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tv   [untitled]    September 15, 2012 6:30am-7:00am EDT

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talk about the political. story of thomas an american who escaped execution still there has been behind bars for almost thirty years this is. the unofficial motto here is that we don't joke around in texas. this
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story happened to you but did you see that in that. we was for we believe that you know some of the things that we see on t.v. for a person we don't expose we execute him and we say you believe the system works like this is the real country. all of these inmates know that death row is an impossible place to escape from. throughout the years thomas miller's hopes of his case being revisited have faded away seasons past he has seen many of his companions depart for the execution room little to hold on to drink his weight just letters and a few visits by close friends or family who have also had to prepare for the execution. won't happen again but he fast me i'll go has your been confronted to an exhibit you know that my friend who have been executive on always wanted to take people they love from the trauma of looking at them dying.
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a few lawyers have tried to attack the texan system. jim marcus is one of them and he made a one of a kind discovery. in his office of the law faculty of austin thomas miller case takes up a lot of space and eventually jim marcus entered this case almost by chance in one thousand nine hundred four back then he was working for an organization of volunteer lawyers defending inmates with no means of their own row one there are five by the time the case was over the file itself filled to fall filing cabinets it was a huge file. because over the overtime we just collected. a lot of evidence mostly documenting the racism and counting. for months jim marcus studied all the files from the one nine hundred eighty six case and then stumbled upon something. that
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dallas county had a manual that instructed prosecutors to discriminate against potential jurors on the basis of race religion gender who were wearing what jim marcus discovered was staggering a discrimination handbook written at the end of the sixties and used by judges to systematically exclude black members of the jury. basically it's based on stereotype it's based on prejudices it says that. you know people who are from any minority group are going to empathize with the accused expresses a general distrust of women. and pretty clearly you know don't take jewish from. not only jews but also fat people those who don't wear ties were considered empty
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conformists and were said to make bad jurors. they're looking for white hunters. to be the jurors. it is clearly stated that white hunters are always good jurors for the state these prosecutors and thomas' case said they were not following us but if you look at their notes it'll say black male no tie n.-t. for no tie his beard no tie no ties wearing jeans. so you can see that with the with the notes show is that they were exactly following this. the initials b m r for a black male he's a black man and has a beard that's one who is left out. if it is for latino female here is a hispanic lady who did not make it through selection. these are a few of many handwritten annotations corresponding to potential jury members
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presenting themselves to the court for the defendant. to recount but to try. was the hatred that was going to. do in the process. in the bigotry the. discrimination that was coming openly going on with the that's the system. that thomas miller's trial ten out of the eleven black jurors were left out we met one of them. belief eales agreed to meet us at an airport lobby. twenty two years after the miller trial she seems almost surprised by our questions to live in a society that is full of discrimination you have to have a thick skin and so therefore that things bother me that way you know i don't take
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it personally it's just institutional have you been asked to be a good juror june oh yes but i go up to the courts own as they call it a panel is. always rejected so you know it's continuous. savage face this is we can sure say i guess i don't know but the thing is that yes i have been called to jury duty many times since then and i've never been selected to be part of a jury either my name is carol and i only testimonies of the ignored jurors overlapped. a movie made ten years ago by some young lawyers confirms this and also reassure sherry that her father was a. victim of a truncated trial so. i would ask him. how did they feel and what were they feeling at that time when they could not. sit
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on the jury because they were black and i was very wrong but feel i could have been a fair jury because. i feel that i could. listen to the evidence. i think even when i die races will still be going for. similar to what happened in the miller case more than ninety percent of black jurors have been left out from trials over the past forty years in dallas since. this is the whole were led by this man judge bill hill. how can one explain that such ways were left on punished. perhaps because the death penalty is a source of contention in the u.s. . we have officials here who are right wing politicians who do not value human life and who use the death penalty to promote
