Philip Workman.

Discussion in 'The Whiners' started by Orsino2, May 10, 2007.

  1. Orsino2

    Orsino2 Hip Forums Supporter HipForums Supporter

    A 90-day ban on the death penalty in Tennessee expires one week before Philip Ray Workman is set to die by lethal injection, the first scheduled execution since the governor established a commission to overhaul the state’s capital punishment protocols. And although critics, including the American Bar Association, are skeptical any substantial changes can be made in a mere 90 days, the governor appears steadfast in moving ahead as scheduled.

    Gov. Phil Bredesen stands by his May 2 deadline ending the ban, as well as Workman’s scheduled execution a week later: “The governor has received the report issued by the ABA, and while he has great respect for the organization, he has no plans to extend the moratorium,” Lydia Lenker, the governor’s spokeswoman, writes in an e-mail to the Scene.

    After spending three years examining Tennessee’s death penalty, a team of legal experts organized by the ABA asked Bredesen Monday to extend the moratorium to allow for a more thorough review. The team, made up of prominent defense lawyers, prosecutors, a law professor and even a federal judge, concludes the state’s capital punishment system is riddled with flaws, including insufficient procedures for reviewing innocence claims, racial disparities, inadequate standards for defense counsel and excessive caseloads.

    In pushing the governor to continue the moratorium, the group made clear the ABA has no stance on the death penalty and is interested solely in improving the state’s capital justice system. A state House subcommittee followed suit on Tuesday by unanimously proposing bipartisan legislation that would create a new commission to further study the death penalty system in Tennessee. Despite these concerns, the governor still plans instead to defer to a commission that spent three months—as opposed to three years—reviewing the state’s procedures for administering lethal injections and electrocutions.


    Nashville defense lawyer Michael Passino says he’s troubled by the state’s resolve to meet a seemingly arbitrary deadline, and to execute Workman so soon after the moratorium ends. “It looks like it could be more of a rush to get things done without reference to how thoughtful the study was and how ably and comprehensive the remedies, if any, have been implemented,” adds Passino, who has represented defendants facing the death penalty for 17 years.

    With what appears to be a firm deadline in place, Workman’s lawyers can do little to prepare for a potential court appeal, given that the commission’s work thus far has been withheld from the public.

    “We are going to be in a position where we’re going to have to very, very quickly review these new protocols and make a determination whether there are any potential legal challenges,” says Kelley Henry, an assistant federal public defender representing Workman. Despite numerous attempts to obtain information about the process, Henry has been stonewalled repeatedly and has no idea what changes the commission might be considering.

    With the exception of one poorly publicized and sparsely attended hearing, the commission’s work has been shrouded in secrecy. Consequently, this newspaper recently filed a petition seeking access to public records associated with the development of new execution protocols in Tennessee. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Wednesday before Davidson County Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman.

    When Bredesen imposed the death penalty moratorium in February, the executions of four other prisoners scheduled to die during that 90-day period were postponed. Going ahead with Workman’s execution, which just happens to fall one week after the ban expires, is both arbitrary and unfair, according to Henry, who suggests the dates of the moratorium might even have been chosen with her client in mind.

    “They obviously were aware of his execution date at the time this moratorium was set,” Henry says. “The governor elected to end his moratorium a week before Workman’s execution date. It really feels like he was singled out.”

    But Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper argues in court papers filed last month that there’s nothing unjust about refusing to delay the execution of Workman, whom he points out has had six execution dates since 2000. Cooper goes on to say: “The expectation … is that a revised death penalty protocol that is both constitutional and appropriate will have been established by May 2, 2007. In other words, by May 9, 2007, when Workman’s death sentence is scheduled to be executed, it is expected that his sentence will be carried out pursuant to a constitutional and appropriate protocol.”

    The Tennessee Supreme Court has since sided with the state on the matter and, without further explanation, denied Workman’s request to delay his execution.

    “He has been on deathwatch three times, and now he is staring down his fourth trip down there,” says Henry, suggesting such treatment is cruel and unusual punishment.

    If plans to execute Workman proceed as scheduled, he will for the fourth time wind up on “deathwatch,” the term given to the 72-hour period leading up to an inmate’s execution. While on deathwatch the prisoner is closely monitored by a team of guards standing outside an 8-by-10 concrete cell adjacent to the death chamber. A tiny window overlooking the prison’s exercise yard generally provides a, perhaps final glimpse, of the outside world. Only a few items, such as legal documents and a Bible, are made available to the inmate.

