keep abreast of these developments and whatever the outcome, the latest news will be immediately posted here throughout the day. If the situation does not change, if our state does not see the light, if Philip Workman is still scheduled for execution this evening, we will gather at 7:30 at Holy Name Catholic Church (521 Woodland) for a prayer service for Philip Workman and all victims of violence and then proceed to Riverbend Correctional Facility to hold a candlelight vigil beginning at 9:00 pm.

So take time today for two things:

1) Call (615.741.2001) or Email Governor Bredesen and tell him: Philip Workman did not fire the shot that killed Lt. Oliver. He should not be executed for armed robbery!

2) Join us to bear witness against an immoral and unjust execution tonight!
Comments :
Everything else in the news seems trivial at such a time as this. Why are the news folks not hopping all over this trampling of the legal statutes? Where's Phil Williams when a massive conspiricy threatens to take a human life? Such apparent inconsistencies are not even given a second of attention. When it comes down to a Republican vs a Democrat in deciding a man's life, I'd have hoped that people would resort to just being a human being. An auditorium in Belle Meade is packed with folks worried about the Belle Meade Mall - on the other side of town a smattering of sould gather to hear about what our state will do at the Belcourt Theatre. Philip Workman's brother gets up before the 20 or 30 people and says he kinda expected more people to turn out but thank those there.
It is hard to believe how callous we can be with a man's life. Even more disturbing to think that the record makes it very clear that we, as Tennesseans, are less than 27 hours from executing Philip Workman for a murder that he did not commit! But keep the faith, keep the calls to the Governor, and pray that the 6th Circuit can find the courage to stand up for what is right and just as they review Workman's appeals!
You know, travelingjesuit, it's amazing how you can state that Tennessee is executing Workman for a murder he did not commit. You're willing to impugn law-abiding people for the sake of a murderer. Nice.
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