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their political careers promote their or their life and their lifestyle all our politicians are elected course our governor all our state representatives our senators. our judges criminal court judges are district attorneys they're all elected and they like to say they think it's good to be appear to be tough on crime in the toughest on crime they think they can be used to have the death penalty and the support to death. is the death penalty used as a means to profit bill hill's now retired did not wish to comment on this. really focused on two issues both having to do with the fairness of his trial one was the racism the other one was that you know thomas was shot by the police when he was arrested with a with a bullet round of ammunition that explodes on impact so a bullet entered his abdomen and then exploded and shredded you know parts of his
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organs and so forth. and he was in intensive care for a long time and they basically moved him from the hospital the jail and tried him and at the time of his trial he had lost you know fifty pounds he was you know out of it he was on medication he was not competent to be tried. very poor health and incapable of attending a trial this confirms a document that we got ahold of. famous dr ari keogh wrote the following. mr thomas miller was not able to defend himself even if he could be present at the audience. any man presenting such depression pain and wounds wouldn't be able to endure such a stressful event even more so if the trial was a life or death decision. in two thousand and one
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thomas miller had been on death row for already fourteen years when his lawyer jim marcus finished his counter investigation which detailed the discrimination and irregular. artes of the trial. file was sent to the appeals court of texas. and though we had so much evidence there's no way that we can. and then we'll all day score was executed for late february twenty first two thousand and two. you know it was a sense of relief you know it was like all our bureaus exhausted i mean everything left for some of the supreme court and you know live in north africa was like. this is like you know. in the beginning of two thousand and two this was the last
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chance the u.s. supreme court in washington is the highest in the land it is the only one capable of revoking a stiff made decision each year the supreme court receives around one thousand mans from death row inmates and only two or three are accepted for thomas miller's defense a true race against death started so as a bow it was less than a week before the execution and the supreme court. announced that it would hear the case that was a huge relief. convinced that there was discrimination during the trial the supreme court demanded that the death sentence be reexamined but the techs in court did not see eye to eye with this decision and refused to admit the miller had been a victim of racist practice he was to be executed. next in justice supported by a strong conservative public opinion and by very active victim associations refuses
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reexamination of the case. i believe as we practice criminal justice in texas we do a better job of it than any other state in america. one we execute our convicted capital murder we have the highest execution rate in america we're not afraid to do it we do it well we tolerate a lot in texas you can be anything you want in this state but be prepared to pay the consequences of your actions. and i think that the rest of the country should take note of all of that so in that respect i believe texas is the most progressive state in america. how can such confidence be understood when suspicions of judiciary errors increased in texas. and universities and for those who defend human rights the miller case has become a symbol. one of the main leaders of the
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abolitionist movement and teaches history at dallas university. not surprised by the ruthlessness of the texan authorities. and why do you think they want to kill the minorities so badly because the state is a hateful racist state that. wants to kill poor and poor people and people of color this is a hate state this is the region the south is still hateful the american criminal justice system is discriminatory this is a normal part of the american criminal justice system and this state is among the worst of the worst the high profile nature of his case. which has embarrassed correct fully this state on multiple occasions to show the how wrong and terrible the state was in its prosecution of him the state will do all that it
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can it will make the extra effort to prove that the end result would be ok we couldn't kill him but we'll make sure he never gets out to think it were it would die in jail i don't think thomas miller ill is ever going to see the light of day as a free man i hope that he would confronted with texan stubbornness and refusal to recognize any mistake in the miller case the supreme court decided in june two thousand and five to reverse the decision. in its report. denotes the selection of the jurors by race and concluded that there is no doubt that the use of temple can texas allows judges to discriminate. with six votes against three judges of the supreme court ordered a new trial. there are cases during the sixty's seventy's and eighty's this manually dimiter case goes all over the media for ever before had
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to state of texas been asked to revoke the death sentence was. yes it's a myth. and when i went. i actually went out and the tell me that he had something to tell me. so when i went to visit and i said down he always mollett and he tell me that his case had been heard at the supreme court and that they made a decision that they were going to retry his case that they were actually here at the supreme court and at that point it was like my heart had stopped where ok he has an opportunity to actually get off death row. texan justice hadn't said its last word the spread of execution returned.
