With Mr. Clinton Young’s execution date scheduled for the 26 October, only 11 days now remain before the distinct possibility that an innocent man will be put to death by the State of Texas.
The October 10th cancellation of the hearing set before the 385th Judicial District Court has remained unexplained, yet events over the previous few weeks lead us here at BTR to reason as to why this is the case.
Documents have recently become available to us, signed by Margaret A Farrand, Attorney(s) for the Defendant Clinton Lee Young dated 4th October. Copies of this correspondence were sent to both Assistant Attorney General Ralph Petty and The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The full 24 page document is listed below.
Within these 24 pages one can possibly begin to see why the October 16th hearing was cancelled. Mr. Clinton Young’s counsel raised two key points when addressing the State’s claims as to the Trial Court’s jurisdictions.
The first of these was to address the claim that the Trial Court lacks authority to withdraw Mr. Young’s execution date (under Article 43.141) until The Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) grants the Trial Court permission.
Secondly, the State does claim that the Trial Court does have authority to ‘hear evidence and make full-blown factual findings on the merits of Young’s claims at this stage, to the extent that it can even hear and consider testimony from David Page on the ultimate merits question of Young’s guilt or innocence-all before the CCA has made any authorisation decision whatsoever.’.
Article 43.141 shown below offers insight into what jurisdiction the Trial Court has before the CCA has had time to render it’s decision as to Mr. Young’s pending habeas application.
Mr. Young’s Defence Attorney’s offer that the Trial Court only has the jurisdiction to take 2 limited actions ‘before the CCA has decided whether or not to authorise claims under article 11.071 section 5’.
These actions being:
1.The Trial Court has jurisdiction to transmit Mr. Young’s subsequent application and other documents listed in the statute, to the CCA under Article 11.071, section 5(b).
2. The Trial Court has authority to modify or withdraw Young’s execution date under Artic!e 43.141(d), if it finds that further proceedings on Young’s pending habeas application are necessary.
So what does all of this mean in relation to Mr. Young’s cancelled hearing on the 16th October? I found it easier to comprehend by listing a timeline of events. What is important to consider however is that whilst this timeline is in chronological order to the reader, Mr. Young’s Defence Attorney’s were not afforded this luxury.
September 13th: Trial Court grants ‘use immunity’ and ‘appointing Mr. David Page Counsel’
September 15th: State obtained orders granting ‘use immunity’ and ‘counsel’ for Mr. Page so that he could testify at Mr. Young’s October 16th hearing re ‘withdrawal of execution date’. However Mr. Young’s Counsel were not made aware of this. Mr. Young’s Attorneys were served a separate order that simply set the hearing for the 16th October.
October 3rd: Mr. Young’s Counsel only became aware of Mr. Page receiving ‘use immunity’ and ‘counsel’ via a news article indicating that certain media outlets had received documentation yet the Defence Counsel had not. Upon reading said news article, Mr. Young’s Attorneys contacted Assistant District Attorney Ralph Petty to discuss these findings. Mr Petty confirmed that Mr. Page’s ‘use immunity’ and ‘counsel’ had been sought ex parte. Mr Petty went further, adding that he intended to present Mr. Page’s testimony on October 16th in order to resolve the question as to who shot Mr. Petrey.
October 4th: Mr Young’s Counsel filed:
(Linked in full at top of article)
‘DEFENDANT’S RESPONSE TO THE STATE’S MOTION TO RESCIND THE HEARING ON DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO WITHDRAW OR MODIFY THE EXECUTION DATE SET FOR OCTOBER 26,2017, AND REQUEST FOR TELEPHONIC CONFERENCE ON OR BEFORE OCTOBER 11, 2017; EXHIBITS A, B’
October 10th: Hearing cancelled.
What can be made of these turn of events? Firstly we have the Trial Court granting ‘use immunity’ and ‘appointing Mr. Page counsel’ a clear 2 days before the motions were even filed by the District Attorney. The question being? Did the Trial Court have prior knowledge that the State was going to be requesting ‘use immunity’ and ‘appointed Counsel’ prior to the State’s request of such? The dates on the relevant documents would suggest so.
Of equal importance, why did Mr. Young’s Attorneys not receive the same documentation afforded to the State? Clearly Mr. Young’s Attorneys were never served with either the state’s motions requesting counsel or immunity for Page, or the Court’s orders granting them. More worryingly, Defence Counsel could quite possibly have attended the hearing on the 16th of October completely unaware of either of these factors and been drastically under prepared. How the media can gain access to these motions and defence counsel can’t boggles the mind and speaks volumes as to how transparency does not exist in the State of Texas and likely beyond.
Mr. Young’s Attorneys filed their response the following day after these revelations became known to them. Within this response was a request for ‘Telephonic Conference on or before the 11th October’. One day before this deadline the hearing was duly cancelled. Whilst I admittedly speculate, the timing of these events smack of one party being kept in the dark and to a certain degree, said party being played.
If we add to this the fact that the Trial Court does not have the authority to hear evidence at a hearing without the CCA’s prior authorisation in regards to acknowledging Mr. Young’s writ of habeas corpus. I believe it is fair to speculate that the October 16th hearing was duly cancelled with respect to the aforementioned points.
From my reading of events, the next step to be heard should be regarding the Court of Criminal Appeals. Without their assessment of Mr. Young’s habeas motion the Trial Court has a very limited power over Mr. Young’s future at present. Their power to modify or withdraw Mr. Young’s execution date is clearly stated within Article 43.141. Whether they choose to act upon this before anything is heard from the CCA remains unclear in a case that is already clearly lacking communication between rival parties.
We at BTR are dedicated to keeping you up to date on the events surrounding Mr. Young. We welcome correspondence with our readers. If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact us.
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