    On one occasion, Workman was receiving last communion when his execution was called off just 43 minutes before he was set to die by lethal injection. This time, Henry anticipates it might once again go down to the wire: “We probably won’t know if we have a stay until the last minute.”

    Given the governor’s refusal to extend the moratorium or postpone Workman’s lethal injection, Henry is seeking a stay of execution in federal court. Workman’s legal team currently is awaiting the outcome of several appeals.

    Workman was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death for his role in the 1981 robbery of a Wendy’s restaurant during which Memphis Police Officer Ronald Oliver was shot and killed. Oliver and two other officers responded to a silent alarm tripped by an employee and found Workman exiting the restaurant with a bag of cash. A shootout ensued and Oliver was fatally wounded.

    Although Workman—a junkie at the time who frequently stole for drug money—never denied the robbery, he maintains he did not shoot the officer. Years after his conviction and death sentence, an alleged witness who claimed to have seen Workman fire the fatal shot recanted his testimony and admitted he lied. Additional evidence has surfaced suggesting a fellow officer accidentally shot Oliver. (Astonishingly, Workman’s defense failed to pursue any ballistics testing prior to trial.) Then there’s the exculpatory evidence that Workman’s lawyers claim the prosecution intentionally withheld from the defense at trial.At the time of Workman’s conviction, state law would not have permitted a death sentence if he did not fire the fatal bullet.
    Later yesterday...

    Hundreds of homeless people in Nashville, Tennessee, ate well Wednesday evening -- all in the name of a man who the state put to death just hours earlier.

    Philip Workman, 53, requested that his final meal be a vegetarian pizza donated to any homeless person located near Riverbend Maximum Security Institution, as he wished to fast instead.

    He was executed there at 2 a.m. ET Wednesday.

    But prison officials refused to honor his request, saying that they do not donate to charities.

    That apparently upset a few people willing to pay for and deliver a lot of pies themselves.

    Homeless shelters across Nashville were inundated with donated pizzas all Wednesday.

    "I was like, 'Wow, Jesus!' " said Marvin Champion, an employee of Nashville's Rescue Mission, which provides overnight shelter, food and assistance to more than 800 homeless people a night.

    "I used to be homeless, so I know how rough it gets. I seen some bad times -- not having enough food, the cupboards are bare. But we got pizza to feed enough people for awhile," Champion said.

    "This really shows the people here that someone out there thought of them."

    $1,200 worth of pies

    Donna Spangler heard about Workman's request and immediately called her friends. They all pitched in for the $1,200 bill to buy 150 pizzas, which they sent to the Rescue Mission.

    "Philip Workman was trying to do a good deed and no one would help him," said the 55-year-old who recruited a co-worker to help her make the massive delivery Wednesday evening.

    "I knew my husband would have a heart attack -- I put some of it on the credit card. But I thought we'll find a way to pay for them later," she said. "I just felt like I had to do something positive."

    Spangler wasn't the only person to place an order in Workman's name.

    The president of the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals read a news story about the prison denying the inmate's last request and ordered 15 veggie pizzas sent to the Rescue Mission Wednesday morning.

    "Workman's act was selfless, and kindness to all living beings is a virtue," said PETA President Ingrid Newkirk.

    Not far away, 17 pizzas arrived at Nashville's Oasis Center, a shelter that helps about 260 teenagers in crisis. By 9 p.m. ET, more pizzas had arrived, said executive director Hal Cato.

    "We talked to the kids and they understand what this is tied to and they know that this man [Workman] wanted to do something to point out the problems of homelessness."

    When Workman robbed a Wendy's in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1981, he was a strung-out cocaine addict looking for a way to pay for his next high, he has said.

    He was homeless at the time. Workman was convicted of shooting and killing Memphis Police Lt. Ronald Oliver during the robbery.

    Many of the pizzas ordered in Workman's name were delivered anonymously, but the first 17 at Oasis Center came from a Minneapolis, Minnesota, radio station that devoted much of its morning show time talking about Workman's request.

    "They were upset about it," said Cato.

    He plans to call other homeless shelters in Nashville Thursday and share the pies. "They should be able to benefit from this, too," he said.