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by the supreme court decision dallas county general attorney bill hill struck back . he refused to deny miller's guilt and warned that we will request the death penalty of the new trial. police want to rescind the prosecutors want to win for some reason the truth goes out the window nobody gives a damn about the truth they want to win. defense attorneys prosecutors they want to win. in order to win as the year two thousand and seven came to an end justice proposed a deal to thomas miller attorneys refer to it as an increment but miller's friends and family saw it as a trap even the trial would take place again and he might end up sentenced to death or he could plead guilty and the sentence would be changed to life imprisonment in order not to die thomas miller had to accept to stop claiming the innocence which
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he had been defending for twenty years for his friends the choice was clear better to plead guilty then to be sentenced to death again thomas miller still wants to defend his innocence but richard the detective found the words to tell. him from it if you want to represent yourself i told you that i would stay with you. i would help you in i will do that but. be sure that there's only one thing that's going to happen. you're going to go to trial you're going to be found guilty and you're going to be sentenced to death again that's going to happen you're going to die but you're going to try to save his life thomas miller finally decided to give up defending his innocence despite all the unanswered questions despite all the efforts that were made to counter investigate and despite the real doubt about whether or not he is guilty thomas miller signed. on march nineteenth two thousand
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and eight he signed this document in which he pleads guilty and sees his sentence changed to life imprisonment. he left death row forever and was transferred to this detention center where we met him nineteen years after our first encounter. with. we. don't talk to us his team's attorneys did talk to us about two weeks off and on different terms that we had a form of attorney and everything right. people who really had a sincere love and appreciation for us so he would be. was want us to to. to not go back to try ok when did you realize that this thread is. going to. when
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they said we had a license. the judge said to be a life sentence him he should come. hands that he wishes good luck. in the rest of life. it dead port is something to begin to. is just pressure that begins to rise offer us mentally and psychologically almost like physically that we realize that we carry around. in it was almost like a million towards retirement really a million tons of pressure just began to just disappear gradually you know leave indef rome was. but at the same time you know. because. for thomas miller and for all the inmates discriminated over the past
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few decades in texas hopes by the face of one man. craig watkins is the new attorney general of dallas county he follows the much feared bill hill and he is the first black man to take on this job in texas. the trial which he witnessed on september nineteenth two thousand and eight was a landmark one man walking forward between all his lawyers had spent twenty five years in prison for rape which he had always tonight finally all surprised by the attorney general d.n.a. tests proved his innocence and the judge then had to decide if he were to be freed or knox. you.
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see. there. the person said. just i think are. my thoughts or. feelings. thank you for trying to help an audience of people to thank czerny general what kinds personally congratulated johnny lindsay and wished him good luck he also told him how to term and he is to continue to fight against wrongful accusations. that. he is the. nineteenth and then to be free to know only a few months and more than three hundred files have yet to be examined. mr watkins
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case so here it is a great it's a great day for you. know it's not for me a place great day for commerce justice system. and i hope that we can take care of this issue for you think it's easier to be in the fricken american to do this work while in our office it didn't hear. but from where i come from i didn't have a choice i had to do so. many innocents in prison yes well you know that. were how they exclude certain individuals from the jury because of their race. in texas years ago. early ninety's mid ninety's we decided to change how we. actually have people shouldn't juries but i think i want a long way to make sure that our juries are diverse but we need to go even further because prosecutors there's a culture and this is just
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a small moment in time and so at the end of the day i understand and hopefully when i'm done. it will have a becomes necessary a legal system that asks for forgiveness and gives freedom back to those who are wrongfully accused such as the image that holds on to she dreams of freedom for her father. since his sentence has been changed to life imprisonment she can visit him every week she does not shy away from her one goal to get my dad. and see what it's like maybe. there's no stopping point. there's no stopping point at all. to be truthful based upon the law in the state of texas people different we don't
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normally get out of prison you know a year of moments from the rest of life in prison ok. so if we get out you know it would be a blessing and we'd like to be able to show that. a person who come from what you call the nose of modes you know been all deaf you know or actually some of the come from that actually making a positive contribution to humanity so we're hoping that that would cause people stop and look maybe execution is not the answer maybe is something best we could do was ask your people in order to prove to commit people as well you know him to some degree or another we're just hoping that we can be a positive estimate of how life can be a system of example for humanity in general you know.
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that a good idea. that. you take a step and good girls and girls of because for them or for us to occur yes i think like the thomas miller was thirty four when he was sentenced is now sixty one but these people. in theory it is possible to imagine a conditional release for good behavior and after more than twenty years spent in jail. but. in reality is fate is still in the hands of the texans you disagree system. they fit.
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