Death Penalty and Death Row in USA

Fight the Death
Penalty in USA

The Worlds Policeman ignores international treaties

Feature article about the Stan Faulder case,
published in three Danish newspapers, December 1999
By Niels Graverholt - translated to English

On December 10 it is 50 years since the Plenary Committee of the United Nations adopted the Declaration of Human Rights which established a number of rights that apply to citizens in all the member countries.
While this day is being solemnly marked all over the world Texas has chosen to use this day for demonstrating one more time that it does not give a damn in this as well as in other international conventions. And Texas does so by taking the life of 61 year old Joseph Stanley Faulder as punishment for a murder, which he is supposed to have committed in 1975.
The execution is a clear violation of article 3 in the Declaration of Human Rights, which reads: "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person."
And Texas has violated this article several times. At the moment there are about 3.500 prisoners on death row in USA, of them 445 on death row in Texas, where they have the highest "productivity" with 17 executions so far this year - out of 58 in the entire USA.
In the Faulder case they have ignored article 11:
(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.
The treatment of Faulders case has - to put it mildly - not met the criteria which USA itself has agreed on.
It is common knowledge that financial ability counts more in American court rooms than the question of guilt, also in cases that might end up in death penalty. And as can be seen from the following, this is very well illustrated in the case of Faulder.
Faulder was unwise enough to commit burglary of the 75 years old Inez Phillips. She was the widow of a mayor and the matriarch of an influential family, and as it later turned out this became a strongly contributing reason to his death penalty.
The burglary developed to murder, as Faulder, according to his accomplice, a former prostitute named Linda McCann, during the struggle with Phillips hit her with a club and stabbed her to death with a knife.
Immediately after the murder, the son of the victim, Jack Phillips, offered a reward of $50.000 for information concerning the murder, and Linda McCann was quickly arrested and accused Faulder for having planned the burglary and the murder.
Almost two years later Faulder was arrested in Colorado and brought to Texas and interrogated. His repeated requests to talk with a lawyer were ignored by the police, and after 4 days of questioning he signed a statement, which during the following trial was referred to as a confession.
The prosecutor was not able to provide substantial evidence to prove Faulders guilt so the only thing he could build the case on was Faulders written "confession" and the statement to the police from Linda McCann, who by the way did not testify during the trial. But that was sufficient for a swift trial which sentenced Faulder to death for robbery and first degree murder.
However, two years later, in 1979, the sentence was overruled by the Texas Court of Appeal which quite naturally did not find the provided "evidence" sufficient for a death sentence without any corroborating evidence or witness statements.
A new trial had to be carried out, and the prosecutor planned to offer Faulder a deal so that in response for declaring himself guilty he would get life prison instead of death.

But when Jack Phillips, the son of the victim, learned this, he hired two private investigators to provide the basis for a death sentence.
Prior to any recorded contact with the District Attorney's office, Phillip's attorneys offered Linda McCann immunity on the murder charge in exchange for her incriminating testimony - even though McCann was equally eligible for the death penalty under Texas law.
To be sure of her cooperation she was also given $15,000 for what they called "relocation expenses".

However, the former trial had demonstrated that they needed a witness to confirm McCann's testimony, so to be sure they also gave $2.000 to her husband - a member of the local motorcycle gang - for his testimony, which consisted of nothing but his claim that Linda McCann had also told him the story.
For a fee of about $100.000 the two private "prosecutors" prepared the case so effectively that the District Attorney did not have to appoint a prosecutor before a month before the trial - to preserve the semblance of public control over the trial.

Faulder was not in the possession of such big amount of money, so he had to accept a court appointed attorney who was not of much use. He did not call any witnesses, he did nothing to provide mitigating evidence - for instance by digging in Faulders personal background. His only contribution was to try to discredit McCann - who by the way lied to the jury by telling them that she had not received any money from the "prosecutors".

A sentence of death demands that all the jurors are convinced that the defendant represents a continuing danger to society. To insure that, the prosecution called an "expert-witness", namely the psychiatrist Dr. James Grigson. He was known as "Dr. Death". He had in numerous cases, for a considerable payment, assessed the defendants' personality and the risk that he would commit new crime - often without having seen the defendant at all prior to the trial. Under oath he testified that Faulder was a "sociopath of the worst kind" and that he would without doubt kill again.
A couple of years later Grigson was expelled from the Texas and American Association of Psychiatry for unethical behavior because of his outrageous allegations which were without any professional substance.
And with an attorney who later admitted that he was not at all aware of his duty to provide character witnesses, Faulders was convicted and sentenced to death again in 1981.

After his case had been circulating for some months among different appeal boards, Faulder finally had a qualified attorney for his habeas corpus appeal - a special American appeal, the purpose of which is to assess the original trial, the quality of defense and evidence, the respect for the procedural rules etc.
And now it became known that the State of Texas had also violated the Vienna Conventions rule that a foreign suspect shall be informed of his right to gain support from the consulate of his home country - and that the consulate in question shall also be notified. The US authorities are very much concerned about this rule when it is about American citizens abroad, but since 1992 America has executed 7 foreigners after ignoring the convention with the result that the defendant did not receive the legal support that they were entitled to.
Article 10 in the Declaration of Human Rights states that "Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.
If Texas had respected this rule, Faulders habeas appeal would probably have resulted in reversal of the original sentence.
As it turns out, besides a very insufficient defence there had been serious examples of procedural misconduct. As mentioned above, the jury was not informed that the crown witness had been paid for her testimony. Furthermore, among the two "prosecutors" files a note was found which revealed that Linda McCann's husband, who had also testified, was involved in the planning of the crime - a fact which would normally disqualify him as a witness.
Furthermore, the attorney found Canadian files which showed that Faulder as a child had suffered a brain injury which resulted in
periodic 'blackouts' and affected his behaviour in stressful situations.
Finally, a character witness was found, who described Faulder as a peaceful person, who years ago had put his own life at risk by saving the life of a woman he didn't even know.
This information would probably not have provided Faulder an acquittal during the first trial, but it would undoubtedly have spared him from his imminent execution.
And thereby we would not have seen yet another example of USA's contempt for those human rights, which the World Policeman is so concerned to impress on other nations.