    Cliff Tredway, the director of public relations for the Rescue Mission, said it's more than pizzas that helped that shelter.

    "It's the story of a guy whose execution translated into a generous act," he said. "It's people donating to other people they don't know.

    "It's about a group of people who society often writes off getting a pizza party today."
  2. salmon4me

    salmon4me Senior Member

    Interesting stuff. Sounds like the dude should have done 20 years instead of being put to death.
  3. Orsino2

    Orsino2 Hip Forums Supporter HipForums Supporter

    Didn't see any replies to this, before, but... yeah, at ,east I think so.

    The only reason I like law and such is because of instances like this. I live to hear things like that. Every time I read this, it makes me just a little more satisfied with myself.
  4. wave owls not flags

    wave owls not flags is not interested

    He shouldn't have put himself in the position that made him look like he shot the cop. He was high and committing armed robbery.
  5. salmon4me

    salmon4me Senior Member

    And for that crime he should have been sentenced to 30-40 years. Armed robbery and attempted murder should get you 30-40, not the death sentence. With good behaviour he's out in 20 years.
  6. Orsino2

    Orsino2 Hip Forums Supporter HipForums Supporter

    I'd still forgive him, existentially.

    Sometimes life is pretty ridiculous. I think the pizza situation shows for it, as do a lot of other little things.

    Sometimes you've gotta do what you've gotta do. I understand that, though it's no excuse for being violent towards others.

    But to me, perjury is pretty low and people who look away, when it comes to that, should really be ashamed of theirselves. Remember, if it wasn't for the obscurities in cases like this, there would not be cause for new laws and you'd probably be giving up more of your civil liberties.

    I guess that's why our vice-president's chief of staff is going to prison and a black man from New Orleans finally was recognized, to quote Jon Stewart.
  7. wave owls not flags

    wave owls not flags is not interested

    Its not like being high and committing armed robbery is "an honest mistake." Even stoned that would require some planning. Since it was found that he took the officer's life, the least he should've received for his actions was life in prison. It just so happened that he "found" faith while on death row.... not a big surprise. If given the opportunity he probably would have shot the death row officers just as quickly as he would do another line of coke.

    It was a very noble thing to do but IMO it shouldn't forgive his earlier actions.
  8. Orsino2

    Orsino2 Hip Forums Supporter HipForums Supporter

    Yeah, I get what you're saying...

    Personally, the reason I say that, is that it really doesn't matter at this point in time, he's passed on, and I just feel that he could have been doing worse... as far as the chain of reactions go. He went above and beyond his expectations...
  9. wave owls not flags

    wave owls not flags is not interested

    Well its like.... you could order all those pizzas for yourself and it won't matter because you'll be dead in an hour or you could order all those pizzas for others because they'll get to enjoy them :D I don't think I could enjoy food if I was about to be killed.
  10. Orsino2

    Orsino2 Hip Forums Supporter HipForums Supporter

    You really couldn't. $20 maximum, as far as state prison meal programs go for people's last meals.
  11. wave owls not flags

    wave owls not flags is not interested

    Do you think if someone requested a big bowl of human or animal blood their wish would be granted? :eek: :D
  12. salmon4me

    salmon4me Senior Member

    It was found that he did NOT take the officers life. The officer was the victom of friendly fire.
  13. Orsino2

    Orsino2 Hip Forums Supporter HipForums Supporter

    I think people should get the death penalty (or life at the least) for perjury or bribery. It makes a little more sense... they do it in other countries.

    Shit, the Chinese are sentencing their minister of food/agriculture to death for the whole toothpaste and pet food thing.

    I can understand that.

    But like I said, if you gave the guy life or death for that, then you would be committing an unconstitutional crime against yourself, so it comes right back around and kicks you in the ass sooner or later. It's sort of like how people choose to wave the bill of rights. Chain of reaction.

    That's really the problem I do see with conservatism... people want small gov't, but it's never there. Ron Paul is the only Republican I could ever vote for and not feel remorse. Kinky Friedman would be my next choice, but he's an independent and not running anyway. Ironically, both are Texans.

    I can't say any of that for the Democratic party, anymore. The only exception may be Obama. Kuch is a good guy, but he's too obscure... honestly, I'm sick of the fucking cliches, for the most part and Washington can go to Hell, for all I care, at this point.
  14. wave owls not flags

    wave owls not flags is not interested

    A position the officers would never have had to be in had the crack-smoking loser made a different, better decision than to commit armed robbery.
  15. wave owls not flags

    wave owls not flags is not interested

    Nowhere in the constitution is capital punishment mentioned... I think if you take the life of a human being purposely the governing body should be able to decide whether or not to take your life. Forgiveness is obviously a good thing... but it should be left to the victim's families as well as the judge and the law.
  16. Orsino2

    Orsino2 Hip Forums Supporter HipForums Supporter

    Well, that's sort of.. not the point. (I never said capital punishment was unconstitutional) All of that is a given, and to beat the whipping post over and over, frankly, I feel is just a bit unnecessary and ridiculous.--You're breaking my balls, here.

    Cut to the chase.

    I know what you're getting at, but I'm trying to delve a little deeper than that... He was found not-guilty after he was executed, while the prosecution committed perjury, and that was overlooked... so technically, wouldn't that mean that he didn't owe anyone shit and the testifyee in the prosecution would still have to serve, oh... say, about two years, wether the defendant is deceased now or not (atop that, it put a man to death.. if you see an eye for an eye?), so long as he or she was under oath, at the time? I'm not stating why Workman should or shouldn't have been executed, nor am I even saying he didn't deserve it (perceptively, we probably all deserve it from time to time)--that doesn't matter to me... I'm trying to say, isn't there something wrong with that scene?

    I can't see how anyone could morally or legally overlook things like that. If people focus on "sky is blue", given statements, then would the obscurities dissapear along with your, as well as the prosecution's, rights? It's just theory. Logically, it would lead you on a path to retaining nothing more than Miranda rights, balancing scales, and the like.

    I do remember a time when you were all freaked over cocaine or something, and then chose to go down a different path--isn't that true? Counter-intuition tells me that, just because "he shot" a cop, really doesn't mean the cop wasn't some "crack-smoking loser", at some point in his life, either, which is precisely, just the angle I live to wag my finger at. If we're not all winners, in democratic justice systems, then I don't know what the Hell we're doing wrong anymore, because we surely have the materials and people to do the fucking job right the first fucking time. Wrong places and wrong times for right people in, often unfortunate, times. All it boils down to is, technically, we're all sinners, wether we believe anything or nothing at all... of course, not that religion would legally pertain.

    Though, in my shine of light, not saying I do for sure, but that would merely imply that you don't know both sides of the story and really are unwilling to proceed... which, I reckon I'd personally, feel I'd view questionably, myself... butttt, I'm not a lawyer and don't really ever wish to be one, nor will I ever affiliate myself with any "political party" or whatever the Hell you wish to call those bastard pieces of shit, though you could call me a "Ron Paul Libertarian", as he holds my closest ideals... Existentially, all they are is another goddamn conflict of interest, to me, as well are emotions, at times... sadly true.

    Frankly, with my regards, love, and hatred, towards law, politics, and the like--it's no more ruthless or backstabbing than the crime Workman was accused of, or the action of accusing an innocent man of a condemnable offense, through the, excuse my Monrovian/Virginian background, but "manifest destiny" of taking advantage of perjerous statements.

    It's purely evil and it doesn't count, in my book.
  17. wave owls not flags

    wave owls not flags is not interested

    Oh...I get what you're saying. :D I thought we were talking about something else. Sorry. :D
  18. Orsino2

    Orsino2 Hip Forums Supporter HipForums Supporter

    Yeah. :D Ahah... no problem.
  19. Orsino2

    Orsino2 Hip Forums Supporter HipForums Supporter

    RICHMOND, Virginia (AP) -- A divided panel from a conservative federal appeals court delivered a harsh rebuke to the Bush administration's anti-terrorism strategy Monday, ruling that U.S. residents cannot be locked up indefinitely as "enemy combatants" without being charged.

    The three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the government should charge Ali al-Marri, a legal U.S. resident and the only suspected enemy combatant on American soil, or release him from military custody.

    The federal Military Commissions Act doesn't strip al-Marri of his constitutional right to challenge his accusers in court, the judges found in Monday's 2-1 decision.

    "Put simply, the Constitution does not allow the President to order the military to seize civilians residing within the United States and then detain them indefinitely without criminal process, and this is so even if he calls them 'enemy combatants,"' the court said.

    Such detention "would have disastrous consequences for the Constitution -- and the country," Judge Diana G. Motz wrote in the majority opinion.

    "This is a landmark victory for the rule of law and a defeat for unchecked executive power," al-Marri's lawyer, Jonathan Hafetz, said in a statement. "It affirms the basic constitutional rights of all individuals -- citizens and immigrants -- in the United States."

    The government intends to ask the full 4th Circuit to hear the case, Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said.

    "The President has made clear that he intends to use all available tools at his disposal to protect Americans from further al Qaeda attack, including the capture and detention of al Qaeda agents who enter our borders," Boyd said in a statement.

    The court said its ruling doesn't mean al-Marri should be set free. Instead, he can be returned to the civilian court system and tried on criminal charges.

    The decision is the latest in a series of court rulings against the Bush administration's anti-terrorism program.

    Last August, a federal judge in Detroit said the government's domestic spying program violated constitutional rights to free speech and privacy, and the constitutional separation of powers. Five months later, the Bush administration announced it would allow judicial review of the spying program run by the National Security Agency.

    A year ago, the Supreme Court threw out Bush's system of military trials for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, saying he had exceeded his authority and was in violation of international treaties. The Republican-led Congress then pushed through legislation authorizing war-crime trials for the detainees and denying them access to civilian courts.

    But last week, military judges barred the Pentagon from prosecuting two of the Guantanamo detainees because the government had failed to identify them as "unlawful" enemy combatants, as required by Congress. The decisions were a blow to efforts to begin prosecuting dozens of detainees the government regards as the nation's most dangerous terrorism suspects.

    Al-Marri has been held in solitary confinement in the Navy brig in Charleston, South Carolina, since June 2003. The Qatar native has been detained since his December 2001 arrest at his home in Peoria, Illinois, where he moved with his wife and five children a day before the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to study for a master's degree at Bradley University.

    Federal investigators found credit card numbers on al-Marri's laptop computer and charged him with credit card fraud. Upon further investigation, the government said, agents found evidence that al-Marri had links to al-Qaeda terrorists and was a national security threat. Authorities shifted al-Marri's case from the criminal system and moved him to indefinite military detention.

    Al-Marri has denied the government's allegations and is seeking to challenge the government's evidence and cross-examine its witnesses in court. Hafetz said prosecutors haven't charged his client because they lack evidence, "or the evidence they've obtained is through torture, unreliable or unacceptable in civilized society."

    Al-Marri is currently the only U.S. resident held as an enemy combatant within the United States.

    Jose Padilla, who is a U.S. citizen, had been held as an enemy combatant in a Navy brig for 3 ½ years before he was hastily added to an existing case in Miami, Florida, in November 2005. He was added to the case just a few days before a U.S. Supreme Court deadline for Bush administration briefs on the question of the president's powers to continue holding him in military prison without charge.

    Yaser Hamdi, an American citizen captured in Afghanistan in 2001, was released to his family in Saudi Arabia in October 2004 after the Justice Department said he no longer posed a threat to the United States. As a condition of his release, he gave up U.S. citizenship.

    If the government's stance was upheld, civil liberties groups said, the Justice Department could use terrorism law to hold anyone indefinitely and strip them of the right to use civilian courts to challenge their detention.

    The Bush administration's attorneys had urged the federal appeals panel to dismiss al-Marri's challenge, arguing that the Military Commissions Act stripped the courts of jurisdiction to hear cases of detainees who are declared enemy combatants. They contended that Congress and the Supreme Court have given the president the authority to fight terrorism and prevent additional attacks on the nation.

    The court, however, said in Monday's opinion that the act doesn't apply to al-Marri, who wasn't captured outside the U.S., detained at Guantanamo Bay or in another country, and who has not received a combatant status review tribunal.

    "The MCA was not intended to, and does not apply to aliens like al-Marri, who have legally entered, and are seized while legally residing in, the United States," the court said.

    The court also said the government failed to back up its argument that the Authorization for Use of Military Force, enacted by Congress immediately after the September 11, 2001, attacks, gives the president broad powers to detain al-Marri as an enemy combatant. The act neither classifies certain civilians as enemy combatants, nor otherwise authorizes the government to detain people indefinitely, the court ruled.

    The case, which is expected to reach the Supreme Court, could help define how much authority the government has to indefinitely detain those accused of terrorism and to strip detainees of their rights to challenge the lawfulness or conditions of their detention